Friday, September 26, 2014

Adventures in Cooking: "Yes We Have No Banana Pudding"

I am not a cook. 
I have little experience doing any form of cooking. I wasn't raised to help cook, really. Over the past couple of years, I've started to experiment a little bit, putting together pasta or broccoli salads for potlucks, and receive pretty good feedback (other than one time that I got my pasta a little too al dente), but overall, actual cooking isn't really something I feel passionate about.

Something I have discovered I really like, though, is baking. Or doing desserts. I think I like it because it's more exact, with little wiggle room. I don't have to figure out a dash of this or a pinch of that- it's cups and ounces, and tablespoons and teaspoons. 

My Father-In-Law and Step Mother-In-Law were coming over for a BBQ, and I decided I wanted to make a dessert. My husband is a huge Alton Brown fan, and recently they re-aired his Good Eats episode "Yes We Have No Banana Pudding," in which he makes both a refrigerated and baked banana pudding. I decided to give the refrigerated a try. 

Refrigerated Banana Pudding (adapted from Alton Brown's recipe)
Total Time: 3 hr 10 min 
Prep: 30 min 
Inactive: 2 hr 30 min 
Cook: 10 min 
Yield: 8 to 10 servings 
Level: Easy 

3/4 cup granulated sugar, plus 2 tablespoons 
3 tablespoons cornstarch 
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt 
2 large eggs 
1 large egg yolk 
2 cups whole milk 
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into 6 pieces and chilled 
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract 
45 vanilla wafers 
4 ounces banana liqueur 
3 ripe bananas, peeled and sliced into 1/4-inch rounds 
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice 
1 cup heavy whipping cream, very cold 

Combine 3/4 cup of the sugar, the cornstarch and salt in a 3-quart saucier. Add the eggs and egg yolk and whisk to combine. Add the milk and whisk until well combined, about 30 seconds. Cook over medium-low heat, stirring constantly until the mixture reaches 172 to 180 degrees F, approximately 5 to 10 minutes. The mixture will begin to thicken and bubble around the edges. Remove from the heat and whisk in the butter, 1 piece at a time, being sure each piece is fully incorporated before adding the next. Whisk in the vanilla extractCover the surface of the pudding with a round piece of parchment and refrigerate until the pudding reaches 45 degrees F, approximately 2 hours. 
Lay the vanilla wafers on a half sheet pan. Slowly and evenly pour the banana liqueur over the cookies. Set aside for 10 minutes. 
Toss the banana slices with the lemon juice in a small bowl and set aside.  
Spread a small amount of pudding in the bottom of a 1 1/2-quart glass mixing bowl. Cover with a layer of vanilla wafers, followed by a layer of banana slices. Spoon 1/3 of the remaining pudding on top of the bananas and repeat, ending with a layer of pudding. 
Put the whipping cream in the bowl of a stand mixer, add the remaining 2 tablespoons of sugar and whisk just until stiff peaks form. Spoon the whipped creamover the cooled pudding and spread to cover completely. Top with any remaining soaked cookies. Refrigerate for 30 minutes before serving. Store, covered, in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.

I have a couple suggestions, especially if you have an electric range, I would suggest cooking on Medium or one notch above medium in order to get the same cooking time. I found this out when I had to remake mine, because it took over an hour on medium-low to get up to 172 degrees.
If it's not thickening up by the time you add the butter, it won't thicken. At least that was my experience. 

Not to toot my own horn, but everyone really loved this dish. Something about the sweetness of the pudding and the liqueur on the cookies really made it something special. 
However, next time I make this I will definitely be trying out Alton's Vanilla Wafers, because they might be a little drier than store bought, and therefore, won't absorb quite so much of the liqueur. Because a few of the cookies got absolutely soaked and a little soggy. 

Hopefully you all enjoyed this extra post this week! I'm definitely going to be trying out some new recipes and things and let you guys know how they go!

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