Tuesday, October 25, 2011

A Comfortable Nursery Dessert

There are some things straight out of our American childhood - mac n' cheese, tomato soup, grilled cheese sandwiches, twinkies and good old chocolate chip cookies - that everyone you talk to has grown up with.  We tend to call these comfort foods. 

Nobody doesn’t like comfort food. It’s the perfect soothing way to end a rough day. It’s regressive yet satisfying: one bite and you’re a kid again. There’s a reason the British call this stuff "nursery food"—meaning bangers-and-mash, beef stew, shepherd’s pie. Like mobiles and lullabies, traditional comfort foods are meant to make you fall asleep as soon as possible, with generous amounts of fat and refined sugars. They’re the indulgent foods we probably shouldn’t crave but do—a guilty pleasure, the culinary equivalent of listening to a Barry Manilow album. They’re our silly little reward at the end of a stressful day.

Well, this has been an especially stressful week for me and when I ran across this recipe in my Mom's old Betty Crocker cookbook I felt the urge to find a way to create this for myself this week. Banana Pudding.

Mom used to make the pudding from scratch and serve it while slightly warm.  If you need to recreate that effect with my version, feel free to warm the pudding briefly in the microwave.

A new convenience food at the grocery store now makes this a simple and tasty weeknight treat.  Well, OK, new for me....my friends with kids are all too familiar with pudding packs, but they're something that never crossed my threshold until very recently.  Bringing home pudding swathed in plastic always seemed like a really bad idea.  As someone who seldom buys anything wrapped in plastic, these seem like a crazy idea to me.  But today when I had an hour to kill waiting for my prescriptions, I was wandering aimlessly down the grocery aisles and managed to land in front of the pudding pack section. 

There is an incredible array of flavors available in pudding these days - cinnamon bun, caramel, blueberry cheesecake - and the one that struck my eye - banana.  With a banana sitting on the counter at home and a quick stop over to the cookie section for a box of vanilla wafers, a comforting nursery dessert was only moments away.

For my friends with kids, you may be making this already.  For the rest of us, this is a bit of a jog down memory lane and now made especially easy for a single serving.


1 pudding pack - banana flavor
1/3 of a fresh banana
7 vanilla wafers
1 teaspoon melted butter

Reserve 2 wafers for garnish and put 5 vanilla wafers into a plastic bag and crush to a fine crumb.  Combine the crumbs with the melted butter and mix well. 

Put buttered crumbs in the bottom of a dessert dish.

Slice the banana into 1/4 inch slices.  Reserve 3 or 4 slices and cut the others into quarters.  Mix the smaller banana pieces into the banana pudding.  Pile the pudding mixture over the crumbs.

Garnish with reserved banana slices and vanilla wafers.  Eat and be transported back to your childhood for a little soothing R&R.

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