4. The Most Balanced Recipe with an Emphasis on the Pudding: Rodney Scott’s Banana Pudding
As the recipe’s headnote states, Rodney Scott’s time-pressed mother sometimes leaned on instant pudding mix for her banana pudding. So when creating a banana pudding recipe for his barbecue restaurants, he asked for help from his friend Lisa Marie Donovan, famed pastry chef and author.
The recipe starts with a straightforward vanilla pudding made by whisking together sugar, flour, salt, egg yolks, a whole egg, and some cream; you then add hot milk and vanilla to temper this mixture and then cook it until thickened. As that mixture cools to room temperature, you’ll make a chantilly cream by beating together heavy cream, powdered sugar, and vanilla extract until stiff peaks form. Assembly calls for a single layer of purchased vanilla wafers, all of the pudding, the sliced bananas, and the chantilly cream.
What you get when you layer the dessert this way is a thicker pudding zone between one layer of cookies and one layer of bananas — placing more emphasis on the deliciously smooth, rich, creamy custard. While Parton’s pudding is enriched with butter, this one is made richer with cream for a silkier effect. The lightly sweetened chantilly cream is a lovely finishing touch, making the dessert feel more balanced and less cloyingly sweet than some of the other versions. There’s a note at the end of the recipe explaining that this layering strategy is what they use at the restaurant, but you could add another layer of cookies and bananas if you’d like. To me, though, the way it is is perfect, rewarding you with a more pronounced pudding presence in every delicious bite.