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Nilla Wafer Banana Pudding

Pudding was an easy after-school snack when I was growing up. It was one of the first things I learned to cook, along with instant Cream of Wheat and cinnamon toast. One of my favorite recipe creations was vanilla pudding, bananas, and crushed Nilla Wafers. I would scoop it in a glass and stir in my toppings. (Later I learned that bananas and Nilla Wafers work well with ice cream in a blender, too.)

A little more time intensive than the Jell-O cook-and-serve packs of my childhood, this Nilla Wafer Banana Pudding recipe satisfies my sentimental side while improving on history with a homemade pudding that’s light, luscious, and pure. The yield is large enough to serve a crowd of kids or dish out at a backyard barbecue.–Rebecca Miller Ffrench

LC The Ne Plus Ultra of Nilla Wafer Banana Puddings Note

Who said Nilla Wafer and Banana Pudding had to be pedestrian? For a gussied-up guise good enough for guests, assemble this comfort food classic in a glass bowl. Or, for the ne plus ultra approach, a trifle bowl. Crystal will do in a pinch. Whatever the form, when you taste it, we think you’ll find that not a lot has changed since you last had this after-school classic ages ago. It’s still gosh darned comforting as heck. (One thing that has changed, thankfully, is the fact that there are now nilla wafers on the market that don’t contain the dreaded high-fructose corn syrup, trans fats, or any other multi-syllabic and mysterious-sounding ingredients that we stumble to pronounce. Many thanks, Back to Nature Foods.)

Nilla Wafer Banana Pudding Recipe

  • Quick Glance
  • 30 M
  • 30 M
  • Serves 10 to 12

Ingredients

  • 3 large egg yolks
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 3 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3 cups whole milk
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup (1/2 pint) heavy cream, cold
  • 1/4 cup confectioners’ sugar
  • 3 to 4 ripe bananas, depending on their size
  • 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 50 vanilla wafers, crushed if desired, plus a few whole wafers for decoration

Directions

  • 1. Place the egg yolks in a heatproof bowl and whisk slightly just to combine.
  • 2. Combine the sugar, cornstarch, and salt in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Carefully add the milk to the pan, whisking constantly until the mixture starts to thicken, about 8 minutes. Do not let the pudding come to a full rolling boil, just a wee gentle boil. Immediately remove the pan from the heat.
  • 3. Slowly pour half the thickened milk into the egg yolks, whisking well. Return the pan to medium heat and gently and slowly add the yolk mixture to the pan. Still stirring constantly, bring the mixture back to a gentle boil, and continue to stir for 1 minute more. Remove from the heat and stir in the butter and 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract. Let cool.
  • 4. Whip the cream with a stand or handheld mixer until light and fluffy. Do not overbeat. Gently fold in the confectioners’ sugar and the remaining 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract.
  • 5. Peel the bananas, cut them into 1/2-inch slices, sprinkle them with the lemon juice, and gently toss to coat.
  • 6. Spoon 2 cups vanilla pudding in the bottom of a 2-quart bowl. Sprinkle with 1/2 cup crushed wafers or, if you prefer them whole, 1/3 of the wafers. Arrange 1 cup of the sliced bananas any way you wish over the wafers. Spoon in the rest of the pudding and coat with 1 cup crushed wafers or almost all of the remaining wafers. Arrange the remaining banana slices on top of the wafers, reserving a few banana slices for garnish. Cover the entire surface with the whipped cream. If desired, decorate with the reserved banana slices and some more whole wafers. Serve immediately or refrigerate until ready to serve.
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