Banana Pudding

1 cup milk
1 cup heavy cream
1/2 vanilla bean
6 egg yolks
1/3 cup granulated sugar
2 tablespoon all-purpose flour
pinch salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
6 egg whites, at room temperature
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup granulated sugar
pinch of cream of tartar
2 cups angel food cake, 1-inch cubes, lightly toasted, or vanilla wafers
2 bananas, 1/2 inch thick slices

  1. In a nonreactive pan, combine the milk, ½ cup (4 ounces, 115 ml) cream, and the vanilla bean. Heat to just below a simmer, cover, and remove from heat; let set for 15 minutes to develop the vanilla flavor. Remove vanilla bean, wipe off, and retain for another use.
  2. Whisk together the egg yolks, sugar, flour, salt and cream of tartar, until smooth.
  3. Whisk the warm milk into the egg yolk mixture, return to the heat, and cook until the custard thickens and begins to bubble. Cook for 1 minute after the custard comes to a boil. (It should be thick at this point.)
  4. Strain through a fine-meshed sieve into a bowl and immediately whisk in the remaining cream and the vanilla.
  5. Preheat the oven to 400°F (205°C).
  6. Beat the egg whites with cream of tartar until they begin to froth and add the vanilla. Continue beating until they make soft peaks. Gradually add the sugar a tablespoon at a time, and beat until egg whites are moist and very glossy.
  7. Spoon a thin layer of custard onto the bottom of a 4-cup ovenproof baking container. Top with layer of cake cubes and sliced bananas. Spoon more custard over and continue layering, ending with custard on top.
  8. Top with meringue, making sure there is a good seal at the edges of the baking pan.
  9. Bake for 5 minutes, until golden brown. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Chef: Great presentation; "smurf hats" are cute, another option is to pipe mirengue, can see the vanilla bean which is nice, pudding is the right texture and doesn't fall off spoon, Overall flavor is good, this is a"kick-ass dessert."

Personal: I like that you can taste all the layers of flavor in the custard and cookies and meringue. The presentation was fun and overall each layer had the right texture and flavor, overall it was a good dessert. An idea for presentation is to add a cookie alongside the garnish bananas to give the consumer a crispy contrast to the soft dessert.

Lessons Learned: 
  • Make ahead: You can make pudding ahead of time, but not poured over cookies because they will get mushy.
  • Layering: when making the pudding, make sure it sets up properly before going in the individual baking cups and starting to layer.
  • Meringue: Adding cream of tartar to egg whites will help them firm up better. Also, they work better if done with a mixer instead of by hand. By piping or dipping the knife in the meringue, you can make peaks to grown slightly and make them look nicer.