Thursday, July 10, 2014

Homemade Banana Pudding-- In A Jar

The best laid plans... yeah. About that. Once a year, my heart rate quickens at the thought of having an entire month off work. Don't hate me. It's without pay, and well earned at the end of a school year. For one whole month, I can turn off my alarm clock. I can catch up on the pile of ironing I hate need to do.  I can swim in our subdivision lap pool. 

Oh! I can blog more than once a week.  Yes, I was going to accomplish all these things.  As the end-of-the-school year countdown began, I had fantasies of making the recipes I've pinned-- greeting my husband with full make-up, a smile and a romantically set table. Didn't happen.  None of it.

What was I thinking when I signed up for a summer class at our community college?!  I've spent almost every day, driving to class and working on my homework.  Next year, I have to rethink this strategy.

 Buy "almost ripe" bananas for best results.

We did manage to make time to spend with some dear friends, who invited us for dinner, at their home. I offered to bring dessert, which was graciously accepted.  I refer to Mr. "D" as our "Southern Gentleman Friend", since he's from Atlanta, Georgia.

Whenever I think of him, I think of Southern recipes. No, I wasn't born in the South. I did, however, spend a few days in Atlanta and Savannah a lifetime ago. To this day, I remember how delicious the food was.  I've never had Banana Pudding (except for that boxed stuff), and I thought this would be a dessert he'd like.  I searched around for recipes and I knew I wanted to make the pudding, from scratch.

Once again, I found the recipe I wanted on Cook's Illustrated's sister website, "Cook's Country" (I subscribe to them). I liked the idea of roasting the bananas, to intensify their flavor.  So, I got to work that morning.

The first thing I decided was to "halve" the recipe, since it was only the four of us.  I thought it was a brilliant idea to make these in my beloved Ball Canning jars.   I figured they'd transport easily, and would make a perfect serving size. NOTE TO SELF: I'm not the only person who had this idea... a google search came up with oodles of pudding in a jar...but many, with that fake cream stuff and boxed pudding.

While the bananas were roasting, I made the pudding. Four egg yolks, sugar and cornstarch are whisked together.

On the stove, I heated half and half and salt until simmering-- then whisked in a half-cup to the eggs, to temper them.  Once I incorporated the egg mixture, the pudding thickened up super fast.

Off heat, I added pure vanilla and unsalted butter to the pudding.  The roasted bananas had cooled enough to peel.

In a food processor, I added the pudding, peeled and roasted banana and some lemon juice and pureed it until smooth.  I took a taste, and was very happy with the flavor of the pudding. It had just the right balance of "real" banana.  To avoid "pudding skin" I covered the pudding with plastic wrap and let it chill until slightly cooled-- about 45 minutes.

The final step was to slice fresh bananas and gently coat it with more lemon juice.  Ambitious that I can be, I had wanted to make homemade vanilla wafers.  Please refer to my opening paragraph... time was running out. So was my energy. So, I used boxed vanilla wafers.  I layered a few wafers on the bottom of each jar, then pudding...

...then banana slices and in between additional layers, I added some crushed vanilla wafers, for texture. I ended up with six wide mouth jars of banana pudding, which went into the fridge to chill for a couple of hours. In the meantime, I pondered if I should make meringue or use whipped cream.  Since I was going to transport the dessert, I nixed the idea of meringue. Next time, for sure!

Oh. I had a little bit more pudding left, so I filled a 16 ounce jar with pudding, and plenty of wafers..and, whipped cream.  This would become the "extra" left in our own fridge.

Before packing up the desserts, in a cooler, I wanted to photograph one of the dessert jars-- and to taste it!

 My son was still home, getting ready for work. I know he's always willing to be my taste tester.

TASTING NOTES: I can see why banana pudding is so beloved, in the South.  The texture of the pudding was creamy and velvety. The flavor had just the right balance of banana, without that artificial flavor. Yes! I liked the way the wafers had softened. My first thought that this was reminiscent of banana cream pie.  Like a good mom, I brought the remaining jar to my son, who tasted it.  He's brutally honest, and said it was "outstanding".  He asked if there was more.  Yes, one more jar. The rest left with us to our hosts.  As for our Southern Gentlman-- I heard him reminding his wife to get the recipe. He says it was "like home".  That's the best compliment I could ask for.

This is the photo from Cook's Country. I think this is also a stunning presentation, but is a lot of pudding! I'd make this for a dinner party of 8, more people!

Photo credit: Cook's Country

A printable recipe card is at the end of this post. You'll want to double the ingredients, if you'd like to make Cook's Country's presentation.

The Grand Finale, of my summer break is that tomorrow, my husband and I are flying off to British Columbia.  We'll be splitting on Vancouver Island, and in Vancouver.  It's been decades since I've visited Vancouver and Victoria will be our first.  Now-- let the real vacation begin! (Then I return to work two days later.)

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Bill said...

Now you're singing my song, Debby! You know this southern boy loves some banana pudding. I love the roasted bananas in the pudding part. Great recipe!!

The Short (dis)Order Cook said...

I love the idea of adding roasted bananas to the pudding. I think that's a great idea for banana cream pie too.

Ever see the Darius Cooks recipe? He uses Chessmen rather than Nilla Wafers, which I always thought was an interesting twist. There are a bunch of different cookie types that might be cool with banana pudding - but then again, why mess too much with an established good thing?

Joanne said...

I never end up doing half the things i set out to every weekend or day off, so girl. I feel you.

But you made homemade banana pudding! And that so counts for something.

Anonymous said...

Hi Deb,
That looks like fun, but... For the first time in over a year I don't want to instantly create one of your fine dishes. I just don't like sweets. (I'd rather stuff in more pasta/potatoes/meat/fish etc.)
On the bright side, I've shared it with a friend and now I'm searching through your archive for some lamb ideas. What a wonderful site, thanks, - Craig

Chatoor said...

I always luv homemade banana pudding ;)

Lori said...

There nothing like banana pudding, you compliments just about everything. Eat it my itself, spread on bread, or make a pie.