Southern Banana is the ultimate comfort food and most definitely the queen of Southern desserts. A rich homemade vanilla custard is layered with delicious vanilla wafer cookies and topped with a billowing pillar of baked meringue.
For the banana pudding custard
- ¾ cup plus 3 tablespoons white granulated sugar
- ⅓ cup all-purpose flour
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 3 large eggs, separated, at room temperature (You’ll use the egg whites for the meringue)
- 3 ¼ cups whole milk
- 2 tablespoons butter, soften (I use salted butter)
- 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
- 4 to 5 medium (fully ripe but not too ripe) bananas
- 1 (12- ounce) box vanilla wafers. (Save 4 or 5 for garnishing the top of the meringue if desired)
For the meringue topping (I usually go ahead and double the meringue recipe. Note: doubling the meringue is Totally optional.) But be sure to only put three eggs yolks in the custard. You can use the extra three egg yolks in an omelette or something else if you don’t want to throw them away.)
- 3 egg whites (From the separated egg yolks)
- ½ teaspoon cream of tartar
- 6 tablespoons white granulated sugar
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- To make the custard: In the top of a double boiler, combine ¾ cup plus 3 tablespoons of sugar, ⅓ cup of flour, and ¼ teaspoon salt. Mix well.
- In a small separate bowl, beat the egg yolks. Add milk and butter. Then, add the wet egg/ milk mixture to the dry ingredients in the double boiler. Whisk until smooth.
- Cook uncovered over boiling water, stirring constantly until thickened about 15 minutes. Reduce heat and cool stirring for 2 to 3 minutes.
- Remove from heat and stir in vanilla extract.
- Line the bottom of a 1 ½ quart baking (I use a glass baking dish so the layers show!) with a layer of vanilla wafers. Top with a layer of sliced bananas over the wafers. Next, pour about ⅓ cup of the custard over the bananas. Continue this process of layering wafers, bananas and custard to make 3 layers each ending with the custard. (I also like to line the sides of the glass dish with wafers too. It makes it look so pretty!) Note: Be sure to start the layering process while the custard is still warm. The warm custard softens the cookies and makes the banana pudding even more yummy!
- Cover the custard pudding bowl with plastic wrap and set aside while you make the meringue.
- To make the meringue: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. With an electric mixer, beat the eggs whites and cream of tartar, while gradually adding the 6 tablespoons of sugar one tablespoon at a time. Continue beating until stiff peaks form and mixture is glossy. Add vanilla extract. Spoon meringue over the pudding, spreading to cover the entire surface and sealing the edges.
- Bake in the preheated oven for 5 to 6 minutes or until meringue is lightly browned. Top with the remaining 4 or 5 vanilla wafers if desired. You can also crush the remaining wafers and sprinkle on top of the meringue. Serve warm. Refrigerate any leftovers. Enjoy!
Do ahead tip: You can make the banana pudding up the night before. Remember it’s best to layer the pudding when the custard is warm. My suggestion: if you want to make it the night before serving, go ahead and layer the pudding with wafers and bananas and cover it with plastic wrap. Keep refrigerated. Store your egg whites in the refrigerator and let them come to room temperature and make the meringue right before serving.