My Southern friends often chastise me for my take on the classic and oh-so-comforting banana pudding. It’s certainly not because they do not enjoy it, as they tend to devour it like starved and unrestrained 70’s stoners. Rather, they assert that I am quick to bastardize a regional preparation and brand it with my touch. Often I hear echoes of “Can’t you leave well enough alone” or “Only you, Marky!”
Naturally, self-monickered perfectionista, connoisseur-wannabe, and goofball blend that I am, I attempt to make the less elegant, more so … or the mundane, more meaningful. Simply put, however, I try to give the noble pudding the pedigree it needs to be dished proudly next to any Peach Melba, Cherries Jubilee, or that upstart cousin, Bananas Foster!
So for you, my Canadian comrade in sweetened comforts, this is my humble and brief attempt at a recipe (mind you, I usually “wing it” as I embark on all such matters in a stream of free form expression):
Take your favorite and most appropriate casserole or dessert dish and make certain it is adequately washed, as mine are often dusty from casual storage. No matter how tasty a morsel is, a random cat hair or pillow feather tends to negate any cravings, except for the above mentioned 70’s stoner.
Prepare your pudding mixture. I suggest you use the recipe that brings you comfort, ease, and familiarity in preparation. I add to that quartered banana slices and a 1/3 cup of amaretto. If you should add any liqueur (as I often will) be certain to reduce the amount of milk, so as to avoid a running consistency upon serving.
Fill the sparkling and pristine dish with your pudding mixture, to about the 1/3 mark., allowing room for the rise when adding bananas and wafers.
Take Lorna Doone shortbread cookies (substitute the Walker variety, my UK buds) and place them artfully and geometrically in the designated dish. I opt for meticulous rows and columns, usually about ½ inch apart.
Once all the shortbread is in pace and at attention, pour the remainder of the pudding mixture to just above the tops of the cookies.
Place the pudding in the icebox for twenty-four hours to allow ample time for it to congeal and “set up” (as it were, Scarlet). I find banana pudding primes better for the taste AND the presentation if it is not rushed or quickly chilled.
Before serving, I generously fold crème fraiche over the top and sprinkle on that a mixture of crumbled shortbread and nutmeg. Yes, CoolWhip, RediWhip, or any other prepared dessert topping will suffice. But if YOU, my friends, were indeed coming to Marklewood for dessert and coffee, I would most certainly use crème fraiche.
Spoon, dish, and serve the banana pudding, then, in the manner that best suits your style, the tempo of your get-together, and the appetite of your guests.
So create, enjoy, and entertain thus and remember my banana pudding. Please do not judge it harshly, for it was I who chose to exclude the revered Vanilla Wafers and embellish a classic.
(Image by Urbain Dubois.)