Alternatively: Why everyone should have a shortbread recipe and a custard recipe in their arsenal.
It was an amazing day when I discovered banana pudding, and I've never looked back! I get a lot of requests for this pudding, and it's easy to see why. All it is, is layers of fresh banana slices, vanilla wafers (I just whip up a light shortbread and add vanilla), and custard, but it's delicious despite its simplicity. It's luscious and creamy and cool, with that lovely bite through the shortbread for texture. The other thing I love about this recipe is that all its components are staples in most households. Eggs, flour, sugar, butter, cornflour, vanilla essence. So whenever I get the hankering, everything I need is right there. No special trips required.
Apparently it's traditionally made with Nilla Wafers, but we don't get those where I live. Searching around for homemade vanilla wafers that were to be used in banana pudding, I tried a few recipes that left me thinking, "huh... this is just shortbread." So I just use a nice recipe for melting moments, the dough of which is shortbread and vanilla. The custard is one I've used before, in my cherry crumble with custard. It's dependable and delicious, so I'm not about to go fixin' what ain't broke!
This recipe makes about 3 layers worth in a large container or bowl, definitely a party size! But it's easy to size up or down, just divide or multiply the ingredients as you need.
Adapted from Not Quite Nigella
6 egg yolks
3 whole eggs
300g caster sugar
6 tbsp cornflour
1200ml non-fat milk (or you could use 690ml cream and 510ml regular milk, it's up to you!)
6 tsp vanilla essence (yes you NEED this much vanilla essence or it will taste eggy)
1) Whisk together the egg and yolks, sugar, and cornflour in a large pot/saucepan. Gradually whisk the milk in until smooth.
2) Put the saucepan on over a low-medium heat, stirring frequently. Once it starts to properly heat up, you will need to stir almost constantly to prevent it forming a film on the bottom of the pan. Cook until the mixture thickens, and then remove from the heat and mix in the vanilla extract. [The mixture should thicken up in a rapid change, and it is ready when it coats the back of a wooden spoon and you can run a trail through it on the back of the spoon with your finger. I prefer mine less runny so I leave it on for a little longer than others might.]
3) Sieve the custard into a large bowl, and cover with clingwrap/saran wrap that has been pierced to let the steam out. The cling wrap should actually be resting on the surface of the custard. This will prevent it forming that unpleasant 'skin' as it cools. Once it's not super hot anymore, put it in the fridge to cool completely.
Adapted from Plateful
This is double the original recipe since just 1X makes barely enough for 3 shortbread layers, plus you need extra to crumb over the top. Double makes more than you need, but extra shortbread is never a bad thing, right? I love dipping shortbread into a glass of cold milk!
Ingredients (I use the weight measurements):
500g unsalted butter, room temperature
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup (160g) icing sugar
3 cup (450g) all-purpose flour
1 cup (150g) cornflour/cornstarch
1) Preheat oven to 160C or 325F. Line baking sheets with parchment paper.
2) Sift icing sugar into a mixing bowl, and cream it with butter and vanilla using a mixer, until it turns a light yellow.
3) Sift flour and cornflour into another bowl, and gradually mix into the mixture from Step 2 with a wooden or slotted spoon instead of the mixer. The mixture should be quite 'short' that is, it feels almost dry and takes some effort to come together; if it's wet enough that it sticks onto your fingers, dust with more flour until you can handle the dough without it coating your hands.
4) Roll into 3 or 4 logs, and wrap individually with clingwrap. Refrigerate for 30 minutes, or freeze for about 5-10, until stiffer but not too hard to cut.
5) Slice rounds off the logs about 1/3 of an inch thick, and bake on the lined baking sheets for 10-12 minutes, until the edges are just starting to brown. The cooking time may differ depending on how hot your oven runs, so keep an eye on them.
6) Let cool on the sheets for a few minutes before transferring onto a wire rack to cool completely. If you try to transfer them straight out of the oven they may be too fragile and will crumble.
To assemble pudding
1) Once custard is completely cooled, slice 4-5 large, very ripe bananas (depending on how thick you want to slice them and how much you like bananas; I had to use a whole bunch of small bananas). The bananas should be the type that smells deliciously pungent when ripe. If it doesn't smell very 'banana'-y, the scent may not penetrate into the custard.
2) In whatever container or glasses you want to serve the custard in, layer slices of banana, then vanilla wafers/shortbread, custard, and repeat until finally the custard covers the top (i.e. the custard should form the top layer). Because I often transport this dessert, I usually put it in one big container that will be scooped from rather than in individual dessert bowls/glasses.
3) Cover with clingwrap or the container's lid, and refrigerate at least overnight before serving. I like it best after 2 nights because then the shortbread has really softened from absorbing moisture from the custard, and the banana flavour and scent is strong through the whole dessert. Finally, you could crumble some of the 'leftover' (there's no real such thing as a leftover homemade cookie, is there??) shortbread over the custard for an extra crunch.
Enjoy! :D Note: You can replace the banana with other fruit like slices of fresh or canned mango, peaches, apricot, and once I even tried homemade apple chips, but banana is the best because I find the flavour of the other fruit doesn't really penetrate as much as the banana does.