Monday, May 20, 2013

Banana Pudding

Photo by M Kasahara
Banana pudding is one of my favorite Southern desserts, and I won't lie: The higher the milk fat used in the recipe, the richer and better tasting the pudding is. Cream makes a heavenly banana pudding, but in the interest of staying healthy and slender, I make a few concessions. I try to retrain my tastesbuds to like lighter versions of the most decadent sweets. Most of the time, here is how I eat banana pudding:

Banana Pudding



Ingredients:

3 eggs, separated
1/3 cup sugar, plus 2 tablespoons of vanilla sugar (if you have it)
3 tablespoons flour
Dash of salt
4 cups milk
2 teaspoons vanilla
Cinnamon graham crackers (or the traditional Vanilla Wafers. I have also used ginger cookies)
3-4 ripe bananas

Directions: 

1. Beat the egg yolks and sugar together. I use an electric hand mixer and beat it right in a large saucepan, so I have one less bowl to wash. (Yes, I am THAT lazy!)
2. Save the egg whites in a separate mixing bowl for later.
3. Add the flour, cornstarch, salt and milk to the saucepan and beat smooth.
4. Heat this mixture on the stovetop, stirring until it thickens into a custard. I use a wooden spoon.
5. Turn off the flame and add the vanilla. Let cool.
6. Next pour a little of the custard onto the bottom of a deep baking dish.
7. Layer with the graham crackers (or vanilla wafers), then top with slices of bananas.
8. Keep layering. Alternate: custard, graham crackers, banana slices.
9. Using an electric mixer, beat the egg whites with about 2 tablespoons of vanilla sugar into a meringue and spread it on top of the banana pudding.
10. Bake at 400 degrees F for about 10 minutes. Watch closely. When the meringue is slightly brown and the pudding is bubbling, remove from the oven. Eat warm or cold.

Even if you're a healthy eater, I can't see totally depriving yourself of treats. Graham crackers contain less sugar than vanilla wafers, but are equally delicious. You can also use 1% milk to make banana pudding, and it will be tasty. But for special ocassions, use whole milk and cream. As long as you eat fattening food the way your grandparents did -- a serving for dinner on Sundays -- you can indulge.

THE SAVVY SHOPPER features food as one of its topics because it's a central focus of our lives. We spend a huge amount of our disposable income (money after taxes) on food. Gathering, preparing and serving meals takes up lots of our time too. You can forgo buying a pair of shoes, but as my mother notes, "You have to eat every day!" So if you know how to cook, you can save a bundle, entertain on a budget and most of all, eat well. Bon appétit!

You may also enjoy:
The Health Benefits Of Tea
Remembering Patsy Cline 9/8/32 - 3/5/63  
Homemade Vanilla Extract
Savor The Salt Of The Earth

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