Every year for his birthday I try to convince him that he wants cake and every year he reminds me that he wants an old fashioned banana pudding. He doesn't even like the banana/cool whip concoctions that I used to eat when I was a kid, he wants the warm banana pudding like his grandmother used to make. So... here we go.
You are going to need: 3/4 c. sugar, 2 T. cornstarch, 3 c. milk, 4 egg yolks, 1 tsp. vanilla, 1/2 stick butter, 3-4 medium sized bananas, 1 12oz box of Nilla wafers, 3 egg whites, 1/4 tsp. cream of tartar and 1/4 c. sugar. Your eggs should be at room temperature. Trust me, it will make your life easier.
Before you get started, it is easiest to separate your eggs now instead of later. You need 4 egg yolks and 3 egg whites. Separate the eggs into two small bowls. Slightly beat the egg yolks and then set both aside. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Let's start with a medium sized sauce pot. Mix together the 3/4 c. sugar and the 2 T. cornstarch. Using a whisk, slowly add the 3 c. milk. Is there something that you need to do? If so, do it now. Once you add the heat to this, you are stuck there until the mixture thickens. Inevitably your phone is going to ring three times, the UPS guy is going to need a signature from you and one of more of your neighbors is going to drop by to borrow something. You know how it is. Stir this mixture over a double boiler until it thickens. And again, do not leave unattended.
I don't have a double boiler, so I just cook over very low heat and patiently stir until the mixture has noticeably thickened. This can take anywhere from 10-20 minutes depending on your level of heat. You will be able to tell when it has thickened. I promise, it isn't a subtle change, it is obvious.
Now you need to add the egg yolks to the custard mixture. You can't just dump the egg yolks in because you will end up with scrambled eggs. Not so appetizing. You will need to temper the eggs yolks. You do this by adding a small amount of the hot mixture to the egg yolks. Mix thoroughly. What you are doing is warming up the egg yolks so that they won't totally freak out when they are added to the custard. Yeah, it's that scientific.
Your mixture should look like this. See? No scrambled eggs.
Add the tempered mixture into your custard. Stir together and cook for 2 minutes longer.
Remove from heat. Add the 1/2 stick of butter and 1tsp. vanilla. This is definitely one of those times that you will need a good quality vanilla. You can taste the vanilla very clearly, so choose one that you like the taste of. Let the custard cool. Be proud of yourself for making a custard from scratch. Call your mother-in-law to brag.
Once the mixture has cooled, chop up the bananas. Grab the Nilla wafers too.
I think the original recipe called for a 9 x 9 pan, but I always use this, which I have no idea what the dimensions are. Start off with a layer of custard. Add a layer of bananas. Then add a layer of Nilla wafers. Repeat. You will need to start and finish this with the custard mixture. Make sure that you pay attention to that.
Oh the things that I do to make my husband happy.
Alright, now that we have that done, let's make the meringue for the top. Remember those 3 egg whites? Let's make meringue.
Beat together the 3 egg whites and 1/4 tsp. cream of tartar until soft peaks form. Slowly add in the 1/4 c. sugar.
Beat until stiff peaks form. When you lift the beaters from the meringue mix, the meringue should make stiff peaks.
Top the banana pudding with the meringue. Pop into 350 degree oven just long enough to brown the meringue. It took mine about 15 minutes, but my oven is a dinosaur so it takes longer to do everything. Be sure to check often on the progress of your meringue.
This is best served warm. Enjoy!