Friday, August 31, 2012

Banana Pudding Trifle

I can't believe that tomorrow it will be September.  Where has the time gone?  Labor Day weekend is here and summer may be nearly over, but I'm sure we'll keep experiencing the heat of summer for quite a bit longer.   I also cannot believe that I have not made (or eaten) any banana pudding this summer!  We had mini banana puddin' at our wedding, but since none since then.

Banana Pudding is a dessert I first experienced while on a trip to SC a few years ago.  Don't worry, I completely fell in love with it!  Despite how delicious banana pudding is, it's rare to encounter it in the upper midwest (or at least in the area I grew up).  What a shame!

The banana pudding I first encountered featured the classic components of sliced bananas, cook and serve vanilla Jell-o pudding, Nilla Wafers, and cool-whip.  Do not get me wrong, I have a soft spot in my heart for all those ingredients, but I also like to mix things up.

I find that cooking the vanilla pudding mix on the stove is much more time consuming than simply making a batch of vanilla pastry cream.  Sometimes you just need the therapy & satisfaction that only comes from the exertion of hand whisking whipped cream.   That well-used 9x13 Pyrex pan is very practical for layering the pudding, but the beautiful trifle bowl you received at a wedding shower has been begging for a shot at the limelight.  And sometimes, you accidentally eat too many of the nilla wafers in the "pre assembly" stage because you have forgotten how delicious they are.  Oops!

Last week, there was a slight mishap when I was testing a batch of mini cupcakes for Small Batch.  The pan went from "not quite done" to "oh my goodness, they're almost too done" in like 2 minutes.  I frosted & used the less toasty ones & threw the remainder into the freezer to be used for another adventure.  That other adventure has come!  I cut the cake into pieces and layered them with the Nilla Wafers into this trifle.  I still feel banana pudding needs a bit of crunch.  And the cake/wafers combo will help disguise the fact that not all the wafers made it to the assembly stage of this dessert....

Even though this trifle deviates a bit from the original classic, it was still a hit! Nothing like finding a nearly empty trifle dish to attest to the greatness of the former contents :)

Vanilla Pastry Cream
32 oz Milk
7 oz granulated sugar, divided
2.5 oz corn starch
pinch of sea salt
7 ea egg yolks
1 oz butter
2 tsp Vanilla Bean Paste

1.  Pour the milk into a heavy sauce pan.  Sprinkle a little of the granulated sugar over the surface. Do NOT stir.  Heat the mixture to a simmer.  The sugar forms a protective barrier in the bottom of the milk & will keep it from burning.  

2.  Meanwhile, whisk together the remaining sugar, corn starch and the salt.  Whisk in the yolks.  

3.  Temper the hot milk into the yolk mixture by slowly pouring the milk in to the yolk bowl while whisking constantly.  

4.  Return the mixture to the sauce pan & heat over medium high heat until the mixture thickens and boils for a minimum of 15 seconds. The 15 seconds cooks out the cornstarch flavor. 

5.  Remove from the heat and stir in the cold butter.  Once the butter has melted, stir in the VB paste.  

6.  Cool the pastry cream at room temp with a layer of plastic wrap directly on the surface of the pastry cream.  {note: i like to cool mine by pouring the hot pastry cream onto a plastic wrap lined sheet pan & then using the excess plastic wrap to form a sort of "burrito" casing around the pastry cream.} 

Chantilly Cream
12 oz heavy cream
1 oz granulated sugar

1.  Place a metal bowl into the freezer for 20 minutes prior to making the chantilly cream.  

2.  Once the bowl has frozen, pour the cream and the sugar into it.  Whisk by hand until it forms medium to stiff peaks.  Set aside.  

1 batch pastry cream
1 batch chantilly cream
6 oz Nilla Wafers (I used mini ones) 
4.5 oz white or yellow cake, cut into cubes & toasted, if you like 
5 medium bananas, sliced   

{note: if you don't have cake scraps on hand, feel free to use an entire box of Nilla Wafers.   I wouldn't bake cake just for use in a banana puddin' ....  And if you don't have a trifle bowl, you can layer everything into a 9x13 baking dish instead} 

1.  Place the room temperature pastry cream into a large bowl.  Whisk to break it up.  Add half of the chantilly cream and beat to combine.  Place the remaining chantilly cream into a pastry bag fitted with a star tip.  

2.  In a trifle bowl, layer a little less than one third of the wafers and the yellow cake.  Top with a layer of bananas.  Add one third of the pastry cream & spread out evenly.  

3.  Repeat until all the pastry cream has been used.  Pipe rosettes of the whipped cream over the surface of the top layer of pastry cream.  Use the remaining wafers to make a border around the edge.  

4.  Chill a minimum of 1 hour before serving.  


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