A Sweet Thanksgiving Pt.2

The second of our Sweet Thanksgiving desserts, Banana Cream Pudding, holds a very special place in my heart for two reasons. Going way back to my childhood, a stripped down version of Banana Cream Pudding, sliced banana smothered in packet custard. A virtually instant and gratifying finish to a homely meal. I feel particularly fond of Banana Custard because it is my grandfather’s favourite pudding; in fact anything with bananas is his favourite. My grandad was the one who first showed me how to slice a banana before peeling it, and afterwards he would have to feign mock surprise as I demonstrated my new trick to him.
The second reason I am so fond of Banana Cream Pudding is that the true ingredients of the dish, Vanilla Pudding and Nila Wafers remind me of my first road trip to the US with my then-to-be husband, Paul. We put on pounds travelling around US, eating Nilla Wafers from the box and scooping out various flavours of Pudding with our our already Cheetoe-orange strained fingers. I later returned to the UK with boxes of powdered pudding in all sorts of lurid flavours and broken Nilla Wafers that hadn’t entirely survived the manhandling of the luggage handlers.
I hadn’t eaten banana custard OR Nilla wafers OR pudding for some time and Paul had requested that his Mom send us a box of the wafers over in a large care box containing several now-well thumbed issues of Gourmet Magazine. Suffice to say, the request for Banana Cream Pudding was soon demanded but I was given one proviso: I cannot use custard, I have to find a recipe for Vanilla Pudding. Just between me and the UK readers, custard is a fairly good representation of Pudding, particularly if you make it really quite thick, or use a cartoned brand (they keep forever – literally – in the pantry).
However, in this instance, I conceded and found a recipe on the Nabisco (home of the Nilla Wafer) website. Pudding is easy to make, flour, sugar, milk, egg yolks whisked up in a double boiler until the lumpy gloop turns smooth and thickens. It is then liberally, generously blanketed over sliced bananas and Nilla Wafers (there is no UK substitute for these – and, even though I am a biscuit connoisseur, I cannot think of a similar alternative. Some of those fancy Breton-style Butter rich shortcake biscuits would be just as yummy though), covered with Meringue and flashed briefly in a hot oven to brown. I thought that a sweet meringue topping would be too much sugar so replaced this with another childhood favourite, Dream Topping.
Dream Topping is our nearest equivalent to America’s Cool Whip, an amazing demonstration of what a evil genius with a craving for whipped cream but no refrigerator and open access to a cupboard full of chemicals, can produce. Both Dream Topping (a powder that you whisk up with milk) and Cool Whip are airy creams, with no hint of dairy flavour and a slightly sweet demeanour. I find both of them completely alluring and perfect for this already calorie laden pudding.
You can, of course, use regular whipped cream or go for the meringue option.
For a real retro treat, here’s how to whip up Banana Cream Pudding:
serves at least 6-8
5 Bananas, peeled and sliced, sprinkled with a little 7-up or lemon juice to stop them browning
1/2 Cup Sugar
1/3 Cup Plain Flour
Pinch Salt
3 Egg Yolks (reserve the whites for meringue topping, if making)
2 Cups Milk
½ Teaspoon Vanilla Extract
Box Nilla Wafers (or similar buttery-style biscuit)
Whipped Cream or a Sachet of Dream Topping or Cool Whip (if not making the meringue)
In the top half of a double boiler, whisk together the flour, sugar and pinch of salt. Then whisk in the milk and egg yolks. Place over the bottom half of the double boiler (which will need to be quarter filled with water and brought to a brisk simmer).
Whisk mixture for 10-12 minutes, or until thickens.
Pour a little of the mixture into a heatproof serving dish, layer with the Nilla Wafers or biscuits, then a layer of sliced bananas.
Repeat this layering twice more, ending with the Pudding.
If you are going for the cream topping, slather all over the top and decorate with some more Nilla Wafers and slices of banana.
If you want to make the meringue topping, whisk the egg whites until stiff, pour in a quarter of a cup of sugar and whisk until stiff and glossy. Spoon over the pudding, taking care to cover over all the edges and bake in a pre-heated oven (175c) until browned, about 15-20 minutes.
Spoon into large bowls and straight into mouth.


Lydia (The Perfect Pantry) said...

I'm giggling! I wouldn't say this is gourmet American cooking, but it definitely represents the kind of cooking my mom used to do, and as I remember, it always tasted great.

ChichaJo said...

This reminds me of something similar they make over here with mangoes, cream+condensed milk, and graham crackers :) Very retro, a childhood favorite, and always a hit!

I'm with your grandfather...anything with bananas in a winner :)

Tony said...

Looks yummy. Ah, the memories of banana custard :-)

Susan said...

LOL! As you know from my last post, I went the home-made pudding/custard (whatever) route, too. I especially like your recipe in that it has no cornflour thickener -- and that meringue topping! Yes, a little more sugar, but a nice protein boost of egg whites.

Kelly-Jane said...

I would so like to try that pudding! I'm really pleased that you have posted a picture of the wafers as well, since I wasn't really that sure what they were!

T.W. Barritt at Culinary Types said...

I'm afraid I must contradict my friend Lydia above - this is certainly "Suburban Gourmet" at its finest! This is what we call "soul food" on Long Island - I want to make it this weekend!!

Anonymous said...

Happy halloween, very good food!!

Monkey Wrangler said...

Looks good!

Nice post!

Yummy y'all!

Hey, just wanted to stop by and give you my two required words. Especially after I went back and read your first post since being back, and decided I just had to now.

Really, I'm flattered you reached out to say hi after the silence and alert the wrangler that there's life going on over on the other side of the pond again.

And hey Paul: could the health scare have anything to do with the Ballyhoo judging? That was a lot of burgers, and although as your fans and admiring blogheads we appreciate the dedication, we wouldn't want to be included as accomplices in the downfall of your health......

Callipygia said...

I absolutely love Nilla wafers, Cool whip and various variations of this banana pudding. I once remember standing next to this buffet table so I could be close to the pudding!

Saffron said...

I could die right now!
For me it's the same: I HEART all the sweets and cakes and creams with banana!
Simply superb!

Cynthia said...

This is such a treat! When we were kids, my mom could always calm us down by giving us sliced banana in milk that was slightly sweetened and as I read your post that is what came to mind :)