From the kitchen of One Perfect Bite...I saw a glow worm tonight, my first sighting of the year, and for a minute, a split second really, I was again six and on the hunt for the first firefly of summer. A certain cachet was attached to that first capture, and as soon as school ended, mason jars with punctured lids were set aside for the nightly search for Tinkerbell and members of her crew. The ragamuffins with whom I ran took the hunt seriously, and night after night, with not even a flicker of ennui, we swarmed alleyways and backyards, jars in hand, looking for Peter's accomplice and her friends. When the streetlight's came on, the rules of the game demanded the fireflies be released, lest we actually had Tinkerbell in one of those jars. We all were very young, easily amused and it was a much simpler time. Meals were uncomplicated and the handful of desserts that we were regularly served included a pudding quite similar to the one I'm featuring tonight. I haven't had banana pudding in years, but when I saw this version in Bon Appetit magazine, I knew I had to give it a try. I'm so glad I did. The Silver Fox has a demanding sweet tooth and he loved the pudding and the memories it brought back for him. If you are looking for a nostalgic dessert for your next barbecue, do give this one a try. I suggest you make the pudding, sans the meringue, a full day before you plan to serve it. This will give the banana flavor a chance to permeate the pudding. However, I suggest browning the meringue just before the pudding is served. Here is how it is made.
Banana Meringue Pudding...from the kitchen of One Perfect Bite courtesy of Bon Appetit magazine
4 large eggs
2/3 cup sugar
1/4 cup cornstarch
4 cups whole milk
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
Pinch of kosher salt
1 (11-ounce) box vanilla wafer cookies
3 ripe bananas, thinly sliced
4 large egg whites
1/2 cup sugar
1) To make pudding: Lightly whisk eggs in a large bowl just to blend. Whisk sugar and cornstarch in a medium saucepan. Gradually whisk milk into sugar mixture and heat over medium heat, whisking often, until very warm to the touch. Gradually whisk half of hot milk mixture into eggs, then whisk egg mixture back into milk mixture in saucepan. Cook, whisking constantly, until thickened and whisk leaves a trail in pudding (it should be the consistency of mayonnaise), about 4 minutes. Remove from heat, add butter, vanilla, and salt and whisk until butter is melted and mixture is smooth. Strain pudding through a fine-mesh sieve into another large bowl. Cover pudding with plastic wrap, pressing directly onto the surface. Chill until cool, about 2 hours.
2) To complete pudding: Spread one-third of pudding evenly in a 2-qt. baking dish. Top with half of cookies and half of bananas. Repeat layers one more time and top with remaining third of pudding. Cover and chill at least 4 hours. Just before serving, heat broiler. Using an electric mixer on medium speed, beat egg whites until foamy. With motor running, gradually add sugar. Increase speed to medium-high and beat until stiff peaks form. Spoon meringue over pudding and swirl decoratively. Broil until meringue is dark brown in spots, about 1 minute. Yield: 8 to 10 servings.
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