banana puddings with vanilla bean wafers Recipes

banana puddings with vanilla bean wafers

A year ago, I made what I called Bananas Foster Puddings — individual puddings in which the bananas had been lightly caramelized in butter, brown sugar and rum before being layered with vanilla custard and kind of mediocre homemade vanilla wafers before being topped with a tuft of broiled meringue. The evening I made them, I managed to spill a pint glass of water (full, I mean, of course) right next to my laptop, which led to all sorts of drama including the loss of the photos and recipe, in case you’re wondering why nobody’s going to be mistaking me for a lifestyle guru anytime soon.


vanilla bean wafers
what you'll need for the custard

I was crushed and promised a redo but for the life of me, couldn’t get enthusiastic enough about it to make them again. I chalked it up to lingering morning sickness, to the fact that maybe banana pudding wasn’t my thing, but it wasn’t until last week, when curiosity about what everyone else likes in banana pudding took me on a field trip to my old neighborhood where the bakery downstairs from my old apartment is rather beloved for theirs when I realize that the problem was me: I had attempted to upend a classic that wasn’t necessarily improved by it. Or more succinctly: It wasn’t broken so I didn’t need to fix it. Rookie mistake!

for a rich pudding
bloop bloop bloop
custard, to chill
vanilla bean wafer

Caramelized bananas might be one of the most delicious things in the world but layered against a cold pudding and chilled, their texture fell a bit to gloop. Meringue, those ethereal piles of white plume, is wonderful on many pies, less enjoyable from the fridge a couple days later. And the best custard for the assembly — my takeaway from my crosstown excursion — is a bit on the loose side, so when those cookies begin to absorb it, the remaining pudding isn’t halfway to paste. Finally, while I’ve gotten closer to my homemade “nilla” wafer ideal this winter (in part by all but giving up on exactly replicating the bland factory-fabricated originals) I’ve found that a tiny buttery sugar cookie with two types of vanilla and a good pinch of sea salt is absolutely glorious in the pudding, standing out rather than being stuffed under.

banana pudding with vanilla bean wafers
banana pudding with vanilla bean wafers

One year ago: Caramelized Onion and Gruyere Biscuits
Two years ago: Cheese Blintz
Three years ago: Pasta and White Beans with Garlic-Rosemary Oil
Four years ago: Potato Chip Cookies
Five years ago: Mushroom and Farro Soup
Six years ago: Tomato Sauce with Butter and Onions and Ricotta Muffins
Seven years ago: Smashed Chickpea Salad and Bittersweet Chocolate and Pear Cake
Eight years ago: Key Lime Cheesecake
Nine years ago: Sweet and Spicy Candied Pecans

And for the other side of the world:
Six Months Ago: Takeout-Style Sesame Noodles with Cucumber
1.5 Years Ago: Three-Ingredient Summertime Salsa
2.5 Years Ago: Banana Nutella and Salted Pistachio Popsicles
3.5 Years Ago: Zucchini Bread Pancakes
4.5 Years Ago: Corn Buttermilk and Chives Popovers

Banana Pudding with Vanilla Bean Wafers
Custard adapted from Saveur, wafers from AllRecipes

I feel like I should duck some flying banana peels to say this, but this is really for the best if you start a day (or more) early. I know, I’m the worst. But the custard really needs an overnight in the fridge to set and you might as well get the cookies out of the way then too. Once assembled, you can eat it right away but I like it after settling in the fridge for a few more hours so the cookies get some give to them. Now, of course you don’t have to make your own vanilla wafers, but you will not regret these. What they lack in factory-pressed appearance, they make up for in deep vanilla flavor with a hint of saltiness that contrasts wonderfully against the sweet custard and fruit. Should you wish to use storebought cookies, the yields are similar, I got a little over 80 small cookies here and there are about 80 in the 11-ounce ‘Nilla wafer boxes. In pudding cups, I didn’t use them all.

You could also make this in one big dish, an 8×8-inch or other 2-quart dish. You’d likely use all of the cookies for this, and should make double the whipped cream for a topping.

Yield: 8 approximately 1-cup puddings

Custard
3⁄4 cup (150 grams) granulated sugar
1⁄4 cup (35 grams) cornstarch
1/4 teaspoon fine salt
6 large egg yolks
3 1⁄2 cups (830 ml) milk, preferably whole
2 tablespoons (30 grams) butter, cut into a few bits
1 tablespoon (15 ml) vanilla
1 tablespoon (15 ml) dark rum (optional, but think it has an amazing impact here)

Wafers
1 cup (200 grams) granulated sugar
Seeds from 1/2 of a fresh vanilla bean
1/2 cup (115 grams) unsalted butter, softened
1 large egg
1 tablespoon (15 ml) vanilla extract
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
1 1/3 cups (176 grams) all-purpose flour

Assembly
1/2 cup heavy cream
2 teaspoons granulated sugar
4 large firm-ripe bananas, thinly slices

Make the custard: Whisk sugar, cornstarch, salt and yolks together in the bottom of a large saucepan, ideally 4-quarts to protect against splattering as it simmers. Drizzle in milk, whisking the whole time so that no lumps form. Place over medium heat on the stove and bring up to a simmer, stirring. Once simmering, stirring, until custard thickens, 4 to 7 minutes. Remove from heat; whisk in butter, vanilla, and rum. Let chill in fridge for several hours or overnight to finish thickening. You’ll have 4 cups custard.

Make the wafers: Heat oven to 350°F. In the bottom of a large bowl, combine sugar and vanilla been seeds, rubbing them together so that the abrasion from the sugar granules helps release the maximum vanilla flavor. Add the butter and beat with an electric mixer until light and fluffy. Add egg and vanilla, beat to combine. Sprinkle baking powder and salt over batter, beat to combine. Add flour and once again, beat just to combine.

Line two large baking sheets with parchment paper or nonstick baking mats. Using your tiniest scoop (yes, I actually have one that holds about 1 teaspoon), spoon or even a 1-teaspoon measuring spoon, scoop the dough (you can then roll it in your palms for a more perfect final round shape) and space at least 2 inches apart on prepared sheets. Bake 10 to 11 minutes, keeping a close eye on them. You’ll want them to be nicely golden at the edges before you take them out. Let cool on racks. Yield: About 80 1 3/4-inch cookies.

Assembly: Beat heavy cream with 2 teaspoons sugar until soft peaks form. Line the bottom of 8 1-cup dishes with a wafer cookie. Add custard (you’re looking to use about 1/3 of it total right now). Top with a layer of bananas. Repeat twice with more cookies (you can break them up to get them to fit better in small cups), custard and bananas. Dollop each pudding with whipped cream; chill (I prefer to do so with lids on so the whipped cream doesn’t dry out) for a few hours and up to a few days.

Jars Are Weck Tulip Jelly Jars (which I’d bought to keep baby food organized then, predictably, co-opted). I urge everyone to buy “keep fresh covers” for Weck jars. Clamps are adorable and photogenic but definitely annoying in the long run. I order them from Weck directly and save the gaskets and clamps for future canning projects.

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142 comments on banana puddings with vanilla bean wafers

  1. Paula

    I don’t typically go for banana pudding, but this is looking migh-ty tempting right now. Is it blasphemy to perhaps sprinkle some peanut butter chips on top?

  2. Tom

    This looks phenomenal. But now the important question… Where does one get that embargoed rum in the US? ;) I was just in Holland last week and drank as much Havana Club Especial as I could while I could have it!

  3. I have to thank you for the “don’t reinvent the wheel” bit, which I struggle with! Great reminder. And my sympathies for the lost photos, etc. But it brought you to a great, classic place.

    [Aside to Paula: or some chopped roasted peanuts, maybe? Now I’m back to reinventing the wheel…]

  4. SallyT

    This is right up my alley – I’ve been making egg muffin cups, which leaves me with many egg yolks – you know, like in give a pig a pancake, if you make egg muffin cups that leave you with yolks, you’ll need to make vanilla custard with them, and if you make vanilla custard… That was my Tuesday – it went on and on! SO, YES, this pudding will happen. Thank yoU!

  5. deb

    Tom — Is it still what with Cuban relations now warmed up? Regardless, my husband picked it up duty-free on his way back from Munich in the fall. It’s so good, it almost reminded me a good mellow bourbon at the first sip.

    Re, additions — Salted peanuts, yes. Also a good dark toffee sauce with sea salt, such as the one here, yesss. (A little less cream and it will be a little more thick.)

    Judi — They’re Weck Tulip Jelly Jars and I bought them to keep baby food organized (with the knowledge they can always be used later for canning with the gaskets they come with) and have already co-opted them. :) I urge everyone to buy the plastic lids/”keep fresh covers” for the jars. Clamps are adorable and photogenic but definitely annoying in the long run. I order them from Weck directly.

    The wafers keep — Easily two weeks in an airtight container. (Ours are on Day 10, just fine.) They get very crunchy! This is the point.

  6. Natalie

    I love banana pudding!!! I will say, for those too lazy/short on time to make your own cookies, Trader Joe’s makes a vanilla wafer cookie that is very improved Nilla Wafer. They taste like vanilla and butter, not…vanilla flavor. :-|

  7. Tom

    Deb- Yes, unfortunately the trade embargo is still in place. It will take an act of congress (literally) to lift the embargo, unfortunately. That rum sooo incredible. I haven’t found anything that even comes close to it. Enjoy it!!

  8. Katie Jensen

    A restaurant here in Portland, OR makes something similar except that they have bits of hazelnut brittle added to the layers…that added sweet crunch just takes it to the next level! I’ll bet you can figure out how to do that if it intrigues you!

  9. beth

    If you layer your vanilla custard with 1″ chunks of pound cake and sprinkle with cinnamon, you have my grandmother’s “white pudding cake.” I haven’t tried adding rum, but I bet it’s phenomenal – thanks for the idea! Now I have to go home and make your ‘nilla wafers to try this.

  10. My grandma didn’t cook much, but she made a killer banana pudding that I still dream about. This one looks just like it, except for the homemade cookies. Yum! I’m definitely going to try this out!

  11. Before I mention this delicious pudding I have to say I am baffled: I have used Weck jars for years as have both my grandmother’s and I am living in Germany but what a shame, I have never heard about these plastic covers! Going on a hunt now, they are super & practical for exactly the reason you got them (hurrah) – must have them. Love the pudding, exactly what I crave right now.
    Nicole

  12. Mimi (another one :)

    Those little wafers sound great. I bet they go well with lots of desserts…

    The only thing I have to complain about is that I cannot really see your daughter’s cute little face as she slides past in the toboggan (sp?) with her big brother :)

  13. Anna

    Deb,
    This looks delicious and I love the light yellow shade! I am sure this has been asked before maybe even by me but for some reason I so not like cornstarch. Can I substitute it with something or leave out all together? Or should I start liking cornstarch and if so what brand do you use? Every time I hear the word ‘corn’ I think GMO.

  14. Emily

    Would it be possible to mash the bananas and stir them into the pudding, do you think? I love the taste of banana pudding but can’t stand the texture of the bananas. Irrational, I know :(

  15. Caterina

    Those look so delicious. My first introduction to banana pudding was a trip to Magnolia Bakery in New York. I make “cheater” banana puddings with Nilla wafers, banana and greek yogurt. Nothing beats real banana pudding though :)

    To Michelle’s comment, you speak for yourself my dear. The rest of us enjoy Deb’s writing and quite frankly, I have never had a recipe from this site fail me.

  16. Elizabeth

    Why do we need to use two types of vanilla in the cookies? Did neither a full vanilla bean nor more vanilla extract alone do the trick?

  17. Kristin

    Growing up, my mom rarely made us dessert, but every once in a while we would get banana pudding like this, only instead of vanilla wafers there were graham crumbs between layers. Cannot wait to make this on the weekend!

  18. Ed

    Is the baking temp really 250? First-time commenter here. Love this site for years! I can’t count how many times I have made the carnitas. Thanks for your dedication!

  19. deb

    Anna — I started with a Bananas Foster recipe, the banana portion. There are many other ways, however. I was even looking at Jacques Pepin’s this week, because I liked the addition of lemon. He uses the broiler.

    I’ve seen many recipes that use flour instead of cornstarch; I made one last year (different proportions). No reason you cannot start with one of them for the custard portion.

    Emily — I’m not positive it would work without throwing off the pudding texture a lot.

    Elizabeth — I think they impart different flavors and together make for a louder, more well-rounded vanilla. But you can skip either. For the extract, however, since 1 tablespoon liquid is a lot, I might use 1 tablespoon of something else just to make sure the cookie batter doesn’t end up too thick/not spreading enough.

    Ed — No, it’s 350, now fixed. Thanks for the heads up.

  20. Tina (einkleinesbisschen_)

    Hey Deb, I just leave the recipe for the baked rice pudding here, hope that’s okay. I have a copy of this recipe from a cookbook in my folder. This is an adaption from it.
    Baked rice pudding with caramel/cinnamon crust.
    (found a similar version online: http://www.kuechengoetter.de/rezepte/verschiedenes/Karamellisierter-Ofenmilchreis-mit-Backobstkompott-3666163.html)
    1,7l milk
    200 grams liquid cream
    1 tablespoon vanilla extract

    180 grams sugar
    1 tablespoon cinnamon

    –> mix sugar and cinnamon and keep 4 tablespoons seperate

    250 grams rice (in Germany it is called ‘Milchreis’, but whatever you use for rice pudding will work)

    Preheat oven to 250*F. Butter the dish, don’t be shy with the butter. (I use the dutch oven for this, 25×30 cm is what the recipe calls for). Mix all ingredients except for the rice in a sauce pan and stir until combined and let it simmer (medium heat) for 10 minutes. If you’re aiming for a stronger vanilla taste, use a whole bean instead of the extract and remove it after 10 minutes. Toss the rice to the milk/cream and give it a few stirs, then fill it in your dish (is that even the right word?). After 1 hour there should be ‘skin’ on the rice. Sprinkle it with a little bit of the sugar/cinnamon mix and keep on doing that every half hour or so until you have a delicious golden crust and all liquids are absorbed. That might take 3-3,5 hours.

    Sorry that I cannot give you the recipe in cups, I don’t want to mess with the measurements, this is how I know that it works. Love your website so much!!!

  21. Amy

    I just made the wafers, and I think you made a typo on the oven temperature. The instructions say to put it at 250 for 10 minutes, I think you must have meant 350 – because they weren’t even close to being done at the instructed time/temp. We turned up the temp to 350 and they turned out great! Thanks for the recipe!

  22. deb

    Tina — Thank you so much for sharing the recipe. I hope you don’t mind that I removed it (will save it for research) so our side conversation doesn’t confuse everyone. I hope to get back to it this weekend, with your help.

    Amy — I am so sorry. I just caught the typo (Michelle has a point!) and it’s now fixed. Glad you figured it out.

  23. jillian

    please don’t get a copywriter. or at least don’t feel like you have to. i enjoy that your blog is one of the few quality food blogs that’s still simple and has a very pleasant homemade quality about it. plus, it’s free. if i was paying for your recipes, then i’d expect them to be polished and perfect, but i’m not, so i think the occasional typo is refreshing and honest.

  24. These desserts look SO delicious. I love banana. And homemade custard.
    I actually think this would be the perfect dessert for a dinner party or other entertaining events. You make everything ahead of time and then you assemble right before serving! I usually try do as much as possible the day before a social event so I don’t have to worry about a dirty kitchen the day of the event.

    I’m keeping this little treasure recipe in my back pocket. They look so good.

  25. Libby

    Chiming in on the copy comments- I appreciate the amazing amount of work it must be to provide us with this (free, high quality) content. Not that it’s necessary, but I, along with I assume hundreds of other people, would happily proofread your copy for free if you decided you wanted another set of eyes. Thanks for the consistently great ideas, inspiration and recipes.

  26. L.

    Deb, have you found it OK to double a custard recipe like this? (While you are answering that question do you mind also commenting on if a lemon custard, i.e. for a lemon meringue pie will double well?). Or does one need to alter the recipe when wanting a double batch. Thanks!! LOVE your blog.

  27. Banana hasn’t been as appealing since I had baby for whatever reason–some pregnancy stuff sticks with you, weirdly–but this is turning my head. And homemade wafers! Be still my heart.

  28. Emily S

    This is a blog. I expect typo-free copy when I’m reading a book, or the New York Times (though I come across typos there too), but I don’t expect it from a blog. I’d much rather that this site continue to share a high volume of quality recipes than see more ads (for example) to pay for a proofreader or see the volume of recipes decrease because of increased editing time. (And I say this as an editor by trade.) Keep it up!

  29. c

    Michelle might have phrased her comment more diplomatically, but let’s not all get too upset about it. I enjoy Deb’s style but have about given up on trying to point out typos, which I do not find refreshing. I don’t think I’ve had any disasters cooking from SK, but I have sometimes been disappointed — a lot of enthusiastic raves, and my results are fine, but not amazing. This experience is not unique to SK, and I’m happy for anyone who consistently gets great results, more power to you.

    And yes, it’s a free blog. Personally, I cringe all the more at the thought of untold numbers of readers patterning their it’s / its usage incorrectly from here (this is the error I’ve noticed most consistently, not a personal attack — and SK certainly is not unique in perpetuating such content). However, we can take it as it is, and I do appreciate Deb’s welcoming corrections and willingness to fix them.

    In any case, I hope the comment thread doesn’t turn into a war about this topic, and I applaud Libby’s generous offer.

  30. Carlin

    These look amazing. I have been on the precipice of making a banana cream pie for someone and I hadn’t found the most reliable custard recipe. Now that I see all of these components laid out, I can with confidence start my planning. I do have one,,,,err, several questions… Is there anyway this could be transformed into a pie? Would the cookies (crushed maybe?) suffice as a crust? Would a pastry crust or graham cracker crust hold up better? Any tips whatsoever? I’m obsessed with your recipes and blogs and turn to your site for 99% of the recipes I bake and cook. Any feedback would be relished. Thanks, Deb!

  31. Jill

    There are typos… and then there are typos, some stylistic or grammatical (it’s and its) and some substantive (quantities and temperatures, etc.) Paying a copyeditor (no need for a copywriter) would perhaps solve the problem, but nobody’s perfect! and let’s face it, the occasional typo gives us a chance to comment, show our stuff! and hope for a personal response. Love this blog, love the writing style… it’s all good.

  32. Sarah

    …and for those of us who hate banana, I’m thinking that some sliced strawberries or a few handfuls of raspberries and/or halved cherries would be right at home in those layers instead.

  33. indigo

    Yay! I’ve been really looking forward to this ever since you teased it ages ago. :D I was wondering, do you think plain almond milk would work in place of the whole milk? And do you have ideas for what might work in the place of the heavy cream?

  34. I’m just about to order the tulip jelly jar – it’s the one that is just shy of 8 oz, correct? Also, they come with glass lids, but I don’t see where the plastic lids are. Where did you find those? Excited to make this!

  35. Yona

    I’ve always wondered- are mason jars magical? They make food taste so much better! I know you ‘eat with your eyes’, but is there some sort of mason jar conspiracy going? Who is this Mason, anyway?

  36. nathan

    I think you used the wrong bracket with your printing tag at the end of the x.5 year ago list…
    anyway, I might make those cookies on their own soon :) they look fantastic.

  37. Lizzy

    Do you think you could freeze this? There are only 2 in my household, and sometimes we just shouldn’t eat whole desserts ourselves (note I didn’t say “couldn’t”). Maybe we’d freeze half in little individual banana pudding pops for future consumption. What do people think?

  38. Sara

    Hi Deb,

    I love your blog and your recipes so much. I have made dozens of them and am happy every time. I also really enjoy reading the writing you include with every recipe. Actually, I like it so much that I still remember the first time I ever came across your blog, even though it was years ago! It was a pumpkin pudding recipe that you made at 6AM or something after getting home from traveling and you were super sleep deprived but just wanted to make pudding alone in the kitchen! I loved that. When I think of your blog I think about what a pleasure it is to read your stories, how much it’s taught me about cooking, and how much it’s elevated the food I make and eat every day, so thank you! Can’t wait to make this recipe.

  39. deb

    Re, hiring an editor — I hate typos and it’s definitely something I’d consider. I’m rather shocked I’ve gotten away with it so long (er, 12 years; it’s held up more by the erratic logistics of my writing schedule than not believing it’s a worthwhile investment. I heart editors.) That said, I write a tremendous, tremendous amount every week on this site and in comment responses and I don’t think that there are, say, a disproportionally high number of typos for what I do, just more opportunities for them. Perhaps I’m in denial!

    P.S. This thread has made me very paranoid that I made an its/it’s typo (not error; I mean, I genuinely do know the difference) in the post and I can’t find it.

    L. — Doubling the custard; I don’t think it would be an issue here. For a lemon meringue, I’d think the same. More than doubling might become unwieldy, but I can’t think of a reason it wouldn’t work.

    Carlin — It’s often served pie-style just by laying this out in one pie dish, but it’s not as solid at the bottom as a true crust would be. You could use a graham or other crust if you wish.

    almond milk — I have not made a custard before with it but I feel like it could work. I also think that someone else will be able to weigh in better on this. My gut hunch, however, is that it’s a bit more thin than milk and thickening might go more slowly?

    Arlene — The Tulip Jelly Jars are 7.4 fluid ounces, or .925 cups. I order the lids from Weck directly; haven’t seen them in other stores.

    Yona — Heh. I think food tastes better from glass. And drinks.

    Nathan — Thank you.

    Lizzy — I’m not sure. I’ve read mixed things about freezing things thickened by cornstarch (fragile bonds and all that) but there are also a lot of egg yolks, so…

  40. CJ

    Deb, not only have you been providing wonderful free content (whatever, I’ve had some misses with a few recipes, but so what? I’ve had lots more great inspiration and good results) but you are also jaw-droppingly gracious in your responses to some of the less mannerly participants in your comments forum. Really, I am just so impressed every time you don’t react to rude and entitled commenters in the way that I know I would.

    By the way, I find potato starch to be much more neutral in flavor than corn starch, and I substitute it in every corn-starch wanting recipe. You may like to experiment. :)

  41. Marcia

    There are always mean girls . Don’t let them get you down.
    I also like the idea of banana pudding without bananas.
    I lost my taste for bananas when I was pregnant, and never got it back, but I never, ever lost my taste for pudding.

  42. Ellen N.

    Hi Deb,

    I want to weigh in with how much I appreciate your blog. I’ve made countless recipes from Smitten Kitchen and almost all of them have been smashing successes. You are truly generous to devote so much time to giving us free recipes, not to mention how patient you are with commenters who want endless advice on modifications to the recipes.

    Ellen N.

  43. Nechama

    Deb, you are the greatest (guess you’re tired of hearing this :-)) What did you do with all those egg white? Maybe someone already ask that …. This looks like one of your very best recipes. I am going to try coconut milk for this recipe, instead of the almond milk (which leaves a funny taste in mouth). It is thicker and also whiter. Also, arrowroot starch instead of the cornstarch (which is usually GMO). I’m here in Jerusalem so I have to order from Amazon; some American/Canadian companies only ship within No America.

  44. Ahh, a blast from my childhood. Thanks for that.

    And I just made banana pudding/ice cream the cheap/easy way (bananas whipped up in the food processor until airy and creamy. I think I’ll make your cookies to go with my pudding, then wen I’ve eaten all of that batch I’ll make another with your pudding. Then start my diet, LOL.

  45. Mimi

    I just got the first batch of wafers out of the oven and I love them. They have a nice crunchy texture. A bit on the sweet side maybe. I’ ll make a pudding (out of a packet, no time, no time…) with a little less sugar than normal.

    Thanks

  46. What’s the name of that phenomenon where, if you think about something or talk about it, you suddenly start seeing it everywhere? That’s totally happening with this recipe. Last night, I was pensively eating some tiramisu–yes, on a Thursday, but that’s what my husband always makes me for my birthday, which happened to be Wednesday, so it was all very above-board. Anyway, I said to him, “It just occurred to me that tiramisu is like a grown-up version of my favorite childhood dessert.” And he said, “Banana pudding” to show that he was listening to me 15 years ago or whenever I first told him that. I’m a sucker for the way vanilla wafers soften up and soak in the custard, and lady fingers soaked in rum & coffee sort of do the same thing. So then I started fantasizing about whether banana pudding itself couldn’t be made into a more grown-up version of banana pudding (because the fact that you’re eating dessert at the time is no reason you can’t daydream about the next one). I decided to sleep on it, and I woke up this morning, and this is what you had done. I’m going to call it destiny and make some… as soon as I recover from the tiramisu.

  47. I completely agree that the bland and often stale tasting vanilla wafers are a waste of the glory of homemade banana pudding. I will take your sweet sugar cookies any day. Once again Deb you have upped the classic of a classic :-)

  48. SallyO

    This style of banana pudding is one of my all-time favorite desserts. I’m trying to justify making this since it’s a bit indulgent. As far as the whole typo issue goes, it’s not an issue to me. I am a total stickler about correct grammar. I have to stop myself sometimes from becoming one of the online bitchy grammar police. Your blog has never, ever, made me cringe, or want to correct it. If there are typos, they are few and quickly fixed. If someone has an issue with it, then, too bad. You are human, and I can’t imagine the work involved it putting out this blog. Even if I’m not keen on the recipe I read every word because it’s like catching up with a friend who lives in another city. This is how most of your readers see this blog, I’m certain. In some weird way, the typos make you more human and accessible, if that makes any sense. Keep doing what you do, we love it.

  49. Hi Deb! I wasn’t a huge banana pudding fan until I started working in an office located right next to Magnolia Bakery. I’ve since fallen in love with their banana pudding, but am leaving my office job (to pursue blogging!) next week! This post comes at the perfect time – now I can happily enjoy my special occasion snack from the comfort of my living room. This looks insane and I can’t wait to try!!

  50. Leah

    Thanks for the tip on the plastic Weck tops! While I find the gasket-and-clamp method photogenic and lovely, it’s impractical as heck. (Also, thank you for breaking the “what’s pretty is best” wall of artifice that characterizes so many blogs.)

    Your response to the feedback on copy and typos was thoughtful and mature, which has a lot to do with why I like this blog and your work in general.

  51. cR

    When I calculate the calories plopped into these cunning little Weck jars, I am grateful that my taste in desserts is quite limited. All that squishy ecru dairy action gives me the willies. I like bananas straight, but interestingly, they’re often on folk’s list of noli me tangere foodstuffs! Odd me aside, most *tastebud typicals* would polish off these puddings toute suite!

  52. Casey

    I’ve been following your site religiously since you became smittenkitchen (I also read the old iVillage site). I’m saddened by the rude (and entitled, as mentioned by previous commenters) remarks about the infrequent typos. I’m so grateful for your site and your recipes, which have enriched first my college, then newlywed, now mother-of-(almost)two cooking journey. What a gift you’ve given all of us, all of these years…thank you.

  53. AnnieD

    I’ve been making Smitten Kitchen hits all week! Everyone is happy about that, including me. (Made the cabbage with sausage TWICE, actually, and the banana pudding is scheduled for the weekend.)

    And I LOVE your funny, candid, refreshing writing, Deb! Even when my inbox is crammed, I always click on your newsletter first. Both fun AND informative, what could be better?!

    (By the way, I’ve retired from my career as a professional writer, editor, and copy editor, and I have time on my hands. So I volunteer to be a proofreader, too. I can provide super-fast turnaround, especially if you give me an hour’s notice so I can clear the decks. I mean the desk! Er, the kitchen table nowadays. In any event, formal or informal style, whatever your instructions are, boss.)

  54. Nicole

    Hi, this sounds amazing!!! I wanted to make it for a birthday this weekend. But, the yield of amount of cookies (80 small cookies)…I was wondering if their was a way to half the recipe. I understand that I can split the ingredients in half but the recipe requires one egg…so I am not sure. Please let me know cause I would love to make this recipe this weekend. =)

  55. Heather

    I never comment until I’ve made a recipe but this is in response to #24 Michelle. I LOVE your blog. I often see people point out typos in the comments and I know that you are grateful and fix them quickly. The one I found today, prior to reading the comments, made me laugh (vanilla been). I laughed because I thought “Someone will point that out to Deb!”. I agree with #79 that your response was thoughtful and mature. I am thankful for you and SK. I cook one of your recipes at least once a week – we’re having mushroom marsala pasta bake tonight! And now I’m off to make vanilla bean wafers!

  56. Kate

    Oh my goodness–I closed the door to my office to cry for a moment (because of crazy expensive and painful dental work this week), and saw your email with this recipe. I’ll definitely be gnawing on this pudding and softened wafers this weekend! Thank you for the pick-me-up.

  57. Kathryn

    I’m an editor/proofreader/writer (and no, I’m not looking for work.) Do I make mistakes? All the time. (Another reason not to hire me.) Does that period belong inside the parentheses or outside? Don’t know. But my style matches yours, Deb. It’s the connection with people that counts. When they leave, they’re oh so glad they visited.

    Also, a proofreader might not catch something like the wrong baking temperature. A really really good one might. But your gentle caring readers who actually use your recipes are golden when it comes to helping you — and all of us — prepare wonderful food.

    As the saying goes, they won’t remember what you say, but how you make them feel. Which is nothing short of loved and well-cared-for.

    And another unrelated thing — I too would have to move out of an apartment over a bakery. Unless I walked up and down the stairs 10 times for every visit.

  58. Heather

    Wafers are so good! I omitted the vanilla bean. I used a two teaspoon cookie scoop. I originally planned on scooping, halving and re-rolling but I’ve got a bus stop to get too so…I left them the two tsp size. I increased the bake time to 16 minutes. They’re golden on the edges and perfectly crunchy! At two tsp size I got 35 2.5″ cookies.

  59. Lynne

    Deb, you (once again) totally read my mind! On Monday night I put together a banana pudding–albeit a totally ratchet one, using a box of Christie Nilla wafers, a can of Eagle Brand milk and a packet of Jello instant vanilla pudding. I always default to the totally ghetto, 6 ingredient recipe that is ostensibly the same as Magnolia’s Bakery’s, but this recipe, yours…omg, so so much better! Flagging this for the next time a deep yen for bananas and custard and cookies hits me. It’s really the best/worst dessert :)

  60. c

    Sorry, didn’t mean to make you paranoid about an its/it’s typo in this post — it’s just something I’ve seen more than once on the site. Glad you know the difference!

    Fair point about the volume of posts increasing the opportunities for typos — I always hate catching errors I’ve made if it’s too late to fix them.

  61. Mel

    I just have to add – I can’t believe all this nonsense about typo’s! Do people really read through a post just to find errors? And if you find a grammatical error (not talking about cooking times or something that affects a recipe) how very obnoxious to point it out!! Deb does such an AWESOME job of offering readers amazing reading and recipes. Everything is so well thought out and so heartfelt, honest, and beautifully done. I am embarrassed that this is what people choose to nitpick about. Grammatical errors. On a blog.
    Unbelievable.

    Deb we love you! Please keep doing what you’re doing!!

  62. TerriSue

    I make a pretty killer banana pudding myself but have always hated buying the vanilla wafers for it. I think I’ll be making them this weekend and I will try out your pudding recipe. Loved the video. He has got to be one of the best big brothers ever. If I tell my husband that there is a new Smitten Kitchen recipe he will ask “Is there a new picture?” We are both crazy about babies. Luckily our daughter is giving us our fourth grandchild in May.

  63. L.

    Deb. Thanks for your reply. I have been reading your blog religiously for years. I absolutely love it. Honestly, it’s one of my only sources of inspiration for cooking and baking. Your pictures are gorgeous. Thank you for making tis available to all. And thanks so much for answering my question about doubling.

  64. Lisa

    About the copy editing… I don’t know, honestly I love the homemade quality of your blog. You are so sincere and so present and so real. I always feel torn when some new development comes up, or do you reference things that’ll have to do with expanding…on the one hand, I wish you all the success in the world and hope that all good things come to you! At the same time when things feel like they are hinting at a corporate creation or something that isn’t just you, it feels different somehow. I am sure it is all about striking a balance-I am always amazed at everything you keep up with! Thank you for being you.

  65. Meghan

    This turned out so, so tasty. It was divine and well-received last night by friends, I’m loving the way the cookies have started to fall apart on night two. I gave it a little mix before serving, and my pudding is now full of fat, cookie crumb swirls.

  66. Patty

    Question on the Weck jars. I am a lover of Ball mason jars. I wasn’t familiar with Weck until your post. The price is a bit prohibitive…is there a draw over the Ball jars? I love your usual thriftiness and no nonsense approach, but the Weck jars must have something else going for them for you to use. Inquiring minds need to know :).

  67. Cynthia Rucker

    Please hire a professional copy editor–it’s time to move to the next level. I am not sure now how you are able to keep up as it is.

    For those people who offered to do it for free (!), don’t. It requires quite a bit of time to edit someone else’s copy, and, as in most things, with free copy editing you often get what you pay for:)

    I love the site, but a few ads here and there wouldn’t bother me.

  68. Allie

    I made the custard last night and took it off the heat after about 8 minutes because of the timing suggestions in the recipe, but I had a feeling it was too thin. I was right — it was still soup this morning after taking it out of the fridge. I read a few forums and ended up taking my chances by slowly heating it back up, stirring constantly, and adding a bit more cornstarch (maybe 1 tbsp or so) dissolved in some water. It worked! I might suggest changing the language of the recipe or so, to indicate that it might take more time to thicken the first time around. Still tastes amazing though, and cannot wait to assemble these later!

  69. Mindy

    Hi Deb – any thoughts on how this will keep overnight? I’m thinking about bringing to a lunch tomorrow, but I’m worried about how the puddings – especially the bananas and whipped cream – will hold up.

    1. deb

      Mindy — I intended for this to sit overnight in the fridge, especially if you like the cookies to soften a little. Even three days later, our whipped cream is fine but I do keep the jars covered, as shown. The bananas are buried so they seem as good as fresh.

  70. Ashley

    I am one of those people who have been eagerly awaiting this recipe since you first mentioned it. I made the cookies and pudding yesterday. I assembled it this morning and we ate it this afternoon. Delicious! I can honestly say it was worth the wait. I did reduce the sugar and the pudding was perfect for us. Thank you for sharing!

  71. Jessica

    As soon as this recipe popped up I knew I had to make it.

    Some reminders, to get a lot of cookies you really need to make small dough balls, much smaller than you’d expect.

    How did it turn out? My husband turned to me from the couch and said, “wow, 5 out of 5 stars.” He thinks his wife is a chef extraordinaire!

    You HAVE to make this recipe and then do what I did…. 2 ripe bananas, 3 tbl of brown sugar, 2 tbl of butter. Make caramelized bananas and put them on top. WOW!!

  72. Bonnie

    I never chime in on comments, but I really wanted to do so here. I gently disagree with comment #101 and the others that suggest a copywriter is necessary. I love your honest and authentic style of writing – it feels like we’re two friends, chatting over a cup of coffee and a plate of cookies (chocolate chip, of course). So what if there’s an occasional typo once in awhile? You’re a full-time mom of two (gorgeous) kids, a wife, a cookbook author, and a full-time blogger – and you so generously share your writing and your recipes with all of us. I’d much rather read from your blog than from a perfectly manicured, soulless one. Love you Deb, and keep doing what you’re doing.

  73. Gray

    Hello Deb, I do so love your site and recipes and use them as a reference regularly, your cookbook too!! I think your red velvet recipe is the most popular thing I make!

    I’m all set to make the banana puddings for a dinner party this week but am a bit curious about the scoop. I have a 2 teaspoon size but despite various googling, the smallest I can find is a 1.5 teaspoon or .25 ounces. Any suggestions on finding the 1 teaspoon size you used? I want to be sure my wafers fit into my jars!

    Thanks for sharing your wonderful recipes!

    1. deb

      Gray — Thanks, actually, I’d meant to look it up. According to Amazon, I bought this scoop in 2009. It says it’s 1.5 teaspoons, so it must be what you found, too. (But I could barely get more than 1 teaspoon liquid in when I checked the volume from another reliable measuring spoon.) I broke up my wafers a lot, not for the bottom layer but for the ones above it because two would have been too wide and one, too skimpy.

  74. Helen

    Deb – screw the people telling you need a copywriter. I like your style and you have very few errors that actually affect the making of a dish. In any case, if you are used to cooking those small factual errors are usually obvious to us readers. Keep on trucking.

  75. Jen

    We almost never have dessert in my house, but this weekend I planned a meal around this pudding. It was delicious and so easy. Thanks for the tips on timing. The wafers are my new favorite sugar cookie and I think I just wrecked my appetite for dinner by eating too many of them.

  76. Amy P

    I’m in the don’t-worry-about-little-typos camp. Besides, if anything is confusing, we’re all here to (hopefully politely) ask for clarification! I’ve been reading your blog since 2006, which means you are one of the first blogs I ever followed steadily, and the only one that’s stuck the entire time. Thanks for all you do!

    PS – ANNA! She is so cute. My oldest daughter’s middle name is Anna and I sometimes (okay, often – don’t tell her) regret not making it her first name.

  77. margot

    Made this in an 8×8″ the other night. I was worried that making the wafers from scratch wouldn’t be worth it since forming the tiny balls was a little tedious, but the consensus was “TOTALLY WORTH IT.”

    Banana pudding is one of my very favorite desserts and this recipe will be my go-to from now on (and I will def make the wafers when I have the time.)

  78. Lizzy

    I made this the other day in an 8×8 pan. The only thing I would change is to make more whipped cream. Although, “more whipped cream” is often the answer to life’s questions.

  79. Bridgit

    I love banana pudding and our monthly dinner w friends who various diets including gf and vegetarian. I’m thinking I might make this with trader joes gf ginger snaps, because puddings + bananas + ginger AND easy…
    Also, I love reading your rare typo: your blog has such a clear, delightful voice, and is generally so grammatically fabulous that a typo, to my mind, adds a little extra humanity on top of your awesomeness. By all means, hire a copy editor if you so desire, but I suspect they won’t have much to do, knowing how high your standards are for yourself. Thanks for all the great recipes and the jovial insight as well.

  80. Maria

    You acknowledge up front that the wafers aren’t really like Nilla wafers and I get it… but when I made these yesterday, my husband was disappointed in _how_ different they were but said he was sure they’d taste good in coffee… and I had an epiphany. They need to be more biscotti textured [but only cooked once, unocotti?] with a little wetter dough.

    Today I made another batch with:
    1 C sugar
    4 T butter [I don’t put butter in my biscotti, but I wanted these more tender]
    3 eggs
    1 T vanilla
    2 cups flour [I use white whole wheat and oat flours, ’cause that’s how I roll]
    1 tsp baking powder
    1/2 tsp kosher salt

    Even though they were tiny I baked them for almost 20 minutes at 350F
    [I lost track of how many ‘2 minutes more’ I gave them to brown]

    And they’re tasty like yours and much closer to Nilla texture, but I might add a little more butter next time. The recipe is definitely a keeper.

    [I also made banana-banana pudding by nuking 4 bananas until gooey, adding enough milk to equal 3.5 cups and pureeing it with all the other to-be-cooked pudding ingredients. It’s crazy good, but the bananas made the pudding a grayish color that isn’t so lovely.]

    In sum, I took your recipe and then did it my way. Thanks for the inspiration!

  81. I’m a sucker for banana recipes lately, so combine that with some pudding and I was downright nearly salivating at not only the picture I saw in my feed, but the title alone! Will definitely have to give these a try post haste!

  82. Aimee

    I’m mid-recipe. My custard did not set at all. I’d initially whisked for 8 or 9 minutes (longer than the 4-7 in the directions) but it just never thickened. I was worried about burning it, so into the fridge it went. When I discovered it was still soupy four hours later, I decided to heat it back up, add a bit more cornstarch, and see what would happen. It did thicken, so now I’m waiting with bated breath as it cools in the fridge. I hope I can get it figured out before tomorrow – I’d intended it as a Valentine’s Day treat for my husband (he loves all things custard). Glad I followed your advice and started a day ahead!

  83. Elizabeth

    This looks really very yummy. I am not a fan of custard but I found that your recipe ties it all together very nicely. I love eating bananas and so when I found your recipe, I was thrilled. Now I finally have a recipe that I can enjoy with your easy-to-follow steps.

  84. Aimee

    An update: after I reheated my custard (after it failed to set), it thickened properly. This was a slightly involved recipe, but the results were impressive! I was impressed at how the custard took on the banana-y flavor and would definitely second your recommendation about letting it sit in the fridge a bit after assembling. My coworkers were also very impressed with the leftover homemade ‘Nilla wafers I brought to work today!

  85. Margy

    For the past few years I have gone on pudding benders whenever the temperature drops below zero, which happens a fair amount in Minneapolis. Something about the promise of sweet creaminess makes the weather bearable and I race home to get to it. Wanting to change things up from the usual chocolate, vanilla and butterscotch, I made this last week. I prepared it as written, except I caramelized the whipped cream to make it a little less sweet (and since I was already making some of the components ahead of time, I figured what’s one more?). The slight bitterness from the whipped cream offset the sweetness of the pudding perfectly. So now I have another recipe to add to my pudding bender file. Thanks, Deb.

  86. Sowmya

    Hey Deb,

    I made this last weekend and it was a hit with everyone who tried it, thank you! But personally I thought the taste of the custard was a bit off. The custard wouldn’t thicken even after stirring for while, so I added about a tablespoon of AP flour. I did check that my cornstarch was fresh and it doesn’t work well when we use it in other recipes. Do you have any thoughts? My vanilla extract is from Trader Joes and not homemade.

    For anyone else trying this and wants to have it done quickly, I used vanilla wafers from Trader Joes since I couldn’t find the beans and loved them and they use real vanilla beans in their wafers, so am assuming they taste close to the ones made in this recipe.

    1. deb

      Sowmya — Homemade vs. storebought vanilla doesn’t matter at all. Did it set better when chilled? How long did you give it in the fridge? And the flavor — can you tell me more how it was off?

  87. Tracy

    I just made this and Holy Manoly! This is the most straight up flawless custard recipe ever. Best I have ever had/made. Muey Importante to have a MEDIUM heat, and to get a real simmer while stirring constantly for it to thicken. I did not have rum, so I used a good whiskey, but not a whole TBL, and it was amazing. Hands down my go to custard recipe from now on.
    Thank you!!

  88. Sowmya

    Sure, the custard did thicken after I added the AP flour and it had a good consistency after i chilled it for about 4 hours. But I felt that it had a weird after taste, kind of a bad box-mix :) am sorry am making a mess of describing it.. Haha.. I will definitely give this another try without AP flour and a good brand of vanilla extract and corn starch( I was using Argo’s).. Thank you!

  89. Hi Deb,
    If I get my act together, my husband will have these as a surprise when he comes home from a business trip. Banana pudding is one of his favorites from growing up, and I’ve only made it for him once. The homemade cookies take this up a notch. :) Thank you again for your wonderful recipes!
    (I’ll be making the peanut butter chocolate cake for his birthday next week. He is over the moon that I found what he considers the perfect birthday cake recipe!)

  90. Elise

    The banana pudding is delightful, although it is a lot of work.

    I also made lemon curd sandwich cookies with the wafers, the curd seeped into and softened the cookies nicely.