If you’ve been reading this blog for long you know that I don’t do many desserts. This isn’t because I have anything against sweet things (in fact it’s quite the opposite). The fact of the matter is that desserts tend to take a lot longer to make, and when a sweet craving hits, I’m often content just heading to the nearest bakery to sate my sweet-tooth.
Banana pudding is one dessert that I’ll happily make at home. It uses ingredients I almost always have on hand, and takes less than half an hour to make. The hardest part is waiting until the creamy vanilla goodness has seeped into the cake, turning the whole thing into a sweet, luscious mess.
For the vanilla pudding, I started with my chocolate pudding recipe. While delicious and relatively simple to make, I couldn’t help but wonder if I could cut out a few steps to make it even simpler. Like most pudding recipes, I usually cream the yolks, sugar and cornstarch in a mixer, adding in hot milk, then cooking the mixture again. I decided to try and blend all the ingredients together, then cook the pudding in one step.
As it turns out, the mixing and two step cooking is unnecessary; my custard turned out beautifully! You’ll want to heat it gently over a low heat and stir it constantly though, to prevent lumps from forming.
After my custard was done, I decided to lighten up the custard by incorporating whipped cream. The result was a smooth, mousse-like custard that melts as it hits your tongue. Together with the seeds from a whole vanilla bean, it makes for a heavenly pudding that would be delicious all on its own.
Of course banana pudding wouldn’t be banana pudding without bananas, so I sliced up a few bananas and sandwiched in a layer of Castella (Japanese pound cake). Sara Lee, ladyfingers, or vanilla wafers will all work just fine though, it all depends on what’s in your pantry/freezer.
makes 6 servings
1 vanilla bean
1 1/2 cups whole milk
3 extra large egg yolks
1/4 cup sugar
3 tablespoons potato starch (halve if using cornstarch)
1/3 cup heavy cream, whipped until stiff
2 ripe bananas
frozen pound cake, cut into 1/4″ slices
Split the vanilla bean lengthwise and use the back of your knife or a spoon to scrape the seeds out of the pod (save the pod to make vanilla sugar). Add the vanilla seeds, milk, eggs yolks, sugar, and corn starch to a blender, and blend until smooth.
Pass the mixture through a fine mesh tea strainer and into a saucepan. Heat the saucepan over medium-low heat and use a silicone spatula to continuously scrape the bottom and sides of the pot to keep the pudding from scorching.
Continue heating and stirring until the mixture thickens, but do not allow it to boil. Remove the pot from the heat and allow the mixture to cool to room temperature. You can speed this up, but submerging the bottom of the pot in a bowl of ice water while stirring. When the pudding has cooled, fold in the whipped cream.
Peel and slice the bananas into thin rounds and line the bottoms of 6 small glasses or ramekins with bananas. Spoon a layer of vanilla pudding on top, then add a layer of pound cake. If you still have room, add some more bananas, then top with a layer of pudding. Cover and refrigerate overnight.