going bananas

My seventh grade social studies teacher once said that baklava was the food of the gods. And I don’t know whether it was the intense fuchsia of her nails as she waved her hands around for emphasis or the faraway look in her eyes, but that sentiment ended up sticking with me—until I actually tried baklava. I’ll admit, there is an undeniable beauty in the delicate art of assembling the pastry, but I ended up with a raging sugar headache the first time I tried it. Perhaps, as a part of this whole blogging/risk-taking situation, I’ll give it another try. But for now, here is the food of the lazy, ain’t-got-no-time-for-phyllo, to-heck-with-calories gods.

So, I’ve never been the biggest fan of bananas. They are soft and gushy, brown over time, and sometimes are just a pain to get that first puncture through before the peeling. (Am I the only one? Okay.) However, if the nutritionist angel on your shoulder is calling for you to get a good dose of potassium and the self-indulgent devil on the other side is nudging you toward the tub of vanilla pudding in your fridge (because everyone has that…), you can toss this recipe into their little hands (and watch it float to the ground because they’re an angel and devil, for goodness’ sake) because here’s the perfect compromise: banana pudding. Well, it’s preetty perfect, bordering just a little more on the indulgent side, so stagger these servings in appropriate intervals. (I’ll let your shoulder’s angel figure that out for you.)

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Yep, take a good look at that, while all that’s left of my health-conscious self wilts away for the rest of this post. Condensed milk, vanilla pudding mix, Nilla Wafers, heavy whipping cream… I banished away my cringy side for this because, sometimes, life just calls for that little cup of occasional unapologetic goodness, right?  I mean, there is always the option to lessen the amount of the condensed milk so the actual pudding part isn’t so sweet. That counts for something, right? *insert single sweat emoji*

Now, how on earth did this recipe wander into my household without alerting my mom’s ever-wandering eye and the broccoli security guards she has stationed by all points of entry, you ask? (Oreos very rarely even make it into the shopping cart.) Well, funnily enough, she had tried it at a friend’s party and, entranced by the ‘nana goodness, asked the host to forward the recipe to me. Needless to say, I was bowled over in surprise when I opened that email and viewed its contents, specifically the ingredient list. Still in shock, I then proceeded to zombie-walk toward my printer to collect the recipe. Whatever was happening to my world I was not complaining about.

So naturally, by the time we made it to the supermarket and my mother had finally seen the collection of banana pudding goodies in the cart, it was too late; I was far too emotionally involved and curious about the final outcome to be forced to quit. (I think her pudding deja vu was too good for her to deny the prospect of a tasty round two anyway.)

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The recipe, though simple, is probably patience’s worst enemy. Once the pudding mixture is in the fridge, it’s basically a long stretch of waiting until anything else can happen. Cut the bananas? No, they’ll oxidize. Whip the cream? Welp, won’t want to risk it deflating over the course of at least three hours. You can bet I had a timer counting down those three hours. The urge to open the fridge every twenty minutes to jiggle the pudding and obsessively check that I hadn’t forgotten to start the timer was very much present. —What? I was basically working against the sunset and hoping my lighting would stay consistent for the most part… (That’s my alternate defense for my impatience. Just go with it.)

Thankfully, this recurring scrambling-before-the-sun-sets issue will hopefully soon be resolved, as my lights have finally arrived in the mail. They’ll definitely need some experimenting with, but the goal is that y’all won’t be able to tell whether I’m cooking in daylight or in the dark of night…Nothing like my mom returning from her trip to two gigantic umbrella lights…Ha ha ha ha.

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Much love for the banana that decided it didn’t want to stay whole while I was peeling it.

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I’d say this build-a-pudding assembly line pretty much blows out all those crazy Industrial Revolution ones out of the park in terms of yumminess. Nilla, ‘nana, pudding, r-r-repeat. Nananaaaa…

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Banana Pudding (Courtesy of Lily. Hi, Lily!)

INGREDIENTS: (makes approximately 12-14 servings in small/medium cups)

  • 1 1/2 cups of ice cold water
  • 1 can sweetened condensed milk
  • 1 package Jello instant vanilla pudding
  • 3 cups heavy whipping cream
  • ~5 ripe bananas
  • 1 box of Nilla wafers

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Whisk sweetened condensed milk into water until fully blended.
  2. Sprinkle in the instant vanilla pudding mix while whisking to avoid clumps and continue until mixture is fully incorporated.
  3. Set this aside in the fridge overnight or 3 hours (as I did, if the patience is running low.) Continue onto step 4 whenever the pudding is finished chilling.
  4. Slice the bananas into slices, as thinly or thickly as you prefer! (I opted with a Goldilocks right in the middle situation.) I also recommend slicing more on a diagonal so the slice can cover more surface area.
  5. Cover with plastic wrap so they don’t oxidize and turn funky colors!
  6. Pour the whipping cream into a bowl and whip until stiff peaks form. (Careful not to over-whip!)
  7. Remove the pudding from the fridge, tip it into the whipping cream, and gently fold until fully incorporated with no more pudding streaks. (Don’t stir like crazy and knock all the fluffy air out!)
  8. Assembly time! Arrange your pudding into your serving container (cups, mason jars, or a baking dish family-style) in the following order: Nilla wafers, bananas, pudding/cream mixture.
  9. Ta-da! All done. Enjoy! â˜ș

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2 thoughts on “going bananas”

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