Hey ya’ll! Well, I gotta be honest with ya’ll. I had a great pics and a great write up about this banana pudding explaining how and why I came up with this recipe, but it all got erased and that magic has not struck me again. I wanted to put this out by today so that it could be a part of your NYE Dinner to bring in the new year the right way! I always like to have my last indulgent meal on New Year’s day, which encompasses all of the traditions: pork, greens, black eyed peas, cornbread and for my family, banana pudding! It means a lot to my family to have this meal as it represents the things we want in the coming year as well as the traditions that have been passed along to us over the history of our family.
As a southerner, banana pudding is a dessert that people love in a specific way. Some people love it with baked meringue on top, some prefer it cold and thick so you can make slices. Some people have taken it far beyond pudding, adding things such as cream cheese, sour cream and or sweetened condensed milk! I mean, people have leveled up. For me, I like it with bourbon. There’s something about that sweet, smoky flavor a whiskey provides that pairs so well with bananas and vanilla flavors, it seemed like a no-brainer when I started using it. In addition to the bourbon, I like to make my own pudding that’s intense with vanilla flavor, with some notes of nutmeg, and at times, cardamom, that make it uniquely my own and perfect for the cold months. I also prefer a cold banana pudding rather than a warm one. Something about that is just weird to me and I want no parts!
This pudding is insanely rich as it is made from scratch using egg yolks. It also uses a combination of whole milk and heavy cream to increase the richness and also offer stability. The milk here, can be any combination of whole milk, heavy cream, half and half and/or 2% milk. I wouldn’t go lower than that if you want to have a luxurious mouthfeel to your pudding. But as long as you have 3 cups total (reserving a 1/2 cup for the yolk custard), you’re all set. You can also use coconut milk to keep it dairy free, although this will alter the flavor to be coconut forward. Once your pudding is made and set, you can layer your cookies, pudding and bananas. If you’re feeling adventurous, add a layer of salted caramel or butterscotch to the layers, right on top of the bananas. I like to use a 7 x 10..5” dish or a trifle bowl for mine, but you can use what you have on hand! Since this recipe is for the masses, I’ve left it out, but the suggestion remains for more exploratory palates. For cookies, I like a combination of 2: graham crackers and either vanilla wafers or gingersnaps. The graham crackers offer a sturdy base for the pudding as well as that flavor only graham crackers can provide while the vanilla wafers offer the tradition we all know and love in banana pudding. Whenever I’m looking for a lot of depth to my dish, I use gingersnaps as their subtle spiciness can offer a great contrast to the cool trifle. Once you’re all layered up, let it chill to come together then serve. Just make sure to get out of the way because people will attack!
I made this for my New Years dinner at the beginning of 2018 and people were taking to go portions in plastic cups wrapped in foil just to be able to take it with them. The bonus of this recipe is that the pudding recipe can be eaten as is or with the bourbon left out of it if you want to serve to kids as a snack. You’ll appreciate it much more flavor wise than the box or plastic cup version. Something about homemade pudding that just makes you feel like a “real” cook!