Friday, May 17, 2013

banana pudding

You know what they say.. When life gives you ripe bananas, make banana pudding. Okay, maybe that's just a personal motto. It's a good one though, right? Duh, don't answer that.

On my first trip to NYC, my sister brought me to Magnolia Bakery and made me try the banana pudding. OH MY GOODNESS. It was like heaven in a cup. Every bite seemed like it was even better than the one before it. It's so filling and deliciously decadent that a small cup is all I need. I never knew a small cup could seem so large. And even then, as stuffed as I am, I just can't seem to stop eating it if it's in front of me. It is seriously that good. I'm pretty sure I got drunk off that pudding once. Like food drunk that makes you deliriously happy. Good times.

The recipe for Magnolia Bakery's Banana Pudding is all over the web (like here). The first time I made banana pudding at home, I obviously used their recipe so I could relive that life-changing banana pudding experience. Over time, I've unintentionally created my own banana pudding recipe. When I'm missing an ingredient, I tend to find a way to do without it while still fulfilling my craving. That's what probably happened here. Sweetened condensed milk isn't exactly on my weekly grocery list, if you know what I mean. But honestly, I'm not going to tell you not to make it the Magnolia way. There's no denying that pudding is yum.

My banana pudding is a little lighter and more airy compared to Magnolia's recipe, but the flavor is still there. I can't detect too much of a difference-- but I'm also not a picky pudding eater. I just need the Nilla wafers. Hell yes. Those are magical in pudding.

With my recipe, you also don't really have to do much measuring if you buy the ingredients in the indicated volumes. I like to be lazy and not bring out a bazillion things I'll have clean up afterwards.

Once you see how easy banana pudding is to whip up, your ripe (perhaps, on the cusp of over-ripened) bananas will never see the trash. No cooking, no baking. 5 ingredients that will blow your mind and, hopefully, make you smile.

Banana Pudding
Yields 1 large bowl of pudding, serves however many people you think that feeds. 

4 ripe bananas, sliced (Use at least good, medium-sized bananas. I got about 3 cups sliced.)
3.4oz box vanilla instant pudding mix
2 cups (1 pint) cold fat free milk
2 cups (1 pint) whipping cream (I used the regular whipping cream but you can use heavy whipping cream also)
11-12oz box vanilla wafers

1. Reserve 1 cup of the vanilla wafers. This will be used to top the whole shabang.
2. As indicted by the box of instant pudding, whisk milk and instant pudding mix together in a medium bowl until it is soft set-- about 5 minutes. Then refrigerate while you prepare all your other ingredients. The longer you allow the pudding to set, the better.
3. Slice bananas if you haven't done already. Also, in the bowl of a stand mixer with a whisk attachment or a large bowl with a hand mixer, whip together the whipping cream until stiff peaks. Note: Start your hand/stand mixer on low and then increase to medium speed. Do not shoot straight to medium or there will be problems.. messy problems.
4. When your pudding looks more like a medium set, you are ready to use it. At least 5-10 minutes in the refrigerator. 
5. With a spatula, fold in about 1/3 of the whipped cream into the pudding mixture until there are no pudding streaks. Then add the vanilla pudding mixture directly into the bowl of the remaining 2/3 whipped cream. Continue folding the mixture until, again, no streaks and it all looks cohesive.
6. In a large bowl, layer the vanilla wafers, banana, and pudding mixture. I like to go in that order, and I usually get at least 3-4 layers. The number of layers will depend on what size bowl or dish you use. Just make sure you end with a layer of pudding on top.
7. With your hands, crush the reserved 1 cup of vanilla wafers over the very top of the layered pudding to finish it off. 
8. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 5 hours. Overnight is even better.
9. After the pudding has been sufficiently refrigerated, you are ready to serve it up. Or grab and spoon and dive right in. Do not let pudding sit out. Continue to refrigerate leftovers.

The pudding mixture might seem somewhat too loose when layering. Don't worry about that. If you whipped your cream into stiff peaks and gently folded in the pudding (completely but not overdone), you are good. Just be nice to the pudding and it will be nice to you.. in about 5 hours. 

And, after refrigerating overnight..

As you can see, the pudding continues to set as it refrigerates for all those hours. It fluffs up and all that whipped cream creates a really light texture. My favorite part is getting a bite of a vanilla wafer. The wafers soften into this cake-like deliciousness that is so so amazing. Nom.

I made this last night, had it for breakfast this morning, and probably could have devoured at least half the bowl in one sitting. I resisted. Self-control is a bitch.

If you don't want to make banana pudding right now, there is something wrong with you and we probably shouldn't be friends. Just kidding.. kind of.

Goodnight, lovelies.

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