Jan Norris: Food and Florida

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Banana Pudding Jars – Great for Picnics and Grill Parties

May 27th, 2012 · No Comments

Banana pudding in a jar /photo by Jan Norris

Here’s my latest fun – banana pudding in a jar. I got the idea from Lindsay Autry, Top Chef contestant, who served a lemon curd with meringue in a jar at a Pop-Up dinner I was at.

I owed food favors to friends, and had some bananas to use up, and had a bunch of cute jars a friend gifted me. So that’s how this works – use what you have to make what you want!

First, though, a custard recipe. You can by all means use a vanilla pudding out of a box – but that’s not how I roll, usually. (Tip: always add extra flavor to your boxed mixes, puddings, etc. by adding more vanilla – or rum, or Cointreau, or whatever.)

I came up with one that sounded OK, then added extra vanilla. I was leery of whether meringue would be OK in a jar, covered to give away, but it worked great.

These jars of banana pudding travel very well – pack in a cooler in ice. My diners say this pudding is best the next day – or even two days after making.

Here’s the recipe.

Banana pudding in a jar

  • 6 or 8 clean heat-proof jars with lids – see note
  • 1 recipe vanilla custard (recipe follows)
  • 7 to 8 ripe bananas, peeled and sliced into rounds
  • 1 box vanilla wafers – see note
  • Cooked meringue made with egg whites from custard recipe (recipe follows)

Make custard and let cool slightly. Make meringue.

Set clean jars out on counter. In each, put in small spoonful of custard. Add two or three vanilla wafers. Add layer of sliced bananas, a thicker layer of custard, wafers and bananas. Leave 1 inch of headspace on top for meringue – do not fill jar to top with banana pudding mix. Continue in each jar till all ingredients have been used.

When all ingredients have been used, top each jar with meringue (spoon or pipe onto surface), sealing jar well with meringue. Level off on top of jar with spatula slightly, but don’t worry if there are peaks higher than jar – lid will still close. Set jars on a cookie sheet and place on rack set at lower third of oven. Set oven broiler to 450 degrees to brown meringue. Watch carefully to prevent burning – ovens vary, but this should take no more than 6 to 8 minutes.

Makes 6 to 8 individual jars.

Note: Do not use thin glass jars for this – they can break in the oven under heat or under heat of small torch. Ball wide-mouth half-pint canning jars are preferred and are widely available.

Vanilla custard

  • 3-1/2 cups whole milk
  • 8 large egg yolks (reserve whites for meringue)
  • 2/3 cup granuated sugar
  • 1/4 cup cornstarch
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 1 tablespoon good quality pure vanilla extract

Pour milk into a large saucepan and set over medium heat. Scald milk – heat until it bubbles around edges of pan and is steamy – but do not boil.

Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, whisk together the egg yolks, sugar, cornstarch and salt. Whisking constantly and pouring slowly, add about 1 cup of the scalded milk into the mixture to temper it. (This brings the eggs up to temperature and prevents eggs from curdling; this keeps custard smooth.)

Pour, while whisking, the egg mixture into the scalded milk saucepot. Continue to cook over medium heat, stirring constantly with rubber spatula until mixture comes to a boil and thickens (170 degrees). Once thick, cook 1 minute, still stirring. Remove from heat and pour into a clean bowl to cool. (Set bowl over ice if in a hurry).

Makes approximately 4 cups custard.

Cooked meringue frosting

  • 5 egg whites, at room temperature
  • 2/3 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar, divided
  • 1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
  • 1/4 cup water
  • Dash of salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

In a stand mixer with whip attachment, whip egg whites till foamy on high speed; add 2 tablespoons sugar and whip until soft peaks form. Add cream of tartar – beat 2 minutes more.

In a medium saucepan over medium-high heat, combine 2/3 cup sugar, water, and salt. Cook, brushing down sides with pastry brush dipped in hot water, until mixture reaches the soft-ball stage – 235 degrees F.

With mixer running on medium-high speed, slowly pour in boiled sugar syrup. Beat until egg whites hold firm peaks; add vanilla. Continue beating until meringue has a shine.

Mixture can now be put into a pastry bag and piped out, or spooned or spread onto dessert.

(Makes enough to frost two 9-inch cake layers, or cover 3 9-inch pies. Reserve any remainder, covered tightly, in refrigerator for 4 days.)

Variations: For the vanilla wafers, you could substitute chocolate wafer cookies – the kind used in ice-box cakes and found on the ice-cream aisle. Or, use crushed peanut-butter cookies – whole ones will not soften with pudding and so are better if crushed. Drizzle meringue with chocolate syrup and add a cherry to make a banana-split type pudding.

Blast from the past: Chocolate fudge pecan sheet cake

Tags: Baking: Cheap therapy · Party Foods · Play With Your Food · Recipes · Recipes: What's Cooking!

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