Classic Dessert Evokes Comforts Of Home

The holiday season is right around the corner, and that means cooking and baking to accommodate home entertaining and gifting is about to pick up. It is customary to bring a host or hostess gift when visiting a friend or loved one, and a dessert that appeals to all ages can certainly fit the bill. Even though cakes and cookies may be the norm, people may want to think outside the box for something unique, but equally tasty.

Banana pudding often wins rave reviews. Anyone who loves the sweet taste of bananas, the creaminess of rich pudding and the crunch of vanilla wafers will enjoy digging into this classic treat. While many vanilla pudding recipes are topped with whipped cream, this version, courtesy of Trisha Yearwood and the Food Network, changes things up with a meringue topping for added flair.

Banana Pudding
8 servings

4 large eggs
3⁄4 cup sugar
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1⁄2 teaspoon plus a pinch salt
2 cups whole milk
1⁄2 teaspoon vanilla extract
30 to 40 vanilla wafers

1. Separate the yolks from the whites of three of the eggs; set aside the whites. Add the remaining whole egg to the yolks.

2. In a saucepan, whisk together 1⁄2 cup sugar, the flour and 1⁄2 teaspoon salt. Stir in the whole egg and three yolks, and then stir in the milk. Cook uncovered, stirring often, until the mixture thickens, about 10 minutes. Remove from the heat and stir in the vanilla.

3. Preheat the oven to 425 F.

4. Spread a thin layer of the pudding in a 11⁄2 quart casserole dish. Arrange a layer of vanilla wafers on top of the pudding. Thinly slice the bananas crosswise, about 1⁄8 inch thick, and arrange a layer of banana slices over the wafers. Spread one-third of the remaining pudding over the bananas and continue layering wafers, bananas and pudding, ending with pudding.

5. To make the meringue, beat the reserved egg whites with a pinch of salt until they are stiff. Gradually beat in the remaining 1⁄4 cup sugar and continue beating until the whites will not slide out of the mixing bowl when it is tilted.

6. Spread the meringue over the pudding with a spatula, making a few decorative peaks on top, and bake until the meringue is lightly browned, 5 minutes.

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