summer isn't over till September 22nd or: how I learned to stop worrying and love banana cream pudding
Home Movies Tuesday!
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Hello, welcome back to reality, shana tova, and please remember summer is still with us for a few more weeks.
While I’d never bet that this dessert will out-popular things like this sticky apple cake, for my dessert pleasure center (a made up thing that feels good to say), it’s going to be a giant bowl of pudding every time. In the video I assemble things a little differently than I instruct in the recipe because, well, I am a human woman who makes mistakes and cooks with her instincts, ignoring even her own rules. But what I learned in the process: It doesn’t matter, it’s all going to the same place, who cares, etc. After ending up with a hilarious amount of pudding, I also want to mention you can halve the recipe so you don’t end up with pudding for 20 people, but honestly, pudding for 20 people means you could share/bring to a friend or simply eat pudding 20 times. Your call! And! If you “don’t like bananas” please: remember this is a pudding layered with bananas and the pudding itself is simply vanilla flavored, so leave them out for all I care, replace them with a berry or whatever, that’s FINE. My feelings are NOT HURT.
See you later this week for regularly scheduled Newsletter content!
Banana pudding is my favorite dessert. As a kid I loved ordering it at my family’s restaurant, where Miss Anne would make her perfect version with toasted meringue for the blue plate special at lunch on Thursdays (this still happens every Thursday). I don’t eat it very often anymore, but when I do, it really does something for me. Instant nostalgia, perfect level of sweetness, extremely FUN to eat, filled with Nilla wafers: it’s perfect.
But THIS! This specific banana pudding is my favorite to make. All the traditional elements we know and love (one more time for Nilla wafers, ilysm), with a few things that make it a little more balanced, and a lot better. There’s coconut milk in the pudding to lighten things up, bananas tossed in lime to prevent oxidation and add some tartness, whipped cream cut with Greek yogurt because that’s how it should always be done.
The requisite bright red maraschino cherry on top is “optional” but brings the whole thing together, while reminding me of another staple of my childhood diet (shirley temples forever!). Plus, they are cute. After this particular Home Movies shoot, I took the rest of the banana pudding straight to a friend’s house and we ate it for dinner. Showing up to a hang with a huge bowl of banana pudding as the main course is my new favorite party trick! Highly recommend!
If you’re a real banana pudding traditionalist, don’t be alarmed! All the updates here are true and honest upgrades. You will not miss the vanilla Jell-O pudding, promise. While this recipe requires a little planning ahead and is a bit more work, it is well worth it and your efforts will be rewarded with a large bowl of banana pudding heaven. It’s the best dessert to make ahead, when the idea of doing anything a la minute stresses you out.
The coconut pudding is pleasant and mild, but if you really hate coconut or can’t eat it, you can use regular whole milk in place of coconut milk.
If you don’t have heavy cream for the pudding, use half and half.
The pinch of turmeric in the pudding is purely for color, so you can leave it out if you don’t have it, but it doesn’t affect the flavor and it really does give it that perfect light banana yellow.
You can use any vessel for assembly: a large bowl, a pie plate, a baking dish. Glass is recommended so you can see the layers!
If you can’t find our beloved maraschino cherries, leave it simply topped with whipped cream, or sprinkle on shaved chocolate or toasted coconut flakes.
Click HERE for a printable PDF.
coconut banana cream pudding (as published in Nothing Fancy)
Pudding is like a very soft and comfortable sweater that you like wearing around the house but wouldn’t necessarily wear to, say, a party. In other words, it’s not much to look at, but layer that pudding with limey bananas and whipped tangy yogurt, and top it with a festive maraschino cherry, and all of a sudden it’s like in the movies when the “nerdy girl” takes off her glasses, lets her hair down, and reveals that she was, indeed, “a total babe” this whole time.
The most annoying part of making this dessert is the fact that you’ve got to use a lot of bowls, which I admit is pretty annoying. So first and foremost, thanks for playing along; you may be spending the whole day washing bowls, but you won’t be sorry at the end of it all, because you’ll have a lot of delicious coconut banana cream pudding. Anyway, the great part about this whole thing is that from there, it’s an extremely casual assembly. No need to measure or ration, no tools required other than a spoon, plus you can truly use anything you like to house the pudding—a fun bowl, a trifle dish, a springform pan, a bucket. Whatever you have will work, and it’ll be great! Remember, this is fun, okay?
FOR THE PUDDING
8 large egg yolks
¹⁄₃ cup cornstarch
¾ cup granulated sugar, divided
2 cups heavy cream
2 (14-ounce) cans full-fat coconut milk
Pinch of kosher salt
Pinch of ground turmeric (optional)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract (optional)
¼ cup light brown sugar
4 tablespoons (½ stick) unsalted butter, cut into 1-inch pieces, softened
FOR THE ASSEMBLY
2 cups heavy cream
½ cup confectioners’ sugar
Pinch of kosher salt
1 cup full-fat Greek yogurt
6 firm bananas, peeled and thinly sliced
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
1 (11-ounce) box Nilla wafers or graham crackers
Maraschino cherries (optional)
1. Make the pudding. Whisk the egg yolks, cornstarch, and half of the granulated sugar in a medium bowl until pale and fluffy.
2. Heat the cream, coconut milk, remaining granulated sugar, salt, and the turmeric and vanilla, if using, in a medium pot over medium heat. Stir and heat until just simmering.
3. Slowly and gradually whisk about half of the cream mixture into the egg yolk mixture (this is to prevent the egg yolks from cooking). Then, stir the warmed egg yolk mixture into the pot with the cream and, whisking constantly, cook until it thickens and starts to bubble up and look like something that is so hot it could hurt you if it touched your skin (it can, so be careful!!!), 3 to 5 minutes.
4. Remove from the heat and whisk in the brown sugar and butter, whisking, whisking, whisking until the brown sugar has dissolved and the butter has melted.
5. Transfer the pudding to a baking dish (you can use a bowl if you don’t have one, but basically this pudding should cool as quickly as possible so you want to use something wider than it is deep). Place plastic wrap directly on top of the pudding (to prevent that inevitable weird pudding skin) and place in the refrigerator to cool completely, at least 1 hour (depending on your fridge).
6. Assemble the dessert. Using an electric mixer or a whisk and good ol’ fashioned elbow grease, whip the cream, confectioners’ sugar, and salt in a medium bowl until medium-stiff peaks form. Gently whisk in the yogurt.
7. Toss the bananas and lime juice together in a medium bowl. This will make them taste very good and prevent browning.
8. Take out whatever fun vessel you’ll be using for this assembly and spoon a bit of the coconut pudding on the bottom, followed by a layer of wafers, followed by a layer of pudding, followed by a layer of bananas, followed by a layer of whipped cream mixture. Continue layering in that order, beginning with the wafers, and ending with the whipped cream. Do not worry about getting the layers totally even, that is not the point; just eyeball it to make sure you won’t run out of anything while building the layers (but if you did, not the end of the world).
9. Chill the assembled pudding at least 2 hours, until everything is set and kind of settled into each other. When you’re ready to serve, top with whatever you feel like—say, a maraschino cherry, toasted coconut flakes, or even some shaved chocolate. Serve with a large serving spoon and a few bowls, or just set out multiple spoons and eat directly out of the vessel. We’re all friends here!
DO AHEAD: The filling can be made up to 3 days ahead, wrapped, and refrigerated. The banana pudding can be assembled a day ahead—any more than that and the wafers will become almost “too soft,” if there is such a thing.