Food & Drink

From the recipe files: ‘Naner pudding

You know you want some: Classic banana pudding
You know you want some: Classic banana pudding Wendy Yang/Observer files

Why is banana pudding considered Southern? That’s one that has always been up for debate. In a recent post on the website Serious Eats, Charleston food writer Robert Moss did as good a job as anyone has in explaining the banana pudding origin story.

What no one debates, however, is what a great thing a simple banana pudding is. Really, it’s a form of a trifle, with vanilla wafers playing the role of cake, and it fits into the whole spectrum of summer puddings, along with its Italian couisin, tiramisu.

Early summer is the time to start pulling out our recipes for no-bake, light desserts. Light in texture, of course, not calories.

If you need more recipes, click the blue screen to get the search form for The Observer’s recipe archive, where you’ll find thousands of things – including a lot more variations on banana pudding, from fancy to simple.

Best-Ever Banana Pudding

Adapted from the 1990 "Hopewell Heritage Cookbook" from Hopewell Presbyterian Church in Charlotte. Evaporated milk gives the pudding a light brown color and a rich flavor.

1 1/2 cups light brown sugar, packed

2 tablespoons all-purpose flour

1 (11- or 12-ounce) can evaporated milk, shaken well

3/4 cup water

3 eggs

1/8 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon vanilla

1/4 cup butter

1 (12-ounce) box vanilla wafers

4 to 6 ripe bananas

Topping: Whipped topping, 2 cups heavy cream beaten with 2 tablespoons powdered sugar, or about 1 cup vanilla wafer crumbs

Whisk together brown sugar, flour, evaporated milk, water, eggs, salt and vanilla in a heavy saucepan or the top of a double boiler over a little simmering water. Add butter and cook over medium heat, stirring, until the butter melts.

Reduce heat to low and cook slowly, stirring often, until the mixture thickens and just starts to look a little curdled. Remove from heat and cool slightly.

Place a layer of vanilla wafers in the bottom of a 13-by-9-inch glass baking dish. Slice the bananas into rounds and place a layer of rounds on top of the wafers. Top with about half the pudding mixture, spreading to completely seal the wafers and bananas. Repeat layers, ending with pudding. Refrigerate until chilled.

Top with whipped topping, sweetened whipped cream or cookie crumbs.