A Taste of Home: Banana Pudding

J and I recently returned to my hometown of Nashville for a little vacation. I was missing my home, my friends, my family so a visit was well overdue. The day we flew out was pretty typical: up at the crack of dawn to catch an 8:30 flight…. running through the airport in Dallas to reach our connecting flight…flight attendant told us we HAD to board the plane right away, that we didn’t have time to grab lunch at the place literally 5 steps away from the gate… sat on the plane for over an hour waiting for a technical evaluation (hungry and grumpy at this point)…arrive in Nashville 8 hours later and go straight to buy a bbq sandwich which we ate like ravished lions. We probably got funny looks, but folks we were hungry!

While we were drooling waiting for our sandwich J looked over at the desert section. “What is that?”

“That? Seriously?” I asked. How could he not know? “That is banana pudding.”

“What is in it?” he asked, his eyes wide and hungry.

“Oh you know, bananas, pudding, whipped cream, nilla wafers. Wait… you’ve never had banana pudding?”

He’s never had banana pudding, folks! How is that possible? It seemed like a staple dessert item gracing church potlucks and meat n’ 3s all over the world! Oh… right… meat and three is a southern thing. Time to introduce my man to a taste of the South.

The other night while J was out surfing I decided to surprise him and whip up a batch of banana pudding. It’s not something I’d usually make as it’s full of ingredients I wouldn’t usually eat (hello processed foods and high fructose corn syrup!). I’m guessing Whole Foods has its own version of Nilla Wafers and pudding packets; I just didn’t have time to find out.

So here we have it, classic Southern banana pudding. Let me tell you, the man lit up like a Christmas tree and did a little jig when we saw the pan in the fridge. He was equally excited after the first bite. This recipe isn’t fancy, but it sure is good.

1 large box instant vanilla pudding
3 C very cold milk

1 C heavy whipping cream
3 T powdered sugar
1 tsp vanilla

1 box of vanilla wafers (I used about 3 cups total)
2 bananas, sliced

1 tsp pumpkin pie pie, for garnish (optional)

Measure out your 3 cups of milk (or however much milk your pudding box calls for) and put it in the freezer for about 5 minutes to get it ice cold. In a medium bowl, whisk together your pudding mix and your milk. It should start to set in just a few minutes. Set aside.

In another bowl, use an electric mixer to whisk together your whipping cream, powdered sugar and vanilla until it thickens and a soft peak forms. Viola! Whipped cream!

Using a glass serving pan (mine was 6 x 9 but a typical 9 x 9 would work, too), begin to layer your items. First, put a single layer of vanilla wafers at the bottom of the pan. You don’t have to overlap them, just little rows of cookies. Top that with a thin layer of pudding, then whipped cream, then banana slices. Repeat these layers two more times. I like to end my layers with a topping of vanilla wafers. If you want, sprinkle with a little pumpkin pie spice on the top.

Let your pan set in the fridge for about an hour before serving so that the banana flavor has time to infuse.

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