Banana cream pie and banana pudding are very similar desserts. Both have a vanilla custard base that is studded with slices of fresh bananas. Both have light whipped cream or meringue toppings. Both use some sort of cookie base – a graham cracker crust (although pastry is fine, too) for the pie and ‘Nilla wafer cookies (small, dry vanilla cookies) to give them some substance. The point here is that the recipe is adaptable, and if you tinker around with it a bit, you’ll end up with your own version of these creamy, banana desserts.
These Individual Banana Puddings start out with a no-bake graham cracker crust that is pushed into the bottom of a small ramekin. Banana slices are layered on top of the crust, then are topped off with a creamy vanilla custard and a layer of fluffy meringue. They’re easy to prep and easy to serve, and they look pretty darn cute as stand ins for a bigger banana cream pie. The pudding is made in a few minutes on the stovetop and starts with a mixture of milk and sweetened condensed milk that is thickened with flour and egg. The sweetened condensed milk gives the pudding a rich, caramelized flavor which goes well with all those bananas.
You can use any smallish dish to make these if you don’t have straight-sided ramekins. I would stick with an 8-oz ramekin because the banana slices get bulky and a 6-oz ramekin won’t give you much room for the custard (unless you don’t mind small servings!). I made 8 little puddings with this recipe, but a smaller or larger serving dish (or piling on extra bananas!) might change the number of finished puddings a bit. If you have leftover custard or simply don’t need eight mini pies, pour it into dessert glasses and just enjoy it as a nice vanilla pudding.
Individual Banana Puddings
1 cup graham cracker crumbs
2 tbsp sugar
3 tbsp butter, melted
2-3 medium bananas, sliced
1/3 cup all purpose flour
1/4 tsp salt
2 1/2 cups milk (low fat is fine)
1 14-oz can sweetened condensed milk
2 large egg yolks
2 tsp vanilla extract
4 large egg whites, room temperature
1/3 cup sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
Preheat oven to 350F.
In a medium sized bowl, stir together graham cracker crumbs, sugar and melted butter until mixture resembles wet sand. Place about 2 tbsp in the bottom of each of eight 8-oz ramekins. Press crumbs firmly into an even layer.
Divide sliced bananas evenly into prepared crusts, making a layer 1-2 slices thick in each.
Refrigerate crusts while preparing filling.
In a large saucepan, whisk together flour, salt, milk and sweetened condensed milk until smooth. Whisk in egg yolks and vanilla extract. Bring mixture to a simmer over medium heat, stirring frequently, until mixture starts to thicken. Stir slowly but continuously, cooking mixture for 1-2 additional minutes as it thickens. Pour through a strainer into a large measuring cup or bowl with a pour spout.
Divide custard evenly over bananas. If you opted to use a lot of bananas in your puddings, you may find you have extra custard (which can be chilled and eaten as-is).
In a medium bowl, beat egg whites to soft peaks, gradually adding in 1/3 cup sugar and beating until all sugar has been dissolved. Beat in vanilla extract.
Spoon the meringue on top of the banana puddings and place on a baking sheet.
Bake for 15 minutes, until meringues are set and golden brown.
Serve immediately or chill until ready to serve.
Puddings can also be topped with whipped cream instead of a meringue.