The Tastiest Way to Save a Banana

We've all done it. We've bought that bunch of bananas in the store and then let them sit just a day or two longer than we intended before eating. I love bananas, but in my opinion, there is really only a few good days in the life of a banana at it's perfect ripeness, and then it's destined for a smoothie or some kind of baked good. Bread or muffins are perfectly good solutions for that super ripe banana situation, but to be honest, I think of banana pudding first. Because hello, I'm a southern girl and I was raised on banana pudding!

I don't mean the "cut corners and use a boxed pudding" recipe either. Good old fashioned cooked custard, layered between bananas and Nilla wafers is as easy and almost as quick as the other stuff. And it's a million times better, so let's do it that way, ok?

I have the cutest little sous chef helping me with this recipe and even if you aren't a pudding fan, you should scroll through just to see pictures of her! I love inviting kids into my kitchen and I've never met one yet that didn't enjoy cooking and being a part of creating delicious food. This recipe was perfect for Margeaux to practice cutting skills with her own "child friendly" knife.

Here's how this all comes together.

In a saucepan, whisk together sugar, flour and salt.

Stir in one whole egg and three egg yolks.

To this mixture, gradually stir in milk and cook uncovered, stirring often, until the mixture thickens. It will take about ten minutes and should be thick enough to coat the back of a wooden spoon, like this.

Remove from heat and add vanilla and butter.

Stir and let cool a little. Now you're ready to assemble.

Cut bananas. This pudding has "chunky" style bananas and it's ok!

Spread a layer of that yummy custard on the bottom of your dish, followed by a layer of bananas and Nilla wafers. You can use other brands of wafers, but I don't recommend it. Nilla's are the best!

Now you have to decide whether you are going to do a meringue topping or use freshly whipped cream for the crowning glory. Either one is delicious, but I usually opt for meringue so I can use those egg whites that were left over from making the custard. Waste not, want not. Before I turned the mixer on, we had a talk about keeping our hands on the handle while beating these egg whites and I had my hand on top of hers just as a precaution. Safety is important in the kitchen, especially when working with little ones. But they can do it! Give them a chance.

Stiff peaks. It's ready.

Spread the meringue over the top of the pudding.

Bake at 425 degrees just until browned on top. Keep your eye on it, this happens quickly. Eat while warm and be grateful that you just transformed those overripe banana into a thing of perfection! Yum!

Homemade Banana Pudding

( Or the Best Way to Use An Overripe Banana)

4 large eggs

1 cup sugar, divided

3 T. plain flour

1/2 t. salt

2 cups whole milk

1/2 t. vanilla extract

4 T. butter

30 - 40 vanilla wafers

3 - 4 medium ripe bananas

Separate the yolks from the whites of 3 eggs, set aside the whites for making meringue. Add the remaining whole egg to the yolks.

In a saucepan, whisk together 3/4 cup sugar, the flour and salt. Stir in the whole egg and 3 yolks. Gradually stir in milk. Cook uncovered, stirring often, until the mixture thickens, and coats the back of a wooden spoon, about 10 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in the vanilla and butter. Stir until butter is melted.

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

Spread a layer of pudding in a baking dish. Arrange layers of vanilla wafers and banana slices. Add another layer of pudding, wafers and bananas, ending with pudding.

To make the meringue, beat the reserved egg whites with a pinch of salt until they are stiff. Gradually beat in the remaining 1/4 cup of sugar.

Spread the meringue over the pudding and bake until lightly browned, about 5 minutes.

* Photo Credit: Rebecca Wray

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