Banana Pudding

This recipe for banana pudding, included in Mrs. Rowe's Restaurant Cookbook (Ten Speed Press, 2006) by Mollie Cox Bryan, came from Vivian Obie. She worked at the restaurant for nearly 40 years preparing many of its long-standing menu items, among them this pudding and the coconut cream pie—the two most ordered desserts.

Banana Pudding
This rich, creamy pudding is a most delicious example of a true comfort food.
Yield: serves 6-8

Ingredients

  • 4 cups milk
  • 3⁄4 cups plus 3 tbsp. sugar
  • 1⁄4 cups cornstarch
  • 4 eggs, separated
  • 4 tsp. unsalted butter
  • 2 tsp. pure vanilla extract
  • 1 12 oz. box vanilla wafers
  • 3–4 firm bananas
  • 1⁄4 tsp. cream of tartar

Instructions

  1. Heat milk in top of a double boiler set over simmering water. In a small bowl, whisk together 3⁄4 cup of the sugar, cornstarch, egg yolks, and enough water to make a soupy paste (about 1⁄4 cup). Whisk egg yolk mixture into milk. Cook, stirring constantly, until thickened to the consistency of pudding, 30–40 minutes. Remove from heat; stir in butter and vanilla. Let cool slightly.
  2. Preheat the oven to 325°. Cover bottom of a 9" × 13" baking dish with half the vanilla wafers. Slice the bananas into 1⁄2"-thick rounds and spread half of them over wafers. Cover bananas with half the pudding. Spread remaining wafers over pudding, followed by remaining bananas. Pour rest of the pudding over top.
  3. Place egg whites and cream of tartar in a chilled metal bowl. Using an electric mixer on slow to medium speed, beat until soft peaks form. Add remaining 3 tbsp. sugar 1 tbsp. at a time and continue to beat until stiff but not dry peaks form to make a meringue. Spread meringue over pudding and bake until lightly browned, 20–30 minutes. Serve warm, at room temperature, or chilled.