A classic Southern pudding dessert recipe featuring homemade vanilla pudding and whipped cream, Nilla Wafer™ cookies and bananas.
I don’t know about your family, but when mine gets together, there is typically an outrageous amount of food, and desserts are never in short supply. It’s like the women in my family just can’t contain themselves, and pies, cakes, and cookies flood the tables. See? I come by it honestly. At any given occasion, we could make a meal of the sugary stuff alone. I’m not saying it would be a healthy meal, I’m just saying there’s always more than enough to go around, and inevitably a whole pie or cake will go almost untouched. Heartbreaker.
I imagine a dessert overload is not too far out of the ordinary for most potluck Southern gatherings. So how do you make your dessert stand out amongst the rest? How do you keep your dessert from being…well, deserted? Cause, let’s face it: When it comes to potluck desserts, us ladies are on the hunt for a Real Deal Holyfield show-stopper. A dessert that’ll bring the house down and have guests ranting and raving over our sweet, sweet success. Dear friends, your solution lies within the many layers of the lovely trifle.
A trifle is a layered dessert typically consisting of pudding, some sort of cake and whipped cream. They are moist, decadent and absolutely beautiful. My Banana Pudding Trifle begins with a creamy, decadent homemade vanilla pudding and layers of fresh sliced bananas. America’s beloved Nilla Wafers™ are comfortably nestled amongst beds of pudding, while thick, luscious whipped cream cascades across the top. It’s cool, it’s satisfying and it could not be more appropriate for both spring and summertime entertaining. This Southern trifle is guaranteed to get your dessert the attention it deserves. However, I must warn you: You may find yourself amidst a classic Catch 22, wishing you were leaving with just a little bit more to take home. Please, enjoy.
- 6 tablespoons cornstarch
- 1 teaspoon fine sea salt separated
- 5 cups whole milk
- 8 large egg yolks
- 2 cups granulated sugar
- 3 tablespoons unsalted butter room temperature
- 2 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract separated
- 4 cups cold heavy whipping cream
- 1/2 cup confectioners powdered sugar
- 2 yellow ripe bananas, cut at a 1/4” bias
- 8-10 ounces Nilla Wafers™
To make the homemade vanilla pudding, in a small bowl, whisk together cornstarch and 3/4 teaspoon fine sea salt. Set aside until ready to use.
In a large sauce pan, warm the milk over medium heat. Do not allow to simmer. Remove from the heat once warmed and set aside.
Combine egg yolks and sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachments. Alternatively, use a large mixing bowl and a handheld mixer. Beat on medium-high speed until pale yellow and thickened, 3-5 minutes. Sprinkle in cornstarch mixture and mix until absorbed. Mixing on low, stream in about two-thirds of the warmed milk, taking care to scrape the sides of the bowl down. Carefully pour the contents of the stand mixer into the saucepan with the remaining milk. Stir to combine and place saucepan over medium heat once more.
Allow the pudding mixture to simmer, 8-10 minutes, stirring all the while until thickened. Remove from the heat and stir in the butter until melted, followed by 1 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract. Set aside to cool.
For the whipped cream, combine cream, confectioners sugar, 1 teaspoon vanilla extract and a 1/4 teaspoon sea salt in the clean bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Alternatively, use a large mixing bowl and a handheld mixer. Began beating on low speed until the mixture has just slightly thickened, then crank up the speed to medium-high. Beat for 2-4 minutes, until stiff peaks have formed. To determine whether or not your whipping cream is at a “stiff peak,” turn the beater right-side up. If the cream stands up on its own without drooping downward, it’s ready. Refrigerate until ready to use.
To assemble the trifle, in a standard-sized trifle bowl, add 3/4 cup vanilla pudding* and spread into an even layer using an offset spatula or a the back of a large spoon. Add a single layer of bananas across the pudding, followed by another layer of pudding. Place Nilla Wafers ™ atop and add one more layer of pudding. Top with 2 cups of the whipped cream. Repeat this exact process once more. Both additions will go like this: Pudding, bananas, pudding, wafer cookies, pudding, and lastly, whipped cream.
Place trifle in the refrigerator and allow to chill at least 2 hours before serving.
*All layers of vanilla pudding should be about 3/4 cup.