Monday, November 1, 2010

Banana Pudding

Winner of both the James Beard Award for American Cooking and the Southern Independent Booksellers Award, gifted chef and storyteller Martha Hall Foose is well deserving. A Mississippi Delta cook who studied in France she is the author of one of my favorite cookbooks of the year in Screen Doors and Sweet Tea. A delightful collection of sumptuous recipes and southern charm, she writes reverently of her family and growing up in the Mississippi delta, juxtaposing these stories, tips, and asides with mouthwatering recipes that want to make you head to the kitchen immediately, which is precisely what I did!

Screen Doors and Sweet Tea: Recipes and Tales from a Southern CookThe only recipe for which I had every ingredient was the Banana Pudding, and since I'd last had banana pudding as a child, I figured making it was long overdue. According to the book, Foose "...made this meringue-topped banana pudding for Oprah and her best friend, Gayle. Gayle like[d] hers warm...and she ate two helpings. The demure Miss Winfrey had a single serving."

What makes this recipe so much fun is that it is made in individual containers, namely small Mason jars. Each pudding is topped with meringue, and while I'm no expert, my meringues came out just beautifully. The pudding is rich and creamy, redolent of banana, and loaded with comfort in the form of vanilla wafers. It's but one of the many recipes I intend to share with you in this blog. This is the easiest, so I thought I'd start here.

(Much to my delight, I recently learned that Foose has another book coming out, A Southerly Course: Recipes and Stories from Close to Home. This title will be released on April 12, 2011. I can't wait!)

from Screen Doors and Sweet Tea by Martha Hall Foose

For the pudding:

3/4 cup sugar
1/3 cup cake flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
4 large egg yolks
2 cups whole milk
1/2 vanilla bean split or 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
Freshly grated nutmeg
1/2-inch piece of cinnamon stick
Quality vanilla wafer cookies
4 medium bananas, peeled and sliced

For the topping:
4 large egg whites
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
5 tablespoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

For the pudding:

In a heavy-bottomed saucepan over medium heat, bring 2 inches of water to a boil. In a large stainless steel bowl, whisk together the sugar, flour, and salt. Whisk in the egg yolks, and then the milk, vanilla bean, nutmeg, and cinnamon. Place the bowl over the pan of water and cook, stirring until the mixture is thick and coats the back of a spoon, 12 to 15 minutes. Remove from the heat. Remove the cinnamon and vanilla bean. If using vanilla extract, stir it in now.

While the pudding is still warm, layer the cookies, bananas, and pudding in 1/2-pint canning jars or ramekins.

Preheat the oven to 425°F.

For the topping:

Whip the egg whites in an electric mixer on medium speed until frothy. Add the cream of tartar and slowly increase the speed as the egg whites become opaque. Add the sugar 1 tablespoon at a time. Add the vanilla extract. Whip until the whites form a soft peak. Spoon the meringue over the warm puddings, sealing it to the sides of the jars.

Bake the puddings for 4 minutes, or until the meringue is puffed and brown. Cool on a rack for 20 minutes, and then refrigerate for 2 hours, or until you can’t stand it anymore.

Makes 8 servings


Jenny @ Simcoe Street said...

Presentation is everything - - this food LOOKS amazing!!!
Great recipes :)


shannon i olson said...

oh nothin' like Southern banana puddin' mmmmmmmm delightfully fun!

Donna said...

Oooh! This looks so yummy! I never knew banana pudding could look so cute! Love it in the mini Mason jars:)

Anonymous said...

I love banana pudding but have never had it with meringue before, just whipped cream. Your meringues are GORGEOUS!!! I have a problem with meringue for some reason. These look srumptious!