Banana pudding is a type of dessert made of layers of sweet vanilla-flavored custard, cookies, and slices of fresh bananas. It is placed in a dish, served by topping with meringue or whipped cream, and looks similar to an English trifle assembled in layers and includes custard, sponge cake, fruit, and whipped cream.
You can prepare banana pudding via two methods: baked and refrigerated. Many different recipes have been adapted using vanilla instead of an actual custard. Banana pudding is also associated with Southern American cuisine, but you can find it anywhere around the country. If you want to learn more about this sweet dessert, read on as we’re giving you more information about banana pudding.
The History of Banana Pudding in America
Before the Civil War, banana pudding did not exist in America. It was because bananas were not common in the states back in those times. There were very few bananas that made it to America in the mid-1800s. It was usually from places like the West Indies, and those bananas were treated as rare and exotic fruits that rich people only enjoyed.
Later in that century, steamship travel boosted trade, and it made bananas a more staple item. When 1874 came, bananas were found almost everywhere and could be purchased by all people easily. Millions of bananas were imported to the United States. By the end of the 19th century, people began incorporating it into different dishes, including banana pudding.
Magazines and newspapers referenced banana pudding in the late 19th century. But the recipes before did not follow the creamy and cookie-encrusted banana pudding versions that we are familiar with today. A recipe from 1888 called for layering sponge cake with bananas, pouring custard over them, and topping with whipped cream. In that recipe, you can see the modern banana pudding being created.
Vanilla wafers and cookers were not a popular ingredient of banana pudding until the 20th century. In the 1920s, cookbooks and magazines featured banana pudding recipes that were not baked and included vanilla wafers. The Nilla Wafer by Nabisco jumped on the bandwagon and marketed it as the perfect ingredient in banana pudding. They even include banana pudding recipes on the boxes.
Banana pudding became a popular dessert across the United States from that time onwards, making it an icon of southern desserts.
Banana Pudding Ingredients
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Traditionally, banana, vanilla custard, vanilla wafers, or ladyfinger biscuits are used in making banana pudding. If you want to make a fresh custard, you will need egg yolk, sugar, and milk. Then, meringue or whipped cream is used as a topping. However, some of these ingredients are no longer used by many home cooks, as there are newer recipes that are easier to make but still taste delicious.
If you are thinking about making a banana pudding for dessert, here’s a banana pudding recipe that you can follow:
- ¾ cup of sugar
- ¼ cup of all-purpose flour
- ¼ teaspoon of salt
- 3 cups of 2% milk
- 3 large eggs
- 1 ½ teaspoon of vanilla extract
- 8 ounces of vanilla wafers, divided (around 60 cookies)
- 4 large ripe bananas (cut into ¼-inch slices)
- Get a large saucepan, mix the sugar, flour, and salt, and add milk. Cook the mixture and stir it over medium heat until it thickens and becomes bubbly. Reduce the heat to low and cook it for two more minutes while stirring continuously before removing it from heat.
- Get a small bowl and whisk the eggs. Mix a small amount of the hot mixture into the eggs, then pour them into the pan while constantly whisking. Bring the mixture to a gentle boil and let it cook for two more minutes. After that, remove the pan from heat and stir in the vanilla extract. Let it cool for 15 minutes while stirring occasionally.
- Get an ungreased 8-inch square baking dish and pour in half of the vanilla wafers, half of the banana slices, and half of the pudding. Repeat the layers.
- Press a sheet of plastic wrap on the pudding and place it in the refrigerator for around 4 hours or overnight. Before serving, remove the plastic wrap, crush the remaining wafers, and sprinkle them on top of the pudding. Serve and enjoy!
Tips about Banana Pudding
Here are a few tips that we can give about banana pudding:
Keep it Refrigerated
Banana puddings can last up to 4 days when stored covered in the refrigerator.
Cook the Hot Mixture Thoroughly To Prevent a Runny Banana Pudding
Some people end up with a runny banana pudding. To prevent this from happening, after you add the eggs into the hot mixture, you need to allow it to reach at least 155°F for them to cook thoroughly. Try to bring it to a gentle boil to ensure that you reach the target temperature. Also, refrigerating for 4 hours or longer will help thicken and solidify the pudding.
Brush Some Lemon Juice Or Other Citrus Onto The Sliced Bananas To Prevent Them From Turning Brown
Citrus acid can help in slowing down the browning process in sliced bananas.
Serve it Cold
The best way to serve banana pudding is cold, with crushed vanilla wafers on top. You can slice it and serve it into individual cups if you want a fancier presentation.
Always Use Ripe Bananas
Do not use overly ripe bananas for making this delicious dessert. It is best to use ripe bananas for banana pudding. In addition to making this desert look appealing to the eyes, ripe bananas also enhance the taste as they perfectly balance the creamy custard and the toppings. Using overly ripe bananas will render your desert very banana-flavored.
Make Homemade Pudding
If the time allows, it is better to make homemade pudding (be it banana or vanilla pudding). The cooked versions of pudding mix already have sweetened condensed milk and cream cheese whisked together in them, which in turn, might make your dessert sweeter. Making your pudding at home will allow you to control the sweetness of the pudding better and add a loving touch to it.
Banana Pudding is the Best Potluck Dessert
Banana pudding is served chilled. It is best to keep it refrigerated till it is time to serve. It is probably the main reason banana pudding is a hit during potlucks. You can make it beforehand and store it in the fridge until serving time.
Storing it in Advance
You can make and even assemble banana pudding in advance to save some of your precious time. To store it in the refrigerator, assemble the whole thing minus the toppings and cover it tightly with a sheet of plastic wrap. Press the plastic wrap gently over the pudding so that the cold air does not form a hard skin over the pudding.
Remove the sheet and top with your favorite topping, such as whipped cream, and serve. The pudding will be as good as new.
Do Not Leave Your Spoon in the Pudding
The late-night sweet cravings force us to binge-eat the refrigerated pudding. While there is no judgment on anyone’s part, the only tip is to not leave your spoon in the pudding cup or bowl as it will ruin the consistency of the pudding and make it runny. Our saliva contains an enzyme that starts the digestion of the starch molecules in the pudding.
Banana pudding is indeed a trendy and delicious dessert. It is a versatile treat to make as you can create it however you want. You can include additional ingredients or alternative ingredients to make it more delicious and flavorful. No wonder it has become a popular dessert in the United States. We hope this helped you learn more about banana pudding.