Hand down, my favorite dessert is banana pudding. No one can make it like my Grandma Marilyn used to. Oh, some have tried, but all have fallen short of her pudding's glory.
To that end, I've tried a lot of banana pudding and attempted to make a lot of banana pudding over the years. Although I wasn't able to get her recipe before she passed away, this is the closest I've come to hers and the most magnificent pudding that I myself have ever made. Better yet? There's absolutely no cooking involved. Yes, friends, here's another recipe culled from my file of "Yummy Things That Unfairly Make Me Look Like a Culinary Genius":
- One 8oz. package of cream cheese- IMPORTANT! Must be room temperature and do not substitute neufchatel or low-fat cream cheese.
- One 14 oz. can of sweetened condensed milk
- One 5oz package of instant vanilla pudding mix- IMPORTANT! Do not get banana flavored pudding, non-instant pudding, or sugar-free pudding. Regular vanilla is what you want. Trust me.
- Three cups of cold milk (whole milk is preferred)
- One teaspoon of vanilla extract (I like Madagascar vanilla best, but other varieties will do)
- One 8oz. container of thawed, whipped dessert topping (if you're in a hurry use regular Cool Whip or a low-fat alternative, otherwise whip up your own earlier in the day)
- Four ripe bananas, sliced into super thick coins (the bananas can be a little overripe and spotty, but don't use even slightly green bananas at all!)
- 1/2 box of Nilla Wafers (I would not recommend getting the generic brand. One time I tried a store brand and they didn't soften well)
Serve in either a trifle dish (pretty!) or a 9x13 glass dish (traditional).
- In a big mixing bowl, beat the room temperature cream cheese until it's fluffy. Now make the yummy "goop" by adding in and beating in the condensed milk, pudding mix, cold milk, and vanilla extract until the whole thing is clump-free. Watch out! The cream cheese tends to lump up if it's a little cooler than room temp.
- Using a spatula, fold in just half the container of whipped cream.
- Line the bottom of your dish with one layer of vanilla wafers.
- Add one layer of banana coins.
- Pour the goop on top, using a spatula to keep the mixture even.
- If you'd like, add another layer of cookies and bananas in the middle. Top with more goop.
- Add the remainder of the whipped topping on top. If you want, add smashed up wafer crumbles to the top or decorate with more whole cookies.
- Chill and chill (the pudding and yourself) for at least 45 minutes. The longer y'all chill, the softer your cookies become.
- Serve in individual dishes, with one or two whole cookies on top or side for presentation bonus points.
- Eat and rejoice that you made this bad boy in honor of good cooking grandmas everywhere... without even cooking a single thing.