Ask a Nashvillian for the best banana pudding in town, and if he knows his stuff, he’ll tell you Arnold’s Country Kitchen. The restaurant’s version, scooped into small bowls at the cold end of the food line at the meat-and-three, isn’t deconstructed or whipped into a shake or formed into cheesecake. It’s just a perfect traditional banana pudding chock-full of bananas and wafers that have lost a bit of their crispness. This version, adapted from the recipe on a 1970s-era Nabisco Nilla Wafers box by home cook Barbara Davenport, reminds me of that Arnold’s classic.
- Yield: 10 Servings
- 1 cup (200 g) sugar
- ⅓ cup plus 2 tablespoons (55 g) all-purpose flour
- Dash salt
- 6 large eggs, separated, at room temperature
- 3 cups (720 ml) whole milk
- ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 teaspoon whiskey
- ¼ teaspoon cinnamon
- 1 (11-ounce/311-g) box vanilla wafers
- 5 to 6 fully ripe bananas, sliced
- ¼ teaspoon cream of tartar
- Preheat the oven to 425°F (220°C).
- In the top of a double boiler, combine ¾ cup (150 g) of the sugar with the flour and salt.
- In a separate bowl, mix together the 6 egg yolks and milk; beat slightly. Add the mixture to the double boiler and cook, uncovered, over boiling water, stirring constantly until it has thickened. If it is lumpy, beat it with a whisk. Reduce the heat to simmering and cook, stirring occasionally, for about 5 minutes. Remove the custard from the heat and stir in the vanilla, whiskey, and cinnamon.
- In a 1½- to 2-quart (1.4- to 2-L) baking dish, spread a small amount of custard on the bottom and cover it with a layer of vanilla wafers. Top with a layer of sliced bananas. Pour about a third of the remaining custard over the bananas, and continue to layer wafers, bananas, and custard, ending with custard.
- In a metal bowl, beat the egg whites and cream of tartar until they are stiff but not dry. Add the remaining sugar a little at a time until stiff peaks form. Spoon the meringue on top of the pudding, spreading it to cover the entire surface. Bake the pudding for 5 to 8 minutes or until the meringue turns golden brown. Let cool then transfer to the refrigerator. Serve the dessert chilled.