Few North Carolinians can agree who makes the best barbecue, but we all agree that it should be chased with a dish of banana pudding. A Southern interpretation of an
Few North Carolinians can agree who makes the best barbecue, but we all agree that it should be chased with a dish of banana pudding. A Southern interpretation of an English trifle, banana pudding knows no season, only devotion.
Some people like their banana pudding topped with toasted meringue. Others vote for billows of whipped cream. Some want it warm. Others want it deeply chilled. It goes without saying that banana pudding is layered, not stirred.
Barbecue is contentious. Banana pudding is a peacemaker.
Yield: 12 servings.
For the Pudding
1 cup sugar
½ cup all-purpose flour
½ teaspoon salt
4 cups whole milk
4 large egg yolks, at room temperature
1 tablespoon butter
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
6 small ripe, firm bananas, cut into thin rounds (about 6 cups)
8 ounces vanilla wafers (about 60 cookies)
For the Meringue
4 large egg whites, at room temperature
½ teaspoon cream of tartar
½ cup sugar
For the pudding: Whisk together the sugar, flour, and salt in a large, heavy saucepan or in the top of a double boiler. (If using a double boiler or a metal bowl sitting securely over a saucepan, fill the bottom pot about ⅓ full of water and bring to a simmer. The top pot should not touch the hot water.)
Add the milk in a slow, steady stream, whisking continuously until smooth. Whisk in the egg yolks. Cook over medium heat, stirring continuously with a heatproof spatula, until the pudding thickens and just begins to bubble around the edges, about 10 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the butter and vanilla.
Line the bottom of a large, oven-safe serving bowl with vanilla wafers. Top with a layer of banana slices. Pour a thin layer of pudding over the bananas, spreading it with the spatula. Repeat the layers until you have used all of the remaining ingredients, ending with a top layer of pudding.
For the meringue: Preheat the oven to 325°. Place the egg whites and cream of tartar in a clean, dry, spotless metal or glass bowl. Beat with an electric mixer set to medium speed until foamy. Increase the mixer speed to high and add the sugar in a slow, steady stream, beating until the meringue is glossy and stiff peaks form, 2 to 4 minutes. Spoon the meringue over the warm pudding, spreading to the edges of the bowl. Use the back of the spoon to make pretty swirls and peaks in the meringue.
Bake until the meringue is golden brown with toasted peaks, 15 to 20 minutes. Cool on a wire rack for 30 minutes. Serve slightly warm, or cool completely and refrigerate until chilled.print it