Do you like banana pudding? My dad was raised in Kentucky during the depression and they were quite poor, but they lived on a farm and grew most of their food which was a blessing. He was never much of a dessert eater (mostly a meat, potatoes, greens and beans kind of guy), but one of his all time favorites, as far as desserts go, was banana pudding. My mom didn't make a lot of desserts, but once in a while she would whip up a banana pudding for Sunday dinner. That always made dad happy.
This recipe is not your typical banana pudding and there is the perpetual argument whether to use Vanilla Wafers or graham crackers. Dad was a Vanilla Wafer guy, so Vanilla Wafers it was. This recipe also uses Vanilla Wafers. I'm not a purist, so I can go with either one.
Did you know there is a banana pudding festival? There sure is! It will be held October 6, 2012 in Centerville, Tennessee, and here are the directions to get there just in case you want to go:
LOCATIONS/DIRECTIONSEast from Memphis or west from Nashville. Take I 40 to exit 148.
Turn South toward Centerville on Hy 50. Go 15.5 miles to Lower Shipp Bend RD.
Turn Left. Go 1 mile.
From I 65, take exit 46(Columbia/Chapel Hill) and go toward Columbia on Hwy. 421 about 12 miles. Take Hwy. 50 toward Centerville about 25 miles. Turn left on Hwy. 50 West, go 2 miles to Lower Shipps Bend Rd. and Turn right. Go 1 mile.
In case you weren't aware, banana pudding is a Southern staple - more than a staple, it is expected. Church dinners, Sunday dinner, summertime treats, pot lucks, nighttime snack - it's banana pudding! Well, there are a few others, but banana pudding is mandatory - it is a necessity to have at least one banana pudding on the table!
The recipe I am using here comes from Kraft, Inc., and it can be made low fat and reduced calorie by using low fat cream cheese, lite Cool Whip and sugar free instant vanilla pudding. But, where's the fun in that? I went for the gusto! Here is what you need.
35-40 Vanilla wafers, crushed
1/4 stick butter, melted
12 ounce container cool whip
1 8 oz block cream cheese, room temperature
3-5 bananas depending on size
2 boxes vanilla instant pudding
3 cups cold milk
I used fresh strawberries and some dark chocolate to decorate the top.
Crush 35-40 Vanilla Wafers. I put them in a zip lock bag and crushed them with my rolling pin by rolling it back and forth over the bag. Melt the 1/4 stick of butter in the microwave and add it to the Vanilla Wafers that you have placed in a small bowl. Mix them together and put them in the bottom of a 9 x 13 pan. They are still kind of loose and crumbly, not like a baked crust.
Next, mix the 8 oz block of cream cheese and 1.5 cups of Cool Whip. I used my hand mixer to make sure it was well mixed. Place big "blobs" of this mixture over the Vanilla Wafers and smooth it out. Using the back of a spoon makes it easier. It will look like the next two pictures.
Now, slice your bananas and cover the entire surface of the cream cheese/cool whip mixture. I used 4 bananas because mine weren't very big. You can just play it by ear. I cut one up at a time and placed them so I didn't peel and cut too many.
Now, make the instant pudding by placing both packages in a deep bowl and adding 3 cups of cold milk. I mixed it with a hand mixer until it began to thicken. Pour it over the bananas and spread evenly over the entire pan.
I put the pan in the refrigerator for about an hour until the pudding was completely set. I removed it from the "fridge" and put a nice coating of Cool Whip over the pudding mixture. You may have a little Cool Whip left or feel free to use it all! It's up to you.
This is where I got decorative - and where I would make a few changes next time I make it. I sliced some strawberries and placed them on the top so that when I cut the pudding into squares, each piece would have a strawberry in the middle. Next time, I would put a layer of sliced strawberries over the bananas before adding the pudding. The strawberries are scrumptious with the pudding! Then, I would add a few more on top for decoration.
We had some dark chocolate wafers that we had bought at World Market, the kind with krispy things in them. (yum) I used a paring knife and cut them into small crumbles and sprinkled them over the top. They make the pudding super extra special, but I would add some more next time! Chocolate and strawberries with bananas make you think of what? Banana split? Uh huh? That's right! Oh My Goodness! Now we have a whole new level of dessert! Yes indeed!! This is how it looks "inside."
I am sitting here eating a small mound of this delectable dessert while I type this blog post. Let me tell you, it is more than good! Talk about childhood memories with a kick!! Wowee! It is super good with a lovely cup of hot coffee too! Now, you are probably drooling and looking around to see if you have any bananas in the house. If not, run out now and get some. You have got to try this one!
Things to Remember:
One of Elvis's favorite things was banana pudding! : )