103. Banana Pudding–Over-Ripe Fruit at Its Best

3 Apr

Southern banana pudding by Evil Shenanigans

One of the perks of being the child of a Southern Baptist preacher (besides, of course, having your most embarrassing childhood antics immortalized in sermons) is that folks occasionally show up at the house with food.

I would never admit to rating congregants based on the quality and frequency of their culinary gifts. But if I were to do such a churlish thing, the winner would be Donnie of the aforementioned chicken and dumplings. First runner up in the (imaginary, y’all) savory category goes to Vicky J.’s lasagna and garlic bread. However, Vicky takes first prize in the dessert category. “There’s a dessert category?” Does bacon come from pigs? (Surely, no one will argue that bacon can also come from turkey. That’s not bacon. That’s a travesty!)

Yes! We have no bananas...

Anyhoo, Vicky breezes past the competition with her banana pudding. Those of y’all who’ve never had banana pudding may be wondering how such a dish could ever win (an imaginary!) dessert contest. There’s not even chocolate in it, and nary a nut to be found. You might think of pudding as something only old folks, hospital prisoners, and people lacking tastebuds would eat. Oh, no. You’re probably thinking of banana-flavored pudding (or more often, chocolate-flavored, still no nuts).

Banana pudding is an entirely different creature. First of all, it starts with actual bananas. Not just any old bananas (or worse, new!). They should be slightly riper than you’d like with cereal, but nowhere near banana bread territory (or smoothie for Seattle folks). The other key components are pudding and Nilla Wafers.

Pick the middle one.

What makes Vicky’s banana pudding so delectable is that she has the optimal balance of ingredients. Some folks are stingy with the wafers. Some skimp on bananas. But Vicky’s banana pudding features an abundance of everything so that every time you dip the spoon, you get pudding, banana, and wafer all at once. (Anybody who eats with me on a regular basis has likely noticed that I’m a big fan of the “perfect bite.” It takes a bit longer to eat in this persnickety manner, but it’s worth it.)

When I went down to Memphis to welcome my newest nephew, Eli, my sister gave me a very important assignment (and if y’all know Jenna, you know how fond she is of giving assignments). She had Paula Deen’s banana pudding recipe and wanted me to whip up a batch and bring it to the hospital so she wouldn’t be forced to ingest institutional chocolate-flavored pudding or worse, green-flavored Jello.

One of the steps in Mrs. Deen’s recipe is to mix together a block of cream cheese with a can of sweetened condensed milk. I was tempted to stop right there and eat the whole bowl, but I feared the wrath of my sister and thus persevered.

Rather than use the traditional Nilla Wafers, Paula goes all fancy (and spendy) using Pepperidge Farm Chessmen cookies. I’m not sure they’re an improvement, but my tastebuds are heavily influenced by nostalgia, so I could be wrong. I’ve also heard of banana pudding made with Nutter Butter cookies, but haven’t tried it because I’d hate to end up on A&E’s “Intervention.”

While I’d never turn up my nose at Paula’s banana pudding, I’ll note that it IS made with boxed pudding mix (though thankfully NOT banana-flavored). I’ve tried my hand at a variety of banana pudding recipes over the years and my favorites are the made-from-scratch variety. Like my PerfectBite™, homemade custard takes a little more work, but it’s worth it. The next recipe I’m trying is from Evil Shenanigans, pictured at top.

What’s your favorite banana pudding recipe? Or if you don’t cook, where’s the best place to order it?

19 Responses to “103. Banana Pudding–Over-Ripe Fruit at Its Best”

  1. magefesausa April 3, 2012 at 10:18 am #

    That looks pretty healthy!

    • Kim Holloway April 4, 2012 at 3:20 pm #

      Compared to many Southern desserts, anyway. It actually contains fruit!

  2. Daughter Elle April 3, 2012 at 10:23 am #

    Oh my goodness, this looks amazing. I am in Boston and so squarely a ‘yank, but heavens, this just made my lunch feel so inadequate! I love your blog, its beautiful!

    • Kim Holloway April 4, 2012 at 3:23 pm #

      Thanks! If you’re in Boston, have you been to the Flour bakery? I had their cookbook out of the library for weeks, but never got around to making anything because all the recipes seem to feature 10 eggs or the juice of 12 lemons or both.

  3. Mallory Pickering April 3, 2012 at 10:33 am #

    I’m the rare Mississippi girl that doesn’t eat banana pudding (don’t like bananas), but I do have a church friend that makes me up a banana-less batch when she brings banana pudding for a dinner-on-the-ground. Delish! Course nothin’s better for my money than bread pudding with a white chocolate or bourbon sauce. Btw, Paula Deen has a GREAT bread pudding recipe. You should try!

    I’m from Jackson, MS, and have been lurking for awhile. Love the blog!

    • Kim Holloway April 4, 2012 at 3:33 pm #

      Welcome, Mallory! You might get along well with my sister who likes strawberry pie without the strawberries. I’ll have to do an entry on bread pudding soon, as it’s one of my favorite Southern delicacies. I’ve made Paula Deen’s N’awlins bread pudding with bourbon sauce. Love the bread pudding, but failed with the bourbon sauce both times I tried it and had to use a different recipe. Also, I always substitute rum for bourbon, just as a matter of personal preference.

      • e.f. bartlam April 6, 2012 at 8:13 am #

        Another visitor from Jackson…only I could eat a five gallon bucket of day old banana pudding.

        My wife makes it with the Chessmen and homeade whipped cream.

        Crushingly good.

        • Kim Holloway April 10, 2012 at 5:37 pm #

          i may betray my roots, but i’m a huge fan of homemade whipped cream. move over cool whip.

    • harold April 6, 2012 at 1:55 pm #

      Ma’am then you should try strawberry pudding. An aunt fixed some and it was plumb delicious. You just use strawberries instead of bananas.

      • Kim Holloway April 10, 2012 at 5:43 pm #

        That does sound delicious. I made something similar a few weeks ago. Homemade vanilla pudding layered with strawberries and ladyfingers. Yum!

    • Jenna Holloway Cochran April 12, 2012 at 10:28 am #

      OMG Mallory, Kim’s sister here…I know Kim has posted about Dinner-on-the-ground on here but I was talking about it just the other day with someone, my mid-western husband still does not understand what it is…that is, until we went to a church a couple of weeks ago here (in Jackson) and they had one…a whole new appreciation grew from him. I have to say, I agree with you, I think the banana pudding is better with a little less bananas in it. Also, don’t know if you have been, but the Majestic Restaurant here has some AWESOME bread pudding, and they serve it with a big ole bowl of ice cream, if you have not been I highly suggest you go. 🙂

      • Mallory Pickering April 12, 2012 at 10:45 am #

        Oh that sounds so good! I love their burgers but have never tried the bread pudding. Will do and soon! 🙂

      • Kim Holloway June 17, 2012 at 7:55 pm #

        Okay, Kim’s sister, why have you never mentioned to Kim that the Majestic restaurant has bread pudding with ice cream? Or that there is even a restaurant called “Majestic”? Where has this been all my life?

  4. Anne April 4, 2012 at 6:29 am #

    I’ve always found the one on the Nilla Wafer box works good for me – but you have to double the custard or you just don’t get perfect bites!

    • Kim Holloway April 4, 2012 at 3:34 pm #

      Yes! Someone who understands the importance of the perfect bite! Thanks for the tip, Anne!

  5. Tori Nelson April 4, 2012 at 11:51 am #

    Oh all the yum! My favorite banana pudding is my mom’s, of course. Everything tastes better from mama’s kitchen 🙂

    • Kim Holloway April 4, 2012 at 3:39 pm #

      Amen, Tori!

  6. Anonymous April 13, 2012 at 5:58 pm #

    I love day old banana pudding. The problem is it never sticks around that long!

  7. Matthew July 2, 2012 at 2:33 pm #

    Magnolia bakery in NYC, made famous by Sex in the City, is quite a haven for southern deserts. Their red velvet cake and pecan pie are great (although they should offer classes to their yankee staff on how to pronounce pecan right), and their cupcakes are so sweet they’ll make your teeth hurt. But the banana pudding is where its at! Here is the recipe:


    In their cookbook, the comment about how they spent a lot of time trying to make it all fancy, but in the end decided that you can’t get any better than jello pudding, canned condensed milk, and a box of good ‘ole nilla wafers. I’d be hard pressed to believe that Paula really improved the classic 😉

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