Real Southern-style Banana Pudding.

Hey, it’s summer and it’s sizzling here in the Lowcountry of South Carolina. We have family down for a long weekend and we’ll all be heading to our historic town for their annual festivalapolooza… the “Beaufort Water Festival”. Actually it will be the first one I’ve attended, so I’ll be checking out the vibe and get back on the blog with some insider’s information and a recap. It lasts 2 weeks with events and different things going on every day. Should be fun if we don’t all melt in the heat but hey, that’s July in the South so it’s par for the course.

In the meantime, here is a recipe for a Southern favorite, banana pudding. It utilizes my Mama’s southern custard recipe with the addition of homemade whipped cream plus vanilla wafers, bananas and a surprise meringue topping. The meringue is not my original idea. At last year’s Music to your Mouth Festival, I encountered the banana pudding from Crook’s Corner (Chapel Hill, NC). What made it the bees knees was this meringue topping, so hats off to them for actually adding a new twist to this old favorite. I would say the key to banana pudding is the homemade custard and the vanilla wafers. I always use Nabisco “Nilla Wafers” and I would never even bother making it unless I had homemade custard. Does that make me a banana pudding snob? Then guilty as charged.

The ingredients for authentic banana pudding. I cut off the image so you can”t see the confectioner’s sugar and the cream of tartar at the bottom. Sorry about that!

Fold the whipped cream into the chilled custard – makes it just that much richer.

First layer the wafers in the bottom of the serving dish.

Then spoon on the custard and the banana slices. Then repeat the entire process.

Make the meringue with egg whites, cream of tartar and sugar. Whip it all until stiff peaks are formed.

Spread the meringue on a greased piece of parchment on a baking sheet.

After baking a few minutes you get a crusty sweet topping for your ‘nanner pudding.

Close-up of the finished, plated pudding. A cool and rich dessert perfect for summer.

Southern-Style Banana Pudding 

  • custard – 1 full recipe’s worth (see below), chilled
  • 1 cup whipping cream
  • 2 tbl. confectioners sugar
  • 3 egg whites
  • ¼ tsp. cream of tartar
  • 3 tbl. sugar
  • 2-3 large bananas, ripe but not brown
  • vanilla wafers

In a mixing bowl whip the cream until frothy, add the confectioner’s sugar and continue to whip until fluffy. Fold into the custard.

In a large and deep baking dish layer layers vanilla wafers to cover the bottom. Spread ½ the custard and add a layer of sliced bananas on top of that. Repeat the layers. Cover and chill until just before ready to serve.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Whip the eggs whites with the cream of tartar until frothy. Continue to whip the egg whites, adding the sugar 1 tablespoon at a time until the meringue is light, fluffy and hold it’s shape when the beaters are lifted.

Lightly oil or butter a piece of parchment and place on a baking sheet. Spread the meringue on the parchment and bake until lightly browned – about 2 to 3 minutes. Remove from the oven and scoop immediately to top individual portions of the banana pudding.

Note: If you are serving a crowd and expect all the banana pudding will be eaten you can spread the meringue on top of the chilled banana pudding and bake the entire pan at once.

Custard

  • 3 large eggs, well beaten
  • ¾ cup sugar
  • 1 quart of whole milk
  • 2 tbl. all-purpose flour
  • 2 tsp. vanilla extract

In a medium saucepan or double boiler, scald the milk and allow to cool slightly. In a small bowl mix the sugar and flour. Whisk the sugar/flour mixture into the eggs. Make sure this mixture is well incorporated and smooth. Spoon or scoop out about ¼ cup of the egg mixture and quickly whisk this into the scalded milk. Repeat and mix well.

Place the milk back on the heat and whisk the remaining egg/sugar mixture into the milk as it heats. Keep whisking and heating until the mixture come almost to a boil and coats a spoon when it is dipped into the hot custard. Remove from the heat and stir in the vanilla extract. *Allow to cool slightly and place in the refrigerator.

Cover the slightly cooled custard with plastic wrap that touches the top of the custard. This should prevent a “skin” from forming on top of the custard.

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