Food, for me, is more than just a recipe or list of ingredients. Food is a story, a memory or an emotion ... sometimes all three wrapped into an aroma or first bite.
Pudding is like that for me.
Pudding is my childhood and simple, sweet goodness. Though I never saw my parents make pudding from scratch, I wanted to tap into something older than myself. I do remember banana pudding parfaits with vanilla wafer cookies being offered for dessert, and I remember loving every bite. If not wolfing it down.
Growing up with all the Bill Cosby pudding commercials and busy working parents, it never dawned on me that you could make all this with just a few simple ingredients at home.
Since I am more of a "from scratch" kinda gal now, I wanted to do it all. Not just the pudding, which is simple enough with good fresh eggs and milk, but the cookies too. Both came with a shorter list of ingredients than their boxed counterparts and both were even better than I remember as a child.
Then I saw a discussion on Facebook whether people preferred one photo of the finished recipe or a whole collection of the process on blog posts. I was surprised to see that the consensus was for just one measly photo. I think that glosses over the best part of any story and jumps straight to the resolution. What is the fun in that?
I mean, isn't the journey part of this food's story?
Call me crazy, but I find simple beauty in each photo and step of a recipe. My favorite blogs make food look glamorous. Yes, even simple flour can look inviting. It is so simple. A building block of many great recipes, but awful to eat just on it's own.
My mixer, or my cooking partner in crime, really does most of the hard work for any good recipe I make. I just think it's beautiful. My Mom never had a stand mixer. I don't even think she has one to this day. She had a trusty old set of hand beaters. Everything else was made with elbow grease and a wooden spoon.
So, my pudding may be a throw-back to earlier times, housewives and aprons, but my tools are all modern. Still they are beautiful to me.
Either way, the food is it's own story, it's own star. I am creating new memories with my children who will grow up having fresh vanilla wafers from the oven and pudding still warm from the stove top. I hope a bite of pudding will take them back to cooking days like this.
If you haven't tried making your own pudding it is a real treat. It is lush and velvety as well as thick and rich. A custard ready for any natural flavoring you can think of. It begins with simple eggs, sugar, cornstarch and milk.
It does require a little patient love to stir as it thickens. Leave it too long and it can scorch on the bottom, or bits of egg can cook before the mixture heats through.
But, don't be intimidated! There is not much a good sieve can't help catch and the reward is amazing.
Butter gives it a nice gloss and velvety texture. I know, not a health food... but, desserts should be enjoyed and savored.
I added both vanilla and natural banana flavor to mine. Paired with real banana slices, it was over the moon!
Cover the top with parchment or wrap to keep it from forming a thick skin on the top as it cools in the refrigerator. Then eat by the spoonful or create your own delicious parfaits. I enjoyed scooping it up on the end of one of my vanilla wafer cookies. It didn't last long in our house.
So, that was my journey. That was a well spent afternoon and a delicious dessert that I will remember until the next time I get the itch for a good pudding. For me it was worth the effort and I am sure my family would agree with me.
And now my question is, did you enjoy this adventure? Do you really think it could have all been summed up with the top photo? Can a whole story be found within just a summary?
Retro Banana Pudding & Vanilla Wafer Cookies
inspired by Alton Brown from Good Eats
Vanilla Wafer Cookies
You Will Need:
- 7 oz. of AP flour
- 3/4 tsp. baking powder
- 1/2 tsp. salt
- 1/2 c. butter, unsalted, room temperature
- 3/2 oz. of sugar
- 1 egg
- 2 tsp. vanilla extract
- 2 tsp. almond extract
- 1 Tbsp. whole milk
Position the oven racks to the top 1/3 and bottom 1/3 of the oven. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
Sift together the flour, baking powder and salt in a medium bowl. In a stand mixer, cream the butter and sugar for 3 minutes. Then add the egg, scraping down the sides of the bowl. On low, add the extracts and milk till well mixed. Then chill the dough for 15 minutes for easy scooping.
Scoop a teaspoon of dough onto 2 parchment lined cookie sheets. Flatten each ball slightly with a glass. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes rotating the sheets halfway through the baking time. They should get a nice golden brown. Cool the cookies on the cookie sheet before removing. Once completely cooled, store in an airtight container.
You Will Need:
- 3/4 c. sugar
- 3 Tbsp. cornstarch
- 1/4 tsp. salt
- 2 large eggs
- 1 large egg yolk
- 2 c. whole milk
- 3 Tbsp. butter, unsalted, cut into cubes and chilled till ready to use
- 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
- 1/2 tsp. natural banana flavoring
In a medium saucepan combine the sugar, cornstarch and salt. Whisk in the eggs to combine and then add the milk. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly till the mixture begins to thicken and bubble. It will take about 10 minutes. Take care not to scorch the bottom, turn the heat down if it starts to cook too quickly. When thick, remove from the heat and whisk in the butter one piece at a time. Then stir in the extracts. If you are worried about small lumps of cooked egg, you can pass it through a fine sieve. Cover the pudding with wrap or parchment, carefully making sure the cover touches the entire top surface of the warm pudding. This will keep a skin from forming on the top. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours before building your parfait.
To build the parfait, slice a fresh banana and layer with cookies, pudding and banana slices as desired. Top with fresh whipped cream. My kids would suggest a few multi-colored sprinkles on top as well.