Terrific served warm or cold, with or without mergingue
For the pudding:
- 3 egg yolks
(reserve egg whites for meringue
- 2 ¾ cups whole milk (22oz)
- ¼ cup cornstarch (35g)
- ⅛ teaspoon salt
- 1 (14-ounce) can sweetened condensed milk
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
For the meringue:
- ½ cup water (4oz)
- 1 cup granulated sugar (222g)
- 4 egg whites room temperature (125g)
- pinch salt
- ½ teaspoon cream of tartar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
For the layers:
- 3 cups sliced bananas about 1/2-inch thick (3 to 4 bananas)
- 7 ounces Nilla Wafer cookies
To prepare the pudding:
In a small bowl whisk together the egg yolks and about ½ cup (4-ounces) of milk. Set aside.
In a medium saucepan whisk together the cornstarch and salt. Add all remaining milk and the sweetened condensed milk. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly until the mixture is hot, steaming and just starts to boil.
While whisking constantly, carefully and slowly drizzle a third of the hot milk mixture into the egg yolks, to temper. Once combined, pour the egg mixture back into the saucepan and whisk to combine. Return the pan to the stove-top and cook over medium heat until the pudding is thick, about 5 minutes. Off-heat add the vanilla and butter. Stir until the butter is completely melted. See NOTE *
To prepare the meringue:
Combine the water and sugar in a small sauce pan. Bring to a full boil over medium-high heat. Allow the simple syrup to boil for 5 minutes, then remove from the heat. Set aside.
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment, beat the egg whites on medium-low until frothy, about 1 minute. Add the cream of tartar and salt. Continue beating on medium-high until soft peaks form.
With the mixer running on medium-low, carefully drizzle the hot syrup in a slow, stream down the side of the mixing bowl into the egg whites. Add the vanilla and beat on medium-high until the meringue has cooled a bit and stiff, glossy peaks form, about 8 to 10 minutes.
To layer the pudding:
See NOTE ** Layer the bottom of the dish with sliced bananas. Top with a dollop of pudding enough to just cover the bananas. Layer Nilla wafers over the pudding. Repeat the layers starting with bananas, then pudding, then vanilla wafers. Depending on how deep your dish is, you may need to repeat with a third layer. Top with any remaining banana slices.
Spread dollops of meringue over the pudding. Spread in a decorative manner with peaks and swirls. Brown the meringue using a kitchen or culinary torch, or in the oven with the broiler set on low. Watch the meringue carefully to prevent burning. Serve immediately or cool and refrigerate until needed.
Eggs are easier to separate while cold. However, egg whites should be room temperature before making the meringue for loftier volume.
This recipe for meringue makes enough for a big lofty topping. If you don't want a lot of meringue, cut the recipe in half.
Make sure there’s no egg yolk in your whites. This can cause the meringue to fail. Also, use a clean bowl and clean whisk to achieve a fluffy meringue.
Meringues are best made on sunny days.
* The pudding can be made ahead and refrigerated until needed. If storing for later use and assembly, transfer to a bowl. Press a piece of plastic wrap directly onto the entire surface of the pudding to prevent a film from forming. Cool and refrigerate until needed. If chilled before using add a few tablespoons of milk to the pudding to loosen slightly, if desired.
** Banana pudding can be assembled in a variety of 2 quart casseroles, trifle bowls or 6 to 8 individual dessert dishes. If browning the meringue in the oven or under the broiler, make sure your dish is oven or broiler-proof. If using a kitchen or culinary torch, any decorative dish will do.
Banana pudding can be served warm or cold.
Banana Pudding will keep well for up to 3 days when refrigerated.
Meringue recipe adapted from America’s Test Kitchen