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Recipe: Kevin's Decadent Banana Pudding

Find out how to make the heartbreak curing banana pudding Kevin Gillespie's grandmother perfected.


2 cups of half-and-half
2 cups of whole milk
1 Vanilla bean, split
1 tsp of Vanilla extract
8 large eggs
2 cups of sugar
1 cup of all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon of salt
6 tablespoons of butter, cut into chunks
1 store-bought loaf of pound cake
1/2 cup of strong brewed coffee
8 to 9 very ripe bananas, peeled and cut into 1/2 inch coins
1/2 teaspoon of cream of tartar

1. Preheat the oven to 375°F.
2. In a large saucepan, combine the half-and-half, milk, vanilla bean and ½ teaspoon of the vanilla extract and heat over medium-high heat until bubbles start forming around the edges of the pan, about 4 minutes. Pull the pan from the heat. Fish out the vanilla bean and use a paring knife to scrape the vanilla beans and pulp from the pod into the milk mixture. Discard the pod.
3. Separate the egg yolks from the whites using the three-bowl method: one small bowl to separate the eggs over, one large bowl for the yolks, and a third bowl to collect all of the whites. Crack one egg at a time, straining the white into the small separating bowl and placing the yolk in the yolk bowl. If the yolk did not break, transfer the white to the white collection bowl. This method ensures that no broken yolk gets into the main batch of whites. If you break a yolk, you’ll only lose 1 white instead of the whole batch. For meringue, it’s imperative to have whites with absolutely no yolk at all or the whites won’t whip up properly.
4. Add 2 cups of the sugar to the yolks and whisk until very thick and light yellow, about 1 minute. Pour the flour into a strainer over the yolk bowl and shake the flour into the yolks. Whisk the flour and salt into the egg yolks until smooth. Slowly whisk ¾ cup of the milk mixture into the yolk mixture to gradually warm the eggs so they won’t scramble; this is called tempering. Whisk all the yolk mixture into the milk mixture and return the pan to medium heat. Cook the mixture until it thickens, about 8 minutes, stirring nonstop. There will be some lumps, which is fine. Remove the pan from the heat and whisk in the butter, one piece at a time, until it’s all incorporated. Blend the pudding with an immersion blender for 1 minute. Press the pudding through a fine-mesh strainer to remove any remaining lumps.
5. Slice the pound cake ¼ inch thick and arrange the slices in a single layer on a baking sheet. Toast in the oven until they are lightly browned, about 6 minutes. Flip the slices and toast again until lightly browned, about 4 minutes more. Remove the toasted cake from the oven and brush both sides with the coffee.
6. Spoon about 1½ cups of the pudding into the bottom of a 2-quart deep casserole dish. Layer the pound cake and bananas on top of the pudding and repeat the process, ending with a layer of pudding.
7. In a small bowl, whisk the remaining ½ cup sugar and cream of tartar to combine. Whip the egg whites in a mixer fitted with a whisk attachment until they are thick and frothy, about 2 minutes. With the mixer running, slowly add the sugar mixture to the egg whites. Add the remaining 1 teaspoon vanilla extract and beat until the mixture holds soft peaks when the whisk is lifted.
8. Mound the meringue on top of the pudding and spread to completely cover and seal at the edges. Using the back of a spoon, swirl the meringue into peaks. Bake until the peaks are browned, about 5 minutes. The top should be brown while the center of the meringue stays soft and creamy. Let the dish cool for at least 15 minutes. Serve warm.


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