Banana pudding sits high in the royal court of Southern desserts, and it doesn’t get much better than the classic recipe on the back of the Nilla wafer box. But sometimes it can’t hurt to experiment, and it’s not often difficult to find a line of folks ready and willing to try my latest spin. Two of my greatest hits are MoonPie Banana Pudding and Banana Pudding Ice Cream Pie. Seriously, how bad can those be?
Not being able to leave well enough alone, I decided to give the recipe another go. This time I added brown sugar and bourbon to my vanilla pudding base, giving it a hint of butterscotch and a bit more grown-up appeal. And to further the recipe’s cocktail-lovin’ flare, I substituted in sweet and spicy gingersnaps for the usual plain wafers—my nod to the old Southern standby “Jack & Ginger.”
While most recipes for banana pudding call for a big trifle dish, I thought these would be best piled into my favorite cocktail glasses; the individual servings are perfect for your next adults-only dinner party, no I.D. required. Now the only thing left is to figure out how to get these down with a straw.
Bourbon Banana Puddings
Active time: 45 minutes
Total time: 9 hours (or overnight) including chill time
Yields: 6 individual large puddings (8 – 10 in smaller glasses)
2 cups whole or 2% milk
4 large egg yolks
1/2 cup sugar
1/3 cup light brown sugar
1/4 cup cornstarch
1/4 teaspoon table salt
4 tablespoons bourbon or whiskey
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 cups heavy whipping cream
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
30 gingersnap cookies
4 ripe bananas, sliced crosswise
for the pudding base
In a heavy-bottomed saucepan, bring milk to a gentle simmer over medium heat. In a separate bowl, combine egg yolks, sugar, brown sugar, cornstarch, and salt. Beat with an electric mixer until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes.
Stir a small amount of the warmed milk into the yolk mixture to temper the eggs. Whisk the yolk mixture back into the into the saucepan with the remaining milk. Reduce heat to medium-low and cook until the custard starts to thicken, about 3-5 minutes. Stir in the bourbon and vanilla and continue cooking until glossy and quite thick, another 1-2 minutes. Remove from heat and whisk in the butter, stirring until it is completely melted.
Push pudding through a fine mesh sieve into a large bowl. Press plastic wrap directly over the surface of the pudding and refrigerate for a minimum of four hours, or overnight.
In a medium bowl, beat the heavy cream and vanilla with an electric mixer until stiff peaks form. Fold the whipped cream into the bourbon pudding until no visible streaks remain. In individual serving glasses, layer pudding, gingersnaps, and bananas, finishing with a layer of pudding on top. Chill for 4 hours (and no longer than eight) before serving. Crush remaining gingersnaps and sprinkle crumbs over the top.
Nealey moved from Alabama to the West Coast to follow her dreams, only to realize once there how much she missed good ol’ country cooking. So she took to the kitchen and began re-creating the dishes of her past, but this time without any help from a can. What started out as a hobby turned into an obsession, so she quit her day job to pursue cooking, and eating, fulltime. Dixie Caviar is where you can follow her pursuits of all things Southern.
More Southern Favorites From Nealey
- Texas Sheet Cake
- Creamy Corn Hush Puppies
- Pulled Pork Nachos
- Fried Green Tomato BLT
- Peach Cobbler
- Crawfish Boil
- Grilled Banana Bread Ice Cream Sandwiches