The best banana pudding I ever tasted was made by my grandmother. She made the custard from scratch, loaded it down with banana’s and then would line the bowl with fresh crisp nilla wafers and NO meringue ! I have never been a meringue fan. Unfortunately my grandmother is no longer with us and I have not tasted anything close to it since. My mother even tried with my grandmother’s (her mother) recipe, but it was just not the same. I guess it had something to do with the freshly gathered farm eggs or whatever that extra special ingredient she put in it was. I love it served warm !
I totally forgot… last time I made a banana cream pie with evaporated milk intead of regular milk and cream, it was much more intense! Evaporated milk beats out milk or cream any day. And brown sugar over white. Now if all these suggestions still leave you bored, what about streaks of caramel or peanut butter? I haven’t tried it, but why not go crazy once in awhile?
The best banana pudding I ever ate was at a little unprepossessing diner on Gallatin Pike in Nashville named The Ranch House. The stuff would melt in your mouth. The girl who made it was 18 years old and learned from her great-grandmother; she also made wondrous just-flaky-enough biscuits, white gravy to melt your heart, and cornbread (the flat kind cooked on a grill) that had a little bitter taste in it. That was 15 years ago: her boyfriend was a skinny guy, and I joked that if he married her, he wouldn’t stay that way. Gracious, did she ever have the touch.
Nostalgically, Ort. Carlton in Athens, Georgia.
P. S. When I try the Gateway Cafe’s banana pudding, I’ll report back to y’all.
Paul: If I give you a recipe for banana pudding will you promise to make it before you decide it isn’t for you? It isn’t like you have had before – I’ve made it from scratch for 30 years and when I made it this way, I swore I would never make it any other way! I love that sweet, warm flavor as much as anybody; but this is not cooked and I promise it won’t make the Weight Watcher’s list either; but gosh it is delicious!
1 large pkg instant Jell-o French vanilla pudding, (6 ounces)
2 1/2 cups cold milk
1 can sweetened condensed milk, (14 ounces)
1 container whipped topping, (16 ounces)
sliced bananas (ripe,speckled)
vanilla wafer cookies
Mix pudding and milk; add condensed milk. Blend well; fold in half the whipped topping.
Alternate layers of pudding, bananas and vanilla wafers; top with remaining whipped topping and a few banana slices.
Refrigerate overnight before serving.
*since this isn’t cooked, the bananas can be quite ripe and they will stay better than if your filling is hot – makes for a better flavor.
If you like your puddin’ warm, this won’t do; but if you are serving the next day it is the best cold pudding ever!
EliseT. Thanks for all the flavor enhancing ideas. Certainly I was not using your techniques. Another reader suggested that letting it age a day or so also improved. I have always used vanilla wafers. Perhaps I should add them at a later time. Seems to me that they would be mighty soggy.
Paul E. Smith
It should be "day old and bold!" Two days is even better to let the flavors meld.
With pudding, I go for "rich" over "jazzy"…try replacing a few eggs in the custard with egg yolks…half and half instead of milk. If you boil the milk/cream with vanilla beans in it, it will be stronger than adding vanilla extract. I also agree that the ripeness of the bananas is key.
Are you baking it, or useing a mix? My aunt would make a banana pudding from scratch that was best when it was still warm from the oven. No short cuts here, best when made from scratch.
Try using bananas that are really turning soft. Generally speaking, when the skins start turning black and the banana is turning gooey, they are still safe — just not very appetizing. But the banana smell is a lot stronger, and since smell is a big part of taste (notice how nothing tastes right when your nose is stuffed up?) they will add more flavor to pudding. Remember, a lot of "soft" dishes (like pudding) were origninally made from scraps and leftovers — things that normally wouldn’t be eaten plain.
Everybody has banana pudding and mine is always blah! I have tried adding citric acid, cinnamon and other spices. Any idea how to jazz it up?
Paul E. Smith
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