Memories of the Texas winds drifting through the screen doors, making their way from one side of my Grandparent’s house to the other. The rustling of the leaves on the cottonwood trees breaking the quiet of the country afternoon. Sweet tea with beads of moisture running down the side of the glass. And there on the kitchen table – a bowl filled with cold, creamy banana pudding.
There is nothing quite as comforting – or as Southern – as banana pudding. Pillows of fluffy cream with layers of sweet bananas and vanilla wafers magically transformed into little cake-like bites.
I have so many recipes for banana pudding but this is closest to the one my Mom made. Original versions of this classic dessert start with a vanilla custard slowly cooked on the stovetop. Wonderful indeed, but our schedules don’t always allow us the luxury of time. This recipe cuts the prep time in half by taking advantage of those little boxes of instant pudding – a trick my Mom shared!
The vanilla pudding is folded into a luscious blend of lightly sweetened whipped cream and mascarpone cheese. Then vanilla wafers and bananas are cradled between layers of the delightful fluff!
Some tips: Don’t use overly ripe bananas for this dessert. You want them to hold up in the custard. For the vanilla wafers, I use Slaton Bakery’s Vanilla Wafers – they are exceptional! Baked in a local bakery in Slaton, Texas, their vanilla wafers and gingersnaps are now widely available in Texas and online.
The milk is reduced for the amount of pudding mix. This provides a thicker base for folding into the whipped cream mixture. And if you haven’t discovered mascarpone cheese – it’s an Italian style cream cheese and milder in flavor than commercial cream cheese. It provides a subtle richness and structure to the whipped cream. Mascarpone cheese is sold in most food markets but if you can’t find it, you can use softened cream cheese as a substitute.
Pour yourself a glass of sweet tea, spoon up a dish of this classic Southern goodness, enjoy the memories – and create some new ones!
40 to 50 vanilla wafers
3-4 firm bananas, sliced
3 cups cold milk
2 packages instant vanilla pudding, 5-ounce packages
2 cups heavy cream
1 carton mascarpone cheese, 8-ounces
½ cup powdered sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Crushed vanilla wafers for garnish
In a medium mixing bowl combine the pudding mix and the milk. Whisk for 2 minutes until the pudding has thickened. Chill for about 30 minutes.
In a large mixing bowl, whip the heavy cream on medium speed until it starts to thicken. Add the mascarpone cheese, the powdered sugar and the vanilla extract. Continue beating until the cream is thick and stiff peaks form.
Gently fold the chilled pudding into the whipped cream mixture until blended.
Line the bottom of a deep bowl or trifle dish with vanilla wafers. Cover with a layer of the pudding and whipped cream.
Place a layer of the banana slices on top of the cream.
Repeat the layers finishing with the cream on top.
Garnish with a sprinkling of crushed vanilla wafers. Chill well before serving… If you can wait!