Baked Banana Pudding

Baked Banana Pudding

I'm pretty new to this food-blogging thing so I don't have a lot of link-tos yet, but Elise of Simply Recipes is the one person who calls mine "great Southern food." I'll take that because a lot of what I make is in fact driven by nostalgia from growing up in North Carolina, helping in my grandmother's and Great Aunt Maggie's kitchens. Now, I'm certainly not professionally trained in the food industry so I basically have no idea what I'm talking about in most aspects, including what I'm about to say, but it seems to me that Southern cooking has a lot of French influence. Cream soups, bread-baking, layered desserts, and puddings and meringues - which brings me to my current obsession: banana pudding. I love it.

Assembling Pudding

Luckily, it's a common thing in these parts because almost all barbecue restaurants serve it. (And that's pork barbecue - the smoked, chopped, sauced kind.) It seems to me to be a quintessential Southern dessert. It's found at picnics, church lunches, school-cafeteria lines, homestyle restaurants, and sometimes in more gourmet restaurants - made to be served individually, not piled in a bowl (which is actually the best way, all smashed together!) This recipe didn't call for a meringue - but to me it's just not real banana pudding without that sweet, fluffy topping. I used the meringue recipe in The All New All Purpose Joy of Cooking, mostly because I'm new to this game, but any recipe will work, if you're making warm banana pudding, that is. It's my favorite kind.

Sure, you can throw this together with that stuff out of a box, but when it's this easy why would you cheat? And if you're making it for me please layer in those 'nilla wafers. They may very well be my favorite part.

Banana Pudding
Adapted from AllRecipes
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2 eggs, beaten
2.5 cups milk
1/2 cup sugar
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 tablespoon butter
About half a box of vanilla wafers
4 to 5 bananas, sliced

1. In a double boiler over simmering water, whisk eggs, milk, sugar, cornstarch and salt. Stir constantly and cook until thick, 10 to 15 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in vanilla and butter.
2. Using half the vanilla wafers, make a layer in the bottom of a glass serving dish. Top with half the banana slices. Then layer half the pudding. Repeat. Serve now, or set aside while you make meringue. (Optional)

For meringue topping
1. Make meringue. (Try this recipe.)
2. Spoon onto top layer of pudding, and using back of spoon pull it up, creating peaks.
3. Broil until tips of peaks are just browned. Watch it closely! Serve immediately or refrigerate until serving.