Tuesday, June 1, 2010

The best Banana Pudding ever!

I love Paula Deen. Good southern food is definitely my weakness and there is something to admire about a woman who loves butter as much as Paula. One of my favorite special occasion recipes for potlucks and family gatherings is Paula Deen’s Not Yo’ Mama’s Banana Pudding. Every time I make it there are RAVE reviews. A few years ago my father in law called a month before his birthday to request that I make not just one but two batches for his upcoming party so he could take a whole one home just for himself.

I won the grand prize at my best friend’s Valentine’s Day recipe contest this past February and even got a fancy trophy!

The only ingredient change I make is substituting banana flavored pudding mix instead of vanilla in Ms. Deen’s party.



Ingredients:

  •  1 12-ounce container frozen whipped topping thawed, or equal amount sweetened whip
  • 1 14-ounce can sweetened condensed milk
  • 1 8-ounce package cream cheese, softened
  • 2 cup milk
  • 1 5-ounce box instant French vanilla (I substitute banana) pudding
  • 6-8 bananas, sliced
  • 2 bags Pepperidge Farm Chessmen cookies

Directions
Line the bottom of a 13x9x2-inch dish with cookies.  Slice bananas into 1/2 inch slices and layer on top of cookies.  

Combine milk and pudding mix and blend well using a handheld electric mixer or stand mixer.  Personally I prefer using my stand mixer but then I love my KitchenAid.  In another bowl, combine softened cream cheese and sweetened condensed milk until smooth.  Make sure there are no lumps.  Gently fold the whipped topping into the cream cheese mixture. Then add pudding mixture into cream cheese mixture folding gently until well blended.  Pour the mixture over the cookies and bananas.  I add another layer of sliced bananas and then cover with the remaining cookies. Make sure the design is facing up on the cookies for a finished look.  Refrigerate until ready to serve. I find it helpful to make in a baking pan that I have a cover for rather than just using plastic wrap. 

Recipe courtesy Paual Deen. Directions modified slightly based on how I prepare the recipe.

A few tips: The cream cheese must be completely soft or it will not blend properly. Also the whipped topping must be soft, I generally move it from the freezer to the fridge the night before I’m going to make it. Although this recipe still tastes good for 2-3 days the bananas start to brown and the cookies soften so for best presentation make just 2-6 hours before service. It does feed a lot but people love it so plan on plenty for seconds.

Variations:
(More) Diabetic Friendly: You can substitute sugar-free pudding, whipped topping and skim milk to make this lower in sugar. Since I have a diabetic spouse I try to find ways to reduce the sugar whenever possible. Although there is not a sugar-free option for the cookies or condensed milk the changes I listed above reduce the sugar and have little to no impact on the taste.

Strawberry Cheesecake Macaroons: Substitute vanilla pudding for cheesecake pudding. Substitute cookies for coconut macaroons. Substitute bananas with sliced strawberry (make sure to drain). You can also substitute coconut pudding for the vanilla pudding and use the chessman cookies.
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