Saturday, January 21, 2012

Southern Comfort: Banana Pudding (experimental style)

Oh 'Nanner Puddin', how do I love thee!

The problem is most of the time a banana pudding recipe is for a big 9x13 pan.  Who eats that much banana pudding on the regular?  It won't keep that long in the fridge, because the bananas start to turn black really quick.  I'm sorry, that's just nasty looking, and it doesn't taste right, either.

So what do you do?

Backtrack a few.  You know when you buy bananas, there's often that one lonely nanner that just doesn't get eaten?  It sits on the counter, getting darker, mushier, and more forlorn looking every day until eventually you just toss the thing, because it's not fit to eat anymore?  Maybe you don't, but I do.  Every time I buy bananas.  I think that what happens is B leaves it for me, and I leave it for him, so in the end it doesn't get eaten by anyone.   I'm something of a saver (in case you haven't noticed), and I hate to see anything wasted, so I started putting those lonely bananas in the freezer figuring I'd decide on something to do with them later.

I went to Wal-mart the other day, and I was significantly under my allotted food budget, and they had one of those trap displays.  You know the ones where they have all the name brand expensive ingredients for a dish on one display?  Well, this one was banana pudding.  They had the pricey evaporated milks, vanilla wafers, bananas and stuff all in one spot in the produce section.

Light bulb!

So I grabbed a box of Nilla wafers (yes, I know the store brand ones aren't that bad, but they aren't as good as Nilla, and I *was* significantly under budget that day, even after a few impulse buys.)  

Today, I figured was as good a day as any for pudding making, so I got two bananas out of the freezer to thaw.  

Now, if you've made southern style banana pudding before, you know that really it's just vanilla pudding with bananas and vanilla wafers layered through it.  Easy peasy.  

I was getting all my stuff together to get to cooking, and I went over to slice the bananas before starting the pudding so everything would be in order and ready to go.   Have you ever seen a frozen banana thawed out?  It's far from slice-able.  I picked up the blackened, sad, limp, rather gross feeling banana-like thing and began to feel an inkling of despair.  I had to snip the end off the peel with my kitchen scissors and squeeze the banana goo out like toothpaste.  It sounds nasty, it really wasn't *that* nasty, but it damn sure wasn't what I was expecting.  

I know, I know!  Plants get a bit squishy when they're frozen and thawed, but this went beyond "a bit".  This was nearly pudding in it's own right.  

Light bulb!

I dumped about 1/3 of the box of Nilla wafers into the bowl with the bananas, and mushed it all up into a sort of nilla-nanner paste.  I layered some whole wafers on the bottom of my pan, then the paste, then topped it with pudding, then more wafers.  

It actually tastes just fine, and everything worked out to fit into a baking dish that I estimate to be about 5x7 or thereabouts.

In case you've skipped all that:

The Recipe!

2 bananas (frozen or fresh but very ripe)
1/3 box vanilla wafers (more or less, depending on how many you snack on while you make this.)

Vanilla Pudding (about four servings)
2 1/2 c milk 
pinch salt
1/2 c sugar (subject to tinkering, you may like more or less)
3 Tbsp cornstarch
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
1 Tbsp butter

Get your stuff ready before hand, because pudding needs lots of attention while it's cooking.  

If you are using frozen bananas, mush them up with most of the nilla wafers to a thick paste. 
If you're using fresh bananas, just slice them.  

Use a sauce pan that is about twice as big as you would usually use for 3 cups of liquid.  You need room to whisk it well, and a smaller saucepan will leave you sloshing stuff all over your stove.  

Put all the pudding ingredients, except the butter and vanilla, into the saucepan.  Whisk it really well, then turn the heat on medium to medium high.  Whisk it constantly, but not like you're trying to whip egg whites.  You'll wear yourself out.  You just want to keep the eggs broken up so they don't make your pudding grainy.  Keep this up for about 10-15 minutes or so, until it starts to get thick and pudding-like.  Remove it from the heat, add the butter and vanilla, and whisk some more.  It will get more solid as it cools off, so don't despair if your pudding seems a touch thinner than you think it should.  

Now, layer all your goodies in the baking dish.  If you're using frozen bananas/wafers in a paste, I layered vanilla wafers on the bottom, then the banana paste, then the pudding.  I only really had room for one layer of each.  

This is what the nanner-nilla paste looked like after mushing.  Tastes WAY better than it looks!  Promise!

If you're using fresh bananas, you might have room for more layers, but that depends on how thin you sliced them.  

The top layer is pudding, then you can top it off with a layer of wafers if you want.  It's not an exact science, just get everything in there as best you can.  Make sure to leave some in the pot for you to sample, get a bunch on your fingers to lick off, etc. and so on.  You guys know the drill!

If you were hoping for a meringue topping, I'm sorry to disappoint.  I can't stand it, even though it's pretty and makes a lovely presentation.   

1 comment:

  1. I just made it, and granted it's small, but it's nearly gone. I'd say it was a success. ;-)


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