Who knew banana pudding was such an elemental recipe? And who are we to argue. Grab a spoon and go!
For the pudding:
4 cups half and half
6 Tbls. cornstarch
1 vanilla bean
1 cup sugar
1 stick of butter
2 1/2 pounds bananas
1 box Vanilla Wafers
For the meringue:
8 large egg whites at room temperature
Cream of tartar
1 cup sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla
Whisk the cornstarch into a cup of the cold half and half. Then whisk in the eggs until completely blended. Heat the other 3 cups of half and half, with the vanilla bean, until they begin to steam a little. Drizzle the warm milk into the eggs, stirring constantly. Cook the mixture in a double boiler or a heavy bottomed pot over medium heat until it begins to thicken enough to coat a spoon. Sometimes this happens quickly, sometimes it takes forever. Whisk in the sugar and cook for a minute or two longer but take care because the custard will now scorch more easily. Remove the vanilla bean and stir in the butter in pieces. The butter will seem to thin the custard a little, but the affect is temporary. The butter must be completely absorbed.
Pour a cup or so of the custard into a pretty, ovenproof serving bowl. Swirl it around to coat the bowl. Line the bowl with vanilla wafers. Fill the bowl by layering it with custard, cookies, and bananas. Let the pudding settle.
Meanwhile, rinse a mixing bowl with vinegar and dust it with salt. Dump it out over the sink. The amount that remains in the bowl will be the right amount. Put the egg whites in the bowl and begin mixing at a low speed. Add a quarter teaspoon of cream of tartar and increase speed to medium. Feed in the sugar slowly. Increase the speed to almost max. Beat until the meringue is fairly stiff, bump the speed up to maximum for a minute. Then turn it back down to low and add the vanilla. Mix in well.
Spread the meringue all over the top of the pudding in dramatic swirls. Dust heavily with more sugar. Bake at 350 degrees for about fifteen minutes until pretty and brown.
Copyright © 2012, Bill Smith.
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