If you’re a New Yorker or a tourist, chances are you’ve heard of Magnolia Bakery. While they’re certainly more famous for their cupcakes I personally feel that their banana pudding is the one item worth getting. *coughdrycupcakescough*
Super rich, super creamy, and flavored with layers of fresh, sliced bananas and cakey vanilla cookies. It’s decadent and, oh, so yummy. Definitely worth the occasional splurge.
But why splurge when you can make it yourself anytime?
The following recipe comes from The Magnolia Bakery Cookbook and More from Magnolia.
1 (14 oz) can sweetened condensed milk
1.5 cups ice cold water
1 (3.4 oz) package instant vanilla pudding mix (preferably Jell-O brand)
3 cups heavy cream
1 (12 oz) box Nabisco Nilla Wafters (no substitutions!)
4 cups sliced ripe bananas
In a small bowl, on the medium speed of an electric mixer, beat together the sweetened condensed milk and water until well combined, about 1 minute. Add the pudding mix and beat well, about 2 minutes more. Cover and refrigerate for 3-4 hours or overnight, before continuing. It is very important to allow the proper amount of time for the pudding mixture to set.
In a large bowl, on the medium speed of an electric mixer, whip the heavy cream until stiff peaks form. Gently fold the pudding mixture into the whipped cream until well blended and no streaks of pudding remain.
To assemble the dessert, select a large, wide bowl (preferably glass) with a 4-5-quart capacity. Arrange one-third of the wafers to cover the bottom of the bowl, overlapping if necessary, then one-third of the bananas and one-third of the pudding. Repeat the layering twice more, garnishing with additional wafers or wafer crumbs on the top layer of the pudding. Cover tightly with plastic wrap and allow to chill in the refrigerator for 4 hours-or up to 8 hours, but no longer!-before serving.
Although I’m skeptical that Magnolia Bakery uses Nilla wafers and instant pudding at their establishment, I can’t argue with results. The recipe from the books tastes like the banana pudding I get from their bake shop. It’s gooooood!
As I mentioned in a recent banana bread blog entry, my grocery store tends to sell ripe fruits and veg by the bagful for only $1. The recipe recommends the use of Jell-O and Nilla wafer but I say pfft to that. I tried the recipe at first using the name brands and later on tried it with the store-brands and, honestly, I couldn’t tell a difference. Using Nilla wafers might have made a difference back in the day but I’ve heard those cookies don’t even contain real vanilla anymore; nowadays they’re artifically flavored, so I don’t see the point in spending more just for the name. Go to Walmart, Target or the Dollar Tree; they sell vanilla wafer cookies by the box or bag for only $1 and work perfectly in this banana pudding recipe. As for the pudding, any store-brand vanilla pudding will do but just make sure it’s instant pudding. Using instant pudding will save you a lot of time and effort because you won’t need to cook and stir the pudding on the stove-top and wait as long for it to cool.
The recipe calls for a trifle dish which I don’t own. I had to use what I have, and I ended up filling two big casserole dishes with pudding. Aesthetically, it didn’t look as good but it still tasted great.
I know it’s tempting to dig right in after you’ve made the pudding but, trust me, it tastes better the next day. The moisture from the cream/pudding moistens the cookies and changes the texture from crunchy into something that resembles a soft vanilla cake. And overnight the sliced bananas infuse the pudding with their flavor. The end result is awesomely delicious and decadent.
Everything in this recipe can be purchased cheaply and it makes a ton, so it’s very economical and beats trekking out to NYC when you have a case of the munchies. It’s one of my favorite dessert recipes, it’s really easy to make, and it’s always a crowd pleaser. You really can’t ask for more than that 😀