Dessert Week: Esme's Banana Pudding - Sweet Potato Chronicles - Sweet Potato Chronicles

Dessert Week: Esme's Banana Pudding

Your guess is as good as mine why Esme started ask­ing me for banana pud­ding about two months ago. I don't believe she's ever had it unless she's mak­ing covert trips to the South with­out me know­ing. I know I've never had it and was sur­prised to find that there's no banana in the pud­ding at all.  It's more like an Eng­lish tri­fle that you assem­ble into lay­ers. I learned it's a clas­sic South­ern dessert with all the vari­a­tions you expect in home cook­ing clas­sics. Some sounded like creamy, deli­cious heaven and some sounded down right gross, made with all sorts of pre-fab mixes. And as you know, that's not how we roll. As I often do when I want to know about a kind of dessert I've never made before, I turned to The Joy of Bak­ing and as usual Stephanie Jaworski's recipe and expla­na­tion were per­fect.  I can't say I'd take the time to make home made pud­ding on the reg­u­lar as it is a bit of effort and you've got to really watch it but if you're going to go for it why not do it up right?

The bril­liance of this dessert is the con­trast in tex­tures — the silky vanilla pud­ding against the crunch of the vanilla cook­ies and the lus­cious, sweet banana. It was really good. Esme was on set with me and so she helped put these together. The one she made for her­self does not appear in the photo was not made by Esme. Hers was a kind of crazy tower of excess which over­flowed the bowl and was con­sumed before its more attrac­tive coun­ter­parts made it to set.




photo by Maya Vis­nyei

Banana Pud­ding

3 1/2 cups milk
1/3 plus 1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup corn­starch
1/4 tsp salt
2 large eggs plus 1 large egg yolk
2 tsp vanilla
1 Tbsp unsalted but­ter
5 or 6 just ripe bananas
About 3/4 cup of vanilla wafer cook­ies bro­ken into bite sized pieces (I used Nabisco's Nilla cook­ies and they were per­fect)
Gar­nish with whipped cream, banana slices and vanilla wafer cook­ies 


In a big, steel bowl, whisk together corn­starch, eggs and the egg yolk, salt and 1/3 cup of sugar. Then add 1/2 cup of milk and keep whisk­ing until every­thing is well com­bined. Set this mix­ture aside for now.

Get a medium-sized, heavy-bottomed sauce pan out. Now for my favourite pud­ding mak­ing trick. Rinse cold water from the tap into the sauce pan and then empty it out. That sheer film of water is going to help keep your pud­ding from stick­ing or scorch­ing. Place the saucepan on the stove top and add 3 cups of milk and 1/4 cup of sugar. Bring it just to the boil then take it off the heat. Using a  ladle, pour scoops of the hot milk into the egg mix­ture, whisk­ing as you go. Keep adding spoon­fuls of the hot milk into the egg and whisk­ing until the egg mix­ture is warmed up, then you can just grad­u­ally pour the hot milk in with­out cur­dling the eggs.

Trans­fer the mix­ture to a clean sauce pan — either the same one you used for the milk, just give it a quick wash or a new one — and place over medium/low heat. Stir­ring con­stantly, cook for about 3 to 5 min­utes until you've got a may­on­aise tex­ture. I think the best tool for the job is a flex­i­ble spat­ula as it allows you to into the cor­ners or your pot. (I don't even know why I'm telling you I found the twit­ter fight between Michael Ruhlman, Ted Allen and Eric Ripert on whether a wooden spoon or spat­ula is the appro­pri­ate tool for the job strangely sexy stuff. TMI?)


Now get it right off the heat and stir in the but­ter and vanilla. Pour the pud­ding through a fine mesh sieve and into a bowl to remove any lumps that may have formed. I know, I know, one more thing to wash but you've come this far and it's worth it, I promise. Cover with cling film and place in the fridge for at least an hour or over night.

Okay, now for the fun part! Assem­ble your banana pud­ding by get­ting all of your ingre­di­ents ready. Of course you could use any kind of dessert bowls to serve these in but it's nice to see the lay­ers, so glass par­fait bowls or even wine glasses if you can trust your kids to not shat­ter them. You're just going to make lay­ers — crum­bled vanilla wafers, a cou­ple spoon­fuls of pud­ding, slices of bananas and repeat. Fin­ish with a layer of pud­ding and top with a dol­lop of whipped cream, a banana slice and a vanilla cookie. If you think you're not going to serve all of the pud­ding then don't assem­ble them all as the cook­ies will lose their crunch if you assem­ble the tri­fles and then put them in the fridge. Enjoy!




  1. Laura says:

    Banana pud­ding may be my favourite dessert ever. I think I must have been a South­ern Belle in a pre­vi­ous life!

  2. Ceri Marsh says:

    I can absolutely see you as a South­ern Belle! Have you made it before? I really don't know how Esme got the idea for it but it's soooo god.

  3. Yel­low, and deli­cious look­ing. Per­fect for spring! Thanks for shar­ing this great post.

  4. I just put the pud­ding in the fridge to cool, and I took a lit­tle taste. Super yummy! I can't wait for the fin­ished prod­uct. Thanks for sharing :)

  5. Ceri Marsh says:

    You're so wel­come! I hope the final prod­uct was just as delish!!

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