‘nilla wafer puddin’: so good, it’s scaryOctober 30, 2008
It isn’t right to torment your husband.
I know this, and yet, when it comes to Banana & Vanilla Wafer Pudding (‘nilla wafer puddin’ for short), I can’t help myself. It’s just so good.
Yes, my husband has had months of professional French-style culinary training. Yes, he can braise, glaze and flam-baze with the best of them. But when it comes to old-fashioned, stick-to-your-ribs, lick the spoon, go for third-helpings kind of deliciousness, this clip-from-the-back-of-the-box recipe still takes the cake (er, pudding).
It is a crowd pleaser. Everybody loves it. Everybody comments on it. Everybody wants the recipe. Everybody goes back for seconds, and thirds, and fourths, until finally you come upon a guest surreptitiously running his finger along the rim of the empty bowl and making satisfied sucking sounds until said bowl is forcibly removed from his hands.
It’s that good, people.
Now my husband grumps, and moans, and bellyaches about that “darn ‘nilla wafer puddin.” But he makes it, and then begrudgingly laps up the accompanying praise and glory.
But let’s be honest. I do the work here, people. I am the one who flatters, badgers and goads until the husband ponies up the delicious homemade vanilla pudding. And then I am the one who lovingly assembles the whole concoction into a thing of beauty. Yes, I — the wife — make the whip cream, cut up the bananas and lovingly stack the Nilla wafers into a towering trifle of dessert deliciousness.
That’s right: Don’t believe the husband, he’s not the ‘nilla wafer puddin’ martyr he’d have you believe.
But you can believe one thing: This Banana & Vanilla Wafer Pudding is really that good. It’s totally worth tormenting your husband for. Enjoy it! And Happy Halloween!
And now, the husband’s take…
I hate this recipe. No, actually, I don’t really HATE this recipe. It’s just that I don’t get it. I think it’s a good recipe. I really like what it makes. But… well… despite culinary school, despite all the cool techniques, despite my growing knowledge of food, this very simple recipe is the one I’m asked for the most.
I get emails from family members saying, “I’ve looked everywhere on the blog, but can’t find it.” I get calls asking for it. My wife even has a slightly obnoxious chant she does when she wants me to make it, and I’m quite certain my 19 month old is going to start joining her any day now. I’m pretty much obligated to make this for every family gathering or to bring it to any social gathering where you are expected to provide a dish. Because of this demand, I’m putting it up to share.
Finally, I appreciate this recipe is most associated with summer and childhood. But, honestly, its perfect for tomorrow if you are having a party. This recipe can easily serve 12 very hungry folks and I suspect even more of the smaller guys. It keeps well if you refrigerate it. It’s actually better if you make it the day before as the flavors of the banana spread around and the cookies absorb the liquid and get a more cake-like consistency. So, Happy Halloween and enjoy! Just don’t ask me for the recipe later.
Banana & Vanilla Wafer Pudding
1/2 box Nilla wafers
Vanilla pudding (recipe below)
1 pint heavy cream
1/4 cup sugar
2 tsp. vanilla
1/4 tsp. salt
1. Make and cool the pudding according to the directions below.
2. Just before starting construction, use a mixer (preferably hand or stand) and whip together the heavy cream, vanilla, salt and sugar until you see stiff peaks. Set aside. (How do you know when you’ve achieved stiff peaks? When you can turn the whisk upside down and the peak of mount whipped cream stays pointy.)
3. Slice the bananas about a quarter inch thick.
4. Layer the dish as follows: Pudding, wafers, whip cream, bananas.
5. This is best done the day before serving, but is still good if made several hours before serving. The goal is to have the pudding — with all its fat — pick up the flavors from the banana, and for the wafers to soften when sandwiched between the liquids.
6. Refrigerate when done. Serve cold.
6 cups milk
3/4 cup corn starch
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 egg yolks
1 tbsp. vanilla extract
1/2 tsp. salt
1. Take 1 cup of milk and add to the starch. Whisk until dissolved. It should have the consistency of heavy cream. Set aside.
2. Combine the remaining milk, salt and sugar and bring to a simmer over medium high heat.
Note: You can use a whole vanilla bean. If you wish to use one, slice in half and scrape out the seeds. Add the seeds and the bean now while warming. Also, remember this is milk boiling, do not walk away from it. It will overflow and cause a mess if left unwatched.
3. Turn heat to medium. While whisking consistently, add the slurry of milk and corn starch.
4. Temper the egg yolks. Do this by ladling in some of the hot liquid into a bowl containing the egg yolks while constantly whisking. This will slowly warm the yolks and prevent them from curdling when you add them to the hot liquid. Add the tempered egg yolks to the milk mixture.
5. Continue to whisk regularly while the mixture begins to heat up. It should start to thicken as it approaches a boil.
6. Once thick, pour into a second container and cool. You can place this in the fridge and let cool for a couple hours. Or you can set up an ice bath by placing a bowl inside another bowl of equal parts ice and water, then whisk the pudding until cool. Add the vanilla extract once it’s no longer hot.
Note: If using a vanilla bean, remove the bean’s shell at this point.
7. Refrigerate until ready to use. If the pudding is stiff when you remove it from the refrigerator, simply whip it for about 30 seconds with a hand or stand mixer. It should smooth out quickly, and be easy to pour.