Banana Pudding Parfaits
Banana Pudding is an old-fashioned Southern dessert traditionally made with layers of Nilla wafers, vanilla pudding and sliced bananas. Depending on who’s making it, it’s either topped with baked meringue, sweetened whipped cream or cookies. I’ve tried every variation and many different recipes, and this version beats them all. It’s a little more gourmet than most, and bucks tradition a bit, but still tastes wonderfully nostalgic and delicious.
Instead of the classic Nilla wafers, I use crumbled shortbread cookies because they have a rich, buttery flavor and stay crunchy even when completely covered with pudding. The crunch of the cookies against the creamy smoothness of the bananas and pudding is what makes these parfaits so good. However, if you want to stick with tradition and use Nilla Wafers, that’s okay — just keep in mind that they will soften and take on a cake-like texture unless you assemble the parfaits at the last minute.
As for the pudding, homemade is the way to go. It’s easy to make and, of course, so much better than the instant variety. I make mine with a splash of dark rum, which accents the flavor of the bananas, and then lighten it with sweetened whipped cream.
Begin by separating the eggs for the pudding. You won’t use the whites, so save them for an egg white omelet, Forgotten Kisses, or Fudgy Double Chocolate Meringues. Then combine the yolks, sugar, corn starch and salt in a saucepan.
Whisk in the milk and bring to a simmer over medium heat.
Once the mixture bubbles, turn the heat down and whisk constantly until the pudding thickens.
Off the heat, whisk in the butter, vanilla and rum.
Transfer the pudding to a bowl.
Cover with saran wrap and refrigerate for a few hours until cold. (Placing the saran wrap directly over top keeps the pudding from forming a film.)
Or, if you’re in a hurry, you can place the pudding in an ice bath and whisk occasionally until cold.
Once the pudding is cold, whip the heavy cream.
Gently fold it into the pudding and refrigerate until ready to assemble the parfaits.
To begin, spoon a large dollop of pudding into the bottom of each glass. Cover with a layer of crumbled cookies and bananas and repeat, finishing with a layer of pudding.
Crush some of the cookies into crumbs and sprinkle over top of each parfait. Refrigerate for a few hours, or until ready to serve.
These parfaits are the perfect dessert for a summer barbecue because they are completely make-ahead — all you have to do when your guests arrive is pull them out of the fridge. Enjoy!
*These parfaits are best when made 3-4 hours ahead of time.
Banana Pudding Parfaits
For the Pudding
- 3/4 cup sugar
- 1/4 cup + 2 tablespoons cornstarch
- Heaping 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 6 egg yolks
- 3-1/2 cups whole milk
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
- 1 tablespoon dark rum
For the Sweetened Whipped Cream
- 1/2 cup heavy cream, cold
- 2 tablespoons Confectioners' sugar
- 3-4 large bananas, very ripe but not mushy, sliced
- 1-1/2 boxes Walkers Pure Butter shortbread cookies, or similar, broken into 1/4-inch pieces
- In a medium saucepan, stir together the sugar, cornstarch, salt and yolks. Whisk in the milk and bring to simmer, stirring frequently, over medium heat (it will take 5-8 minutes). When the mixture starts to bubble, turn the heat down to low and continue cooking, whisking constantly, for 1-2 minutes until the mixture thickens. Remove the pan from the heat and immediately whisk in the butter, vanilla and rum. Transfer the mixture to a bowl and place a piece of saran wrap directly over the pudding to prevent a film from forming. Chill in the refrigerator until cool, a few hours. (To hurry it up, you can place the bowl in an ice bath and whisk occasionally until cold.)
- Once the pudding is cold, place the heavy cream in a medium mixing bowl. Using an electric mixer, whip on medium-low speed until the whisk or beaters begin to leave tracks in the cream. Add the Confectioners' sugar and whip until the cream holds medium, silky peaks. Go slowly towards the end; if it gets grainy or curdled, you’ve gone too far. Use a rubber spatula to fold the whipped cream into the cold pudding.
- Spoon a large dollop of the pudding mixture into the bottom of each parfait glass. Top with one layer of cookie pieces and one layer of sliced bananas. Repeat once and top with a final layer of pudding. Crumble some of the cookie pieces and sprinkle over top. Refrigerate until ready to serve.
- *Do not slice the bananas until you are ready to assemble the parfaits. Parfaits are best when made 3-4 hours ahead of time.