Friday, February 15, 2013

Kitchen Adventures; Banana Pudding

Growing up, I was never a fan of bananas. I would even say I had an aversion to them. The flavor was "meh". The texture was mealy and slimy at the same time. No bananas for me.

But then, in the summer of 2007, I was lucky enough to travel to Italy to study art history. It was incredible, to say the least. On the weekends, we would take short trips out of Tuscany to see other parts of this beautiful country. One weekend, we hiked along the shore at Cinque Terre.

 Aside from the absolutely stunning views, this 6 mile hike left us with major leg cramps- only one in our group was a regular at the gym. The girls I was with stopped at a stand to buy bananas - the potassium would help with the cramping. I was hesitant, but I didn't want to be the only one with leg cramps all night, so I bought a couple... and they weren't half bad. WHAAAAT? I didn't hate them. I wasn't grossed out. Now, I also didn't looooooove them, but it seemed like my relationship with bananas was on the up & up.

I did, however, begin to appreciate bananas more in a dessert capacity. Banana pudding is all over the South. It was kind of unavoidable.

Not so very long ago, hubs and I went on a dinner date to Church & State and we were completely blown away.  Yes, the quality of the food was amazing, but what really brought it home for us was how the food made us feel.

We had both been that kid who sat at the kitchen counter with a box of crackers and a can of chicken liver pate, so when the charcuterie board came out, we were taken back to our childhoods.

We had bonded making food together in those first months as a couple, so when the banana pudding tart was brought to the table, we were transported back to the kitchen in my college apartment.

For Valentine's day this year, I decided we should celebrate by making one of the desserts we used to make together in my old apartment.

Banana Pudding
makes 2 (large) individual servings

1 box of instant vanilla pudding
2 cups cold milk
1 box of vanilla wafers
1 cup heavy whipping cream
2 tbsp. powdered sugar
2 bananas, peeled and sliced

Whisk the pudding mix into the milk for 2 minutes. Set aside. Let stand for at least 5 minutes to set.
In a small bowl, combine heavy cream and powdered sugar. With a hand mixer or whisk attachment on an immersion blender, whip the heavy cream until soft peaks form.

Line the bottoms of two flat bottomed bowls or mini-caseroles with vanilla wafers. When the pudding is set, spread a layer of pudding over the cookies, then a layer of bananas, and another layer of cookies. Repeat until dessert has reached desired height, and top with your fresh whipped cream.

Then you can jump right in with a spoon, or let it sit for a little while and let the pudding seep into the cookies and soften them up. I'm impatient, so... we all know which option I chose.

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