I had some of my kids over for dinner this weekend and offered a choice of either peach cobbler or banana pudding.  My daughter chose banana pudding.  This is a down home southern comfort food.  You can’t do it justice with a box mix….nor is it healthy.  I haven’t used a pudding or jello mix in 20+ years.  In my book, they are right up there with canned frosting…yuck!

I thought I’d share the recipe that I use for those of you who might still be using the boxed mixes.  I hope to convert you!  This is a quick and easy recipe made with simple ingredients.  And the results?

Always a hit!

You’ll need a 9×9 oven proof dish (I used a bit larger and doubled the recipe to feed everyone!) and either a double boiler or the ability to stay at the stove until you’ve finished the recipe. It’s so quick, I cook mine in a large saucepan.

Here we go!

3/4 cup sugar
2 Tbsp. cornstarch
3 cups whole milk (grass-fed raw if you have it!)
4 egg yolks (from your own hens or a local farmer)
1 tsp. vanilla extract (remember I taught you how to make your own?)
1/2 stick butter
3  medium bananas – not green ones! (sliced into rings)
1 box vanilla wafers (or healthy equivalent!)

Mix the sugar and cornstarch in your saucepan.  I just took a whisk to it until the two were thoroughly mixed.  Turn your burner to medium/low. Slowly add the milk while whisking.  Keep whisking until mixture begins to bubble – be careful, it will boil right out of the pan if you don’t keep an eye on the heat! Keep whisking!  Put your egg yolks into a small bowl and temper them. This mean you are going to take a spoonful of your hot milk mixture and pour it into the egg yolks while stirring them – you don’t want to cook the egg yolks!  I do this several times.  Then add the egg mixture into the milk mixture on the stove and whisk it in. The purpose of tempering the yolks is so that you don’t cook the yolks when you put them into the milk mixture.  That would not make a smooth and creamy custard!

Continue to cook for 2 more minutes.  You should definitely see your custard begin to thicken up.  It will thicken a lot more when it cools so don’t worry.  Remove it from the heat and add the butter and vanilla…whisk them thoroughly into the mixture and let it cool.  I go ahead and pour a thin layer into the bottom of my pan.  It will cool quickly and help the pot cool down too.

Wait just a few minutes until the custard in the pan is set and layer it with your banana rings.  Then put a layer of cookies right on top of the bananas.  Once your custard has cooled a bit, pour some right on top of the cookies, add another layer of bananas and one last layer of cookies.  Cover the cookies with the remaining custard and you are done!  I take a few cookies and crumble over the top (because I don’t top this with meringue).  I also like to place a ring of cookies around the pan.

The deep yellow color comes from the egg yolks of our fabulous free-range hens! They are always a deep and vibrant orange.

Some families like to top this with meringue but that’s not our tradition.  You don’t need the oven-proof dish unless you plan on using meringue.  Since I don’t, it allows me to put this in a beautiful pan, or even a trifle bowl when I am serving a large crowd.

Put in refrigerator and cool until serving time.  Your custard will have a rich vanilla flavor with a subtle hint of banana.  The cookies will become almost like a sponge cake.  Your family will love this taste of the south!