Sometimes, planning and preparing for an event is as much fun as the event itself. When I see YouTube videos of amazing father/daughter wedding dance routines, I smile not only at the cleverness of the routine, but also at the thought that this dad must’ve spent hours with his cherished daughter, practicing and perfecting his steps. (You really must check out this one – it’s very amusing!)
But I digress! What I really wanted to tell you about is the upcoming National Banana Pudding Festival, held the first week of October in Centerville, TN. And how I’m already having fun with it.
Because, you see, one part of the National Banana Pudding Festival is the National Banana Pudding Cook-off. As soon as I saw this, I just knew that I had to be a part of it. But not by myself – I had to challenge my sisters-in-law to a family Banana Pudding showdown in preparation for my entry.
So it happened that, last Saturday, after returning from a fun (but hot!) day at the Americana Barbecue Festival in Franklin, TN – I spent my evening whipping up not one, not two, but THREE batches of banana pudding. Which recipe would show true originality AND a delicious combination of flavors?
Recipe $3 – Summer Sunshine Banana Pudding – Lemon curd and bananas layered with lemon pound cake and white chocolate pudding
The big showdown was Sunday, and it was a great excuse for an end-of-summer family get-together. As we finished our lunch, we marked paper plates so that our taste-testers would know whose banana pudding they were trying. Each person tried five different puddings! And we all agreed that all the puddings were as delicious as they were different.
In the end, top honors went to one of my sisters-in-law – thanks in part to lobbying by my nephew, the future campaign director! But I got great feedback on my recipes, and have decided that I’ll be sending in Recipe #2 (shown below) to try to gain entry to the upcoming contest. I just couldn’t resist, after recently visiting Elvis Presley’s birthplace in Tupelo, MS, for inspiration! So, here’s hoping that they think the following recipe is promising enough to get me to come to Centerville to cook for the finals!
Tupelo Boy Banana Pudding
One box vanilla wafers
2 pkg. cook & serve vanilla pudding mix
4 cups milk
7-8 medium-sized ripe bananas
½ cup barrel-aged honey*
1 15-oz. container natural creamy peanut butter, stirred (room temperature)
½ cup heavy whipping cream (cold)
1 Tbl. confectioners sugar
¼ cup honey roasted peanuts
½ cup crisp cooked bacon
Cook the pudding mix with the milk according to package directions. When pudding has thickened, remove from heat, cover, and set aside.
Peel bananas and put into a large bowl; add honey. Using a potato masher, mash bananas and honey together until slightly lumpy. Set aside.
Line the bottom of a 2-quart casserole dish with vanilla wafers. Spoon in about 1/3 of the banana/honey mixture; spread evenly. Using a spoon, drizzle about 1/3 of the peanut butter, so that each bite will have some peanut butter in it. Ladle in about ¼ (2 cups) of the still-warm pudding. Repeat with a layer of vanilla wafers, a layer of banana/honey, and a layer of peanut butter. On the second layer of pudding, use half of the remaining pudding (about 3 cups). Repeat with another layer of vanilla wafers. Use the remaining banana/honey, peanut butter, and pudding. Set in refrigerator to finish cooling.
Chop peanuts and bacon; set aside.
Using a hand mixer, whip the cream until frothy; add sugar and continue to whip until firm. Spread the whipped cream as the top layer of the banana pudding casserole. Sprinkle with chopped peanuts and bacon to garnish.
When your guests tell you how remarkable your banana pudding is, be sure to tell them, “Thank you verry much!”
*I discovered TruBee barrel aged honey, a product of Arrington, TN, at the barbecue festival. Its distinctive flavor was just the thing to bring a true Tennessee flair to my banana pudding.