Banana pudding is one of those quintessential, down south, home-cooking desserts. I have fond memories of after-church events where we would find a large pan of this creamy-crunchy treat. Those round, brown ‘Nilla Wafers’ were layered with sliced bananas and creamy vanilla pudding. I loved the bits of cookie that hadn’t completely disintegrated from the weight and moisture of the pudding. Those crunchy little bits of the cookies were my favorite! As much as I love this dessert, I had never made it myself. I was delighted when I saw the recipe as I perused Carla Hall’s newest cookbook, “Carla Hall’s Soul Food.”
Carla Hall is continuing to bring her love of soulful food to the mainstream with this newest cookbook. And as nostalgic as those ‘Nilla Wafers are.. I’m really skeptical of a cookie whose entire branding is based on the fact that there isn’t actually any real vanilla in it (hence the name “‘Nilla…”) Carla’s Banana Pudding recipe takes this rustic, soul food dessert and gives it am upgrade: No more ‘nilla wafers! Instead, there’s a delightfully buttery and crumbly shortbread cookie. Plus, instead of the Jell-O box vanilla pudding, there’s a pastry cream with mashed bananas cooked into it for double the banana goodness!
To make this dish, layer shortbread cookies with creamy banana custard and sliced bananas. The dish is then topped with meringue which can be browned in the oven, or toasted with a kitchen torch! (Of course, I love any chance I have to use my kitchen torch!)
This dessert was so good I made it twice in one week. I used a large trifle bowl the second time to make it family-style, and it was so classy! But, you can use any casserole dish.
For full recipe, see Carla’s book. For my classic banana pudding recipe, click here.
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