I've been craving banana pudding for days now; oddly enough, I don't think I've ever eaten the classic 'Nilla wafer banana pudding before. Yet I craved it. I'd purchased a box of the aforementioned wafers on sale recently and have been amazed by how good they are-not fancy, not complicated, but full of vanilla flavor and delicious. I think that lead me into a journey that ended last night with this recipe, a hit with everyone in the family, even Mary, who dislikes bananas. The pudding takes over a rich banana flavor after being poured over the fruit while still warm. The cookies soften, and the whole dessert is reminiscent of a trifle (in fact, I found myself wondering whether it would be possible to brush the wafers with rum *while layering). It is rich and indulgent and comforting.
The recipe is modified from one in Cooking Light Magazine. I normally will only cook the "light" version of a recipe if it tastes as good as the regular version, and this one qualifies. Although the original recipe called for meringue, I substituted whipped cream instead, which I before, and which I knew would keep better for the inevitable leftovers. If you choose to use meringue, I'll throw the directions in at the end. It does save you from wasting the two egg whites you'll have left from the yolk, and it is healthier than the whipping cream.
*1/3 cup all-purpose flour
*1/8 tsp salt
*2 1/2 cups 1% low-fat milk
*1 (14-ounce) can fat-free sweetened condensed milk
*2 large egg yolks (save the whites if you want to do meringue)
*2 teaspoons vanilla extract
*3-4 ripe bananas, sliced (divided); about 3 cups
*45 vanilla wafers(divided)-low fat is fine
If topping with whipped cream:
*1/4 c whipping cream
*1/4 tsp vanilla
*1 TBS powdered sugar
If topping with meringue:
*4 large egg whites (at room temperature)
*1/4 cup sugar
*If using meringue, preheat oven to 325.
*Stir flour and salt in medium saucepan. Gradually add milk and condensed milk and yolks, whisking constantly to keep from getting lumpy.
*Heat over medium heat, stirring constantly (or else the milk will burn), until very thick-this will take anywhere form 8-15 minutes. Make your kid take turns whisking while you find the right dish, slice bananas, etc.
*When nice and thick (should coat the back of a spoon and leave a track when you draw your finger through the coating on said spoon), remove from heat and stir in vanilla extract.
*Arrange a cup of the banana slices on the bottom of a 2 Qt casserole dish. Ladle a third of pudding on top. Arrange 15 vanilla wafers on top. Repeat twice more. On final layer, poke wafers around the sides of the dish and down into the pudding.
*Whip cream, vanilla and powdered sugar together until firm and spread over top.
*Beat egg whites at high speed until foamy; gradually add sugar, one tablespoon at a time, beating until stiff peaks form. Spread meringue over top of pudding, sealing to edges. Bake for 25 minutes or until golden.
In either case, let sit 30 minutes before eating or it will be really soupy.