I may have mentioned my one easy diet recommendation here before: skip all desserts that aren't homemade. The mere fuss of having to make each dessert you want to eat would probably help lots of folks cut the calories. We do make plenty of exceptions in our house. We buy ice cream. We eat dark chocolate. But, by and large, we stick to this rule. Store-bought cookies are special-occasion exceptions.
But I must confess that Nabisco Nilla Wafers are peerless. Their perfect shape and the perfect way they get soft when dunked in milk. No homemade version can compare. And I've tried. I can resist eating more than a handful of potato chips, but it's hard to close up the Nilla Wafer box without having devoured at least ten.
Therefore, it was fitting that the first recipe I chose to try from my new Sonya Jones Sweet Auburn Desserts cookbook was Banana Pudding. Jones' recipe held true not just to store-bought vanilla wafers, but she also went the extra mile and covered the pudding in meringue, the rich man's Cool Whip.
The first problem I encountered was that someone had eaten some of my ripening bananas. Therefore the recipe had to be three-quartered. Math skills to the rescue! For your sake, however, I'll just include the original recipe.
Mostly Homemade Banana Pudding
3 Tbsp flour
1-1/2 c sugar
1/4 tsp salt
3 c milk
4 egg yolks
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 12-ozs box vanilla wafers
6 large bananas, sliced
4 egg whites
1/4 c sugar
Preheat oven to 375F.
In a saucepan, combine flour, sugar, and salt. Stir in the milk and cook over medium heat about 5 minutes. Beat the egg yolks in a mixing bowl. Slowly add 1/2 c of the milk mixture to the egg yolks (to warm them up), and then add yolk mixture back into the saucepan of milk mixture. Cook, stirring constantly, for 12-15 minutes, until the pudding thickens and coats spoon. Remove from heat and add vanilla.
Spread a thin layer of the pudding on the bottom of an oven-safe bowl or baking dish. Layer 1/3 of the wafers over the pudding, then cover with 1/3 of banana slices. Repeat layers, ending with a layer of custard.
To make the meringue, beat egg whites until foamy and then add sugar slowly. Beat until stiff peaks form. Spread over the pudding and seal the edges. Bake 10 minutes or until nicely browned.
My only notes to self on the recipe would be to reduce the sugar in the pudding slightly. I thought it was a little too sweet, but the rest of the family loved it. Definitely I would make this again, especially since I three-quartered the recipe and got to eat all the extra vanilla wafers dunked in milk...