3Tablespoonslemon juicelime juice may be substituted
45vanilla wafersdivided (click the link to make your own homemade vanilla wafers)
2ozdark chocolate baroptional
Whisk together sugar, cornstarch, and salt in a medium-sized heavy-bottomed saucepan.
In a large measuring cup or separate bowl, whisk together milk, 1 ½ cups heavy cream, and egg yolks until yolks are beaten and ingredients are well-combined.
While whisking the dry ingredients, drizzle milk mixture into saucepan and whisk until completely combined.
Transfer saucepan to stovetop over medium heat and whisk constantly until mixture thickens to a pudding-like consistency. The whisk should leave trails in the pudding and if you dip the back of a spoon into the pudding it should be entirely coated with pudding. Note that this will take some time, typically around 10-15 minutes or possibly even longer. Do not turn up the heat to high or you’ll burn the mixture, cook the eggs, and ruin the pudding. Just be patient!
Once pudding has thickened, remove from heat and pour through fine mesh strainer into a heatproof bowl. Whisk in butter, one piece at a time until melted and then whisk in vanilla.
Let pudding sit cool for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally, then cover by pressing a piece of plastic wrap or parchment directly against the surface of the pudding to prevent a skin from forming. Refrigerate until completely cooled before proceeding (pudding may be prepared up to 48 hours in advance). When pudding has cooled, prepare whipped cream.
Combine 3 cups heavy cream, powdered sugar, and 2 teaspoons vanilla extract and use an electric mixer or stand mixer to beat until stiff peaks have formed.
Remove chilled pudding from the fridge and stir. Add half of the whipped cream mixture to the pudding and stir together using a spatula until completely combined.
Slice two bananas into ⅛” thick slices and brush lightly with lemon juice on both sides (this keeps the bananas from browning too quickly).
Spread a thin layer of pudding over the bottom of a 2.5qt baking dish (or see note 3) and then top with an even layer of vanilla wafers (about 20 cookies for me).
Top each vanilla wafer with a brushed banana slice (if slices are small, use two per cookie).
Top the banana/cookie layer with half of your pudding mixture, gently spreading in an even layer.
Nestle another layer of vanilla wafers into the pudding and top with banana slices (if needed, slice and brush your last banana).
Top with remaining pudding. Dollop remaining whipped cream on top. Cover and refrigerate at least 4 hours (pudding should be served with 24-48 hours of being assembled). Before serving, crumble 5-6 vanilla wafer cookies over the whipped cream and use a potato peeler to add chocolate curls/shavings overtop. Serve and enjoy!
¹Milk and cream substitutes
You may substitute 2% milk for the whole milk.This recipe also works if you substitute the heavy cream for additional milk or if you substitute both the milk and cream for half-and-half. Cream (heavy cream, whipping cream, or double cream) must be used for the whipped cream, however.
This recipe may be made in a 9x13 pan (do one bottom layer of cookies and bananas topped with the pudding mixture and then whipped cream) or in a trifle dish. It may also be portioned into individual trifle dishes or mason jars.
Make ahead instructions
Banana pudding should ideally be assembled several hours before serving to let the flavors develop, but preferably no more than 48 hours before serving, as the bananas will eventually begin to brown and break down. However, the pudding can be prepared 2-3 days in advance of assembling, and the cookies (if making homemade) can be prepared up to 5 days in advance. I recommend making the whipped cream and preparing the bananas immediately before assembly.
I do not recommend freezing as the pudding does not hold up well to being frozen and then thawed.