Amy Drew Thompson | orlando sentinel
It wasn’t long after I left him when my phone rang with an incoming text.
“My God, Woman. This banana pudding.
I was driving so I couldn’t answer right away, but the reaction was natural. I smiled and thought, I know, right?
In December, I ruined the end of the year with an incredibly decadent and equally easy recipe for.
“See you in 2023, sensible diet!” I wrote.
We are already well into April. And following last week’s foray into barbecue, an outlet where the phrase “sensible diet” registers as gibberish, I’d say it’s time to stick a fork into the last shred of our New Year’s resolutions. Or in the case of this week: a spoon. Because I’m about to drop what has to be the world’s best banana pudding recipe, for which you don’t need any kind of culinary skill, onto your lap ahead of BBQ season.
Now, banana pudding isn’t rocket science, which makes it an ideal recipe for serving moi. I’m not a serious baker, but if I can achieve aI sure can make a pudding your southern granny would approve of. But not without someone else’s recipe. Which is where The Domestic Rebel Hayley Parker comes in.
I love her.
His recipes are among my most “saved” for future exploration. And when you see top-notch food porn on her Instagram feed, you’ll know why. As for this one: Nilla Wafer’s flaky, breakable crumbles, swollen with dessert moisture, the sexy hint of slippery banana, the creamy pudding, the airy whipped cream…? I swear I heard a funky bass line writing that. So yes. I had to do it.
And it seriously lived up to the name.
At its core, banana pudding is essentially a trifle, with fruit, sliced banana “coins” in this case, layered between something doughy and something creamy. And while modern banana pudding is forever chained to Nilla wafers, which do something magical when moistened a little among these other ingredients, early incarnations of this dessert included pound cake, as did many trifles.
To be honest, Nilla’s wafer metamorphosis into something cake-like was even better one more day after I served it to the family, which is when I handed the rest out to some coworkers at the office. Because I’m sweet that way. And to get the damn thing out of my fridge before I ate it all.
One of my coworkers felt similarly. When Jay Reddick, the Sentinel’s viewpoint editor and combat sports reporter (he covers pro wrestling) asked her if she should leave something in the fridge for a colleague she’d had some before, she refused.
“Did you know?” She told him. “It is too good! Heavenly! Take it home tonight! Please!!”
Yes, four Os. I did not invent that.
Reddick, a North Carolina native who knows what he calls “nana puddin,” was equally impressed. His was the aforementioned text that interrupted my journey home.
“I’m a vanilla wafer guy,” he explained. “And the ratio here was perfect. It did not distract from the creamy consistency, but there were plenty of it. Really, the proportions throughout were just right. Not too creamy, just sweet enough.”
Enough to make me wish I could take the credit. But I can not. I just followed the instructions.
My Things To Do teammate, Central Florida explorer Patrick Connolly, was, for once, happy to be here in the city instead of riding a tank, riding an ATV or. Also, as a fan of Nilla Wafer, he reached out to her mother to clarify the facts of her childhood nostalgia.
“I don’t have a lot of experience with banana pudding,” he began (Connolly hails from Pittsburgh, PA), but I love Nilla’s wafers…and was delighted to see them. [The pudding] it had just the right combination of fluffy cream and pudding. It’s the kind of food you can eat at lunchtime or at a summer barbecue without feeling too heavy or sleepy.”
Moments later, he had even more information based on Connolly.
“According to my sweet mother,” he wrote, “‘We had [Nilla wafers] as a snack, but I also made banana pudding with them… all layered like a cake, yummy!
Nothing beats text messages from mom. Although this pudding, seriously, you can’t mess it up! rivals even that. Do it.
THE BEST BANANA PUDDING IN THE WORLD
2 1/2 cups heavy whipping cream
3/4 cup icing sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
8 ounces (1 package) cream cheese, softened
14 ounces (1 small can) sweetened condensed milk
5 ounces (1 large box) instant banana pudding mix (dry powder only)
1 cup whole or 2% milk
11 ounces (1 box) Nilla wafers
About 8 medium bananas, sliced. Make sure they are just barely ripe: too ripe/soft and they will brown faster.
1. Lightly grease a 9 x 13-inch baking dish with cooking spray. Set aside.
2. In the bowl of a stand mixer, add the heavy whipping cream, sugar, and vanilla extract and, using the mixer attachment, beat until stiff peaks form, about 5 to 7 minutes. Remove the whipped cream to a separate bowl and reserve.
3. In the empty mixer bowl, add the cream cheese and, using the same mixer attachment, beat until fluffy, about 30 seconds. Add the sweetened condensed milk and beat until smooth and there are no clumps of cream cheese, stopping to scrape down the bottom and sides of the bowl as needed. Add the dry pudding mix and mix well, then slowly pour in the milk. Mix until fully combined.
4. Add 2/3 of the whipped cream to the pudding mix and mix gently until fully combined and no streaks of whipped cream remain. Set aside.
5. In your prepared pan, place an even layer of Nilla wafers. Top with an even layer of sliced banana coins. Top this with half of the pudding mix and spread evenly. Repeat with another layer of Nilla wafers, followed by another layer of sliced banana coins and the remaining pudding layer, spreading it out evenly. Top with the remaining whipped cream. Cover and refrigerate at least 8 hours or overnight.
6. Just before serving, crush the remaining Nilla wafers and sprinkle on top. Store leftovers covered in the fridge, up to 2 days.
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