For our thirtieth birthdays – er, not very long ago, maybe it was even last year – my bestie Mary and I decided to go to New York. The trip was unequivocally centred around two things: shopping and eating cupcakes from Magnolia Bakery. We shopped every single day, and it’s safe to say that we are the worst/best shopping influence on each other – YOU HAVE TO BUY THAT - culminating in the performance of our lives by shopping for 12 hours straight in an outlet store heaven. Halfway through we stopped for 5 minutes to toss back a cheeseburger each in the same way that marathon runners grab bottles of electrolyte water in the middle of a run. So epic was this shopping event that we both felt nauseous afterwards, mine further compounded by the Commonwealth Bank calling me to see if my credit card had been stolen by some criminal with a penchant for Fendi and Michael Kors.
We also went to the Magnolia Bakery several times, buying 4 cupcakes each per visit (you have to make standing in the queue worthwhile) but never once did we try the banana pudding. I think it was because the cupcakes were so famous during this time that we didn’t bother with anything else. Since then, every time I’ve been to New York I’ve had the banana pudding because bananas, pudding and wafers are such a morish combination and cupcakes are so 2008.
Magnolia’s banana pudding recipe specifically uses Jello pudding and Nilla wafers which are a product of the USA and not so easy to track down in Australia. I like to bring them back with me from trips as only a crazed person obsessed with recreating a slice of New York will do. However, they can be substituted by making your own from-scratch vanilla pudding and home-made wafers if you enjoy a project, or Cottee’s vanilla pudding and Arnott’s Marie biscuits if you don’t.
You can make this in one big bowl or in individual servings if you happen to be hoarding a lot of jam jars (it makes about 6 – 8 jars depending on size of jars). I added extra whipped cream on top and salted caramel sauce because I am a very bad person, but feel free to finish with a final layer of pudding and just a sprinkling of wafer crumbs. I strongly encourage you to try this banana pudding, and to also shop in New York until your legs literally give way.
Adapted from Magnolia Bakery’s Banana Pudding recipe
1 can sweetened condensed milk (approx 400g)
1½ cups ice cold water
1 x 3.4 ounce package instant vanilla pudding mix, preferably Jell-O brand (substitute with 100g Cottees Instant Vanilla Pudding)
800ml pouring cream
1 x 12 ounce box Nabisco Nilla Wafers (substitute with I package Arnott’s Marie biscuits)
4 sliced large ripe bananas
Salted Caramel Sauce
150g caster sugar
100ml pouring cream
20g unsalted butter
1 tsp sea salt
On medium speed of an electric mixer, beat together the sweetened condensed milk and water until well combined. Add the pudding mix and beat well, about 2 minutes more. Cover and refrigerate for 3-4 hours or overnight, before continuing. It is very important to allow the proper amount of time for the pudding mixture to set.
For the salted caramel sauce:
Heat the caster sugar in a heavy saucepan over medium heat. Swirl the sugar around as it melts evenly, don’t stir it as it may crystallize. Once the liquid is a deep honey colour, take off the heat and whisk in the 1/3 of the cream before adding the rest of the cream, then add the butter in chunks and stir until smooth. Sprinkle over the salt. Leave to cool.
Whip the pouring cream in a mixer until stiff peaks form. Be careful not to overwhip. Scoop out about one quarter of the whipped cream and set aside. Gently fold the pudding mixture into the remaining whipped cream until well blended and no streaks of pudding remain. To assemble the dessert, select a large, wide bowl (preferably glass). Arrange one-third of the wafers to cover the bottom of the bowl, overlapping if necessary, then one-third of the bananas and one-third of the pudding. Repeat the layering twice more. Top with layer of whipped cream. Drizzle salted caramel sauce over the whipped cream. Garnish with extra wafers and/or banana. Cover tightly with plastic wrap and allow to chill in the refrigerator for 4 hours – or up to 8 hours – before serving.