It is well-known that one of Elvis’s favorite foods was a deep fried peanut butter and banana sandwich. It’s a great combination of salty and sweet, and you get a nice contrast between the creamy filling and a crisp exterior when the sandwich is deep fried. Peanut butter and banana is always a good combination and to celebrate Elvis’s birthday this year, I decided to whip up a dessert version of that famous sandwich. Elvis’s Banana Pudding is a twist on a classic Southern dessert that is typically made by layering together vanilla pudding, vanilla wafer cookies and banana slices. This version uses a decadent peanut butter pudding to bring just the right salty-sweet contrast to every bite.
This pudding starts with homemade Peanut Butter Pudding. This pudding is rich and thick, thanks to a generous amount of peanut butter that is stirred in to it. Unless you are a serious peanut butter lover, this pudding might be a little too rich on its own, if you were to simply dig in with a spoon. Fortunately, that richness contrasts perfectly with the sweet, fresh banana slices that are layered both above and below the pudding in individual dessert cups. It’s the perfect contrast of sweet and savory, and the fresh fruit really tames the richness of the pudding.
Since traditional banana puddings are made with vanilla wafer cookies, I added a crust to this pudding to create a textural contrast within the ultra-creamy dessert. I used a no-bake graham cracker crust that adds a hint of crunch without taking away from the overall richness of the pudding. If your dessert cups (or ramekins) are oven-safe, you could bake the graham cracker crust before assembling the dessert, but the bananas and pudding bring in so much moisture that the finished texture ends up being almost the same as it does with the no-bake crust, so you can save yourself a little time by not baking.
The single-serving cups give the desserts an elegant look for entertaining, but they also create the perfect portion control if you want to indulge yourself while you watch old Elvis flicks in honor of the King’s birthday. If you noticed the red Hawaiian shirt in the background of this photo, it’s not there because there is any element of this dessert that is particularly Hawaiian (though bananas do grow in tropical climates). The red shirt is the same pattern worn by Elvis in the movie Blue Hawaii, which is one of my own favorite Elvis films.
Elvis’s Banana Pudding
1 cup graham cracker crumbs
2 tbsp sugar
3 tbsp butter, melted and cooled
3-4 large bananas
1 batch Peanut Butter Pudding (recipe below)
whipped cream, for topping
In a small bowl, stir together graham cracker crumbs, sugar and melted butter until mixture resembles wet sand. Place about 3 tbsp in the bottom of each of four 8-oz ramekins. Press crumbs firmly into an even layer. Refrigerate crusts for 20 minutes.
Thinly slice the bananas into rounds and make a layer 1-2 slices thick in each ramekin, on top of the graham cracker crust.
Divide pudding evenly over the banana layers.
Top pudding with another layer of bananas, then spoon whipped cream on and serve.
Peanut Butter Pudding
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup cornstarch
2 cups milk
1/2 cup creamy peanut butter
1/4 tsp salt
2 tsp vanilla extract
In a medium saucepan, whisk together sugar, cornstarch and milk until smooth. Cook over medium heat, whisking regularly, until mixture comes to a simmer and begins to thicken and bubble. Cook, whisking constantly, for about 1 additional minute.
Remove from heat and whisk in peanut butter, salt and vanilla extract. Transfer to a shallow bowl and press a piece of plastic wrap on top of the pudding. Refrigerate until cold.
Makes about 2 1/2 cups.