Is Banana Pudding Fattening? Not This One
Yes, Paula Deen's banana pudding is indulgent, fattening, and artery clogging. The one I'm offering you here isn't. Yes, it has calories. No, the calories are not evil. They come in the form of foods that are pretty good for you, as well as tasty--low-fat milk, eggs, and bananas. The pudding includes sugar, but it's a modest amount, not the superfluous amount Paula uses. Vanilla wafers feature prominently, but they aren't horrendously bad for you, and you can limit the amount you use, if you'd like. This is one of those desserts that sounds like it wouldn't be all that great, but it is. It's creamy, cool, rich with sweet bananas, and definitely a comfort food. My mom made a similar version, which I loved. I don't think Mom ever used a recipe for it. It wasn't like Paula Deen's. Mom's banana pudding, she always assured us, was really good for you. I took her at her word and ate copious amounts. Some of the time, Mom served the pudding warm, which sounds weird, but try it. Be warned, though, it can be addictive that way. The pudding also is great the traditional way--chilled, with the vanilla wafers softened beneath the weight of vanilla custard and sweet bananas. Oh, and, if you feel so inclined, you can always top the banana pudding with some whipped cream (Paula would approve, but not your waistline), low-fat whipped topping, or, if you'd like something more nutritious, low-fat vanilla yogurt.
Easy, "Good For You" Banana Pudding -- Serves 6+
2 3/4 cups of low-fat milk
1/2 cup of sugar
1/8 teaspoon of salt
1/4 cup of cornstarch
2 teaspoons of vanilla
1/3 - 1/2 bag of vanilla wafers
4 - 5 ripe bananas, sliced
Whipped cream, low-fat whipped topping, or vanilla yogurt (optional)
In a large saucepan, heat 2 1/2 cups of the milk, the sugar, and the salt over medium heat until simmering, stirring the mixture periodically. While the milk is heating, in a large bowl, whisk the cornstarch and remaining 1/4 cup of milk together until smooth. Whisk in the eggs until they're thoroughly blended into the cornstarch mixture. When the milk mixture is just beginning to simmer, turn off the heat. Using a ladle, add a small amount of the milk mixture into the cornstarch/egg mixture while whisking constantly. Continue to add ladles of the milk mixture gradually to the cornstarch/egg mixture while whisking until you've added about a third to half of the milk mixture. Pour the cornstarch/egg/milk mixture back into the saucepan and turn the heat back on to medium. Continue to whisk the mixture while it cooks for a few minutes more and thickens to a loose pudding consistency. Remove the pan from the heat and whisk in the vanilla. Let the pudding cool until it's warm, rather than hot. The pudding will thicken more as it cools. Pour half of the vanilla wafers into a large bowl or 2-quart casserole dish and spread them out evenly. Top the wafers evenly with half of the banana slices, then pour on half of the warm pudding and spread it out evenly. Add another layer of vanilla wafers on top of the warm pudding and spread the remaining banana slices evenly on top of the vanilla wafers. Spread the remaining pudding on top of the banana slices. Serve the pudding warm or let the pudding cool thoroughly and then refrigerate it until it's chilled before serving it, with or without whipped cream, whipped topping, or yogurt.