My parents held an early 4th of July bash for some friends this weekend, and i was oh-so-impressed with their desserts. The first was delicious banana pudding, ready to eat in individual mason jars. The recipe is from the great cookbook Screen Doors & Sweet Tea by Martha Hall Foose (a fellow Mississippian).
You might enjoy whipping this up for your Independence Day guests as well! Here is the recipe:
3/4 cup sugar
1/3 cup flour
1/4 tsp salt
4 large egg yolks
2 cups whole milk
1/2 vanilla bean, split, or 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
freshly grated nutmeg
1/2-inch piece of cinnamon stick
Quality vanilla wafers
4 medium bananas, peeled and sliced
4 large egg whites
1/4 tsp cream of tartar
5 TBS sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
In a heavy-bottomed saucepan over medium heat, bring 2 inches of water to a boil. In a large stainless steel bowl, whisk together the sugar, flour and salt. Whisk in the egg yolks, and then the milk, vanilla bean, nutmeg, and cinnamon. Place the bowl over the pan of water and cook, stirring until the mixture is thick and coats the back of a spoon, 12 to 15 minutes. Remove from the heat. Remove the cinnamon and vanilla bean. If using vanilla extract, stir it in now. While the pudding is still warm, layer the cookies, bananas, and pudding in 1/2 pint canning jars or ramekins.
Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
MAKE THE TOPPING
Whip the egg whites in an electric mixer on medium speed until frothy. Add the cream of tartar and slowly increase the speed as the egg whites become opaque. Add the sugar 1 TBS at a time. Add the vanilla extract. whip until the whites form a soft peak. Spoon the meringue over the warm puddings, sealing it to the sides of the jars.
Bake the puddings for 4 minutes, or until the meringue is puffed and brown. Cool on a rack for 20 minutes, and then refrigerate for 2 hours, or until you can't stand it anymore!