I don’t know how it happened, but I’ve developed a fondness (and following) for my versions of Southern American classics like fried chicken, biscuits and even banana cream pie. Indian food is all about layers of flavour, so I approach these foods with the same agenda. In my version of Banana Pudding, I layer bananas with an incredibly rich vanilla crème pâtissier, slightly salty caramel sauce, generous spoonfuls of whipped cream, and Nilla wafers (or Marie biscuits) to create a trifle-like dessert that promises to get even the most Southern of Southerners drooling. I keep the caramel on the soft side, so that even after being refrigerated, it retains a somewhat saucy quality. Use the freshest eggs you can find for the pudding.
For Vanilla Pudding
- 3 large eggs
- 150 gm sugar
- 360 ml milk
- 360 ml heavy/double cream
- 2 tsp vanilla paste or extract
- 1/8 tsp sea salt
- 115 gm unsalted butter
- 175 ml heavy/double cream
- 1 tbsp lemon juice
- 3/4 tsp sea salt
For Whipped cream
- 360 ml heavy/double cream
- 100 gm superfine sugar
- 1.25 tsp vanilla paste or extract (or 1/3 vanilla bean/pod)
- 5 bananas
- 4 cups vanilla wafers or Marie biscuits
- Whisk the eggs with the vanilla in a large bowl and set aside.
- Bring the milk, heavy/double cream, sugar, and salt to a simmer in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Turn off the heat and whisk a little of the hot liquid into the egg mixture.
- Continue adding more hot milk until the eggs are tempered and the bottom of the bowl is warm to the touch, and then return the egg mixture back to the saucepan with the remaining milk.
- Turn the heat to medium-high and cook for about 5 minutes, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon or whisk, until the pudding thickens and you can draw a clear line through the custard on the back of a spoon. Don’t let the custard boil – this will cause the eggs to curdle.
- Pour the custard through a medium sieve and into a medium bowl.
- Whisk to cool slightly, cover flush with cling film, and refrigerate for 2 hours until it is completely cool.
For Caramel Sauce
- Microwave the butter with heavy/double cream and salt together until the butter is melted (you can also do this on a small saucepan). Whisk to combine and set aside.
- Place the sugar and lemon juice in a medium saucepan. Melt the sugar over medium-high heat for 10-12 minutes, swirling the pan occasionally to evenly distribute the heat, until the sugar is a deep nutty brown and smells bittersweet.
- Pour in the melted butter-milk mixture (be careful – the sauce will hiss and bubble up) and turn the stove back to medium-high heat to return the contents to a boil. Turn off the heat and set the saucepan aside for 1 to 2 hours to cool the caramel to room temperature.
For Whipped Cream
- Place the cream, sugar, and vanilla paste or extract (if using a vanilla bean/pod, split the pod and scrape out the seeds, adding them to the cream. Save the pod and place it in a jar of sugar to infuse it) in the bowl of a stand mixer and whip it on medium speed until it is frothy. Increase the speed to medium-high and whip until you get stiff peaks.
- Refrigerate until you’re ready to assemble the pudding.
- When you’re ready to make the pudding, peel and thinly slice the bananas and set aside.
- Evenly spread 1 cup whipped cream over the bottom of a large trifle dish or punch bowl.
- Top with a layer of bananas and 1 cup vanilla pudding.
- Place about 20 wafers in a flat layer on top of the pudding and evenly drizzle 120 ml caramel over the wafers.
- Repeat the layering process three times, beginning with the whipped cream followed by some sliced bananas, vanilla pudding, wafers and caramel.
- Finish the pudding with a final layer of whipped cream (you should have about 1 cup remaining after repeating 4 layers), cover with cling film, and refrigerate for at least 6 hours or overnight. Serve in dessert bowls.