Banana pudding is an important part of an American childhood, and mine is no different. Silky layers of homemade custard, fresh banana slices and softened cookies are hidden under an impressive cloud of soft, toasted meringue… it’s a delight for they eyes as well as the palate. When I was a child I obviously preferred the more cloying version of the dessert, with a sweetened whipped cream topping instead of the meringue, but my tastes have now come full circle. I find that the fluffy lightness of the meringue is the perfect accompaniment to the smooth pudding, and makes for a more interesting dessert.
Since eggs are the real star of this dish, I recommend using the freshest organic eggs you can find, like le Naturelle. This recipe is part of an ongoing collaboration with le Naturelle, so I’ll be posting some of my other favorite egg recipes until the end of the year!
Banana meringue pudding
for the pudding
- about 16 vanilla wafers
- 2 ripe bananas
- juice from 1 lemon
- il succo di un limone
- 2 1/4 cups (530 ml) whole milk, divided
- 1/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon sugar
- the seeds from 1 vanilla bean (optional)
- 3 tablespoons (30 g) cornstarch
- a pinch of salt
- 3 large egg yolks (I used uova biologiche le Naturelle)
- 2 tablespoons (30 g) butter, softened
- 1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
for the meringue
- 3 egg whites, at room temperature
- 4 tablespoons (50 g) sugar
For 8 servings
For the pudding: preheat the oven to 400°F (200°C) and prepare 8 ceramic ramekins. Place 2 cookies in the bottom of each ramekin; set aside.
Peel and slice the banana into thin rounds. Toss them in a shallow bowl with the lemon juice so they don’t turn brown. Cover with plastic wrap and set aside.
Heat 2 cups of the milk in a saucepan over medium heat, with half of the sugar and the vanilla seeds. Bring to a boil.
In a food processor or blender, blend together the other half of the sugar with the egg yolks. Scrape down sides and add the remaining 1/4 cup milk. Blend thoroughly then add the cornstarch and salt. Blend well. With the machine running, slowly add the hot milk while blending constantly. Blend well, then pour the hot mixture back into the saucepan and return to medium heat. Cook the custard, constantly stirring until thickened, about 2 minutes. It should never come to a boil, so lower the heat if necessary.
Remove from heat and add the butter and lemon zest.
Divide the banana slices evenly between the ramekins, layering them over the cookies. Pour the hot pudding on top of the bananas and shake the ramekins gently to let any air bubbles escape.
For the meringue: beat the egg whites in a clean bowl with electric beaters on high speed. When they start to get frothy, add one tablespoon of sugar, then continue beating. Add the rest of the sugar, one tablespoon at a time, beating between each addition. Continue to beat the egg whites to almost-stiff and shiny peaks.
Spread the meringue completely over each pudding, making sure to touch the edges of the ramekins. Mound the meringue in the center of each ramekin and create decorative swirls with the back of a spoon.
Bake in preheated oven for 8-10 minutes, or until the meringue is slightly toasted and golden brown. Let cool for at least 15 minutes before serving. Puddings will keep, refrigerated, for 3 days.