My Favorite Redneck Desserts in the Whole World
You know, I watch all of these fancy shmansy cooking shows once in a while and they all feature, at some time, some kind of rich, unusual, frilly, and, I'm sure, high dollar dessert or two. These desserts always seem to be made of unique or unusual ingredients that I'm told are very difficult to locate. While these sweets all look good, many of them are a bit of a hassle to make and the real challenge comes in trying to present them the way the chef so desires. Half the conquest is in the presentation, they say. I have no idea what these fancy after dinner treats taste like and as long as they're on a plate or a bowl from whence I can consume them, I really don't give a hang about how they look. I'm more into how they taste, myself.
So, having said that, at the risk of offending the "gourmet afficianados" out there, let me tell you what I feel are the best darned desserts in the world. These items can tempt me often more than sex or rock 'n' roll and they sure make me feel a whole lot better. Now, if we consider the caloric value or cholestol levels, we're probably not going to win any doctor's awards for the healthiest desserts in the world, but when it comes to satisfying the pallet, nothing can perform as well as these nectars of the redneck gods. Let's get into it, shall we?
First and foremost, my by-far favoritist deeessert of all time is banana pudding. Now, not just ANY banana pudding will work my friends. No sir! The finest 'naner puddin' must be made just so and if not, it's not even in the same category as "heavenly" desserts. As a matter of fact, if not made just right, it's just the opposite of "heavenly." So what is "just right?"
The first rule of making homemade banana pudding is that nothing and I mean NOTHING in the ingredients shall come from a box. Too many people get lazy and try to use a pre-fabricated well-known brand of pudding-in-a-box as the basic vanilla pudding for a great homemade blend. This is a BIG MISTAKE! A natural born homemade 'naner puddin' afficianado will spot this simply by walking into the kitchen during the cooking process and it will be his faithful nose that will tell him that "something strange is going on here." You cannot fool a "mama's boy" who practically grew up on homemade 'naner puddin." Just like you cannot fool a great wine taster, a great horseman, a great diamond cutter or a great coffee taster, a refined pudding man cannot be deceived. We will know if you try to pass off boxed pudding as "real" pudding and we will hate you forever for trying to pull one over on us. It's offensive, ok? Just don't do it! It's to be compared to a cheating love affair. There's no forgiveness here. I hope you understand.
The vanilla pudding base must be made from flour, milk, sugar, butter and eggs. The final ingredients include Nabisco Nilla Nilla wafers, vanilla and, of course, bananas. There can be very, very few substitutes, however, one such substitute is Eagle Brand milk. This wonderfu, sweet concoction may be substituted, in small quantities, for milk. The pudding must be cooked slowly, over medium heat. If you cook it too fast, it causes small lumps to appear in the pudding and this ruins the texture so cook it slowly. Start out by mixing the sugar, flour and milk first. As that mixture heats almost to the boiling point, you take another bowl and you put your eggs into it and then dish a small amount of the pudding base into the bowl and mix the eggs into it. This also keeps the base from lumping. Once it's mixed well, you can add the egg-pudding base to the rest of the pudding. Are you with me? You then continue to cook the pudding, stirring constantlly by the way, until it thickens and starts to boil. Once it starts to boil, it is not going to get any thicker and you need to then add your butter and remove it from the heat. You can stop stirring now (after the butter if melted, of course).
Ok, let's talk a bit about one of the secret ingredients, Nilla Wafers from Nabisco. Yes, there are other vanilla wafers out there. That's for sure, however none of the others even comes close to comparing to Nilla Wafers. It's hard to believe but again, a connoisseur of banana puddings can tell the difference immediately and will put a mental label on you as "cheap" if you use anything but Nilla Wafers. He'll eat it but he will be placing the mental tag on you as he smiles at you, telling you how good it is. There is a big difference in the way that Nillas and others hold together in the pudding, the way they taste and the way the texture feels. I'm not kidding! If you want to make the very best pudding, you have got to get Nilla Wafers.
One more thing. Different people like bananas in different stages of ripeness. Some like kind of green bananas while others prefer more soft and ripe bananas. My dad couldn't eat a banana until it had turned black. I could never acquire a taste for what I considered a "dead" banana but he sure liked them. I digress...sorry. Ok, I personally think that the best time to use a banana is just after it loses the "green" coloring on the peel. To me, this is a sign that the banana is perfectly ripe. This stage doesn't last very long so you've got to get in there and make haste while the sun shines, so to speak. This is when you should make your banana pudding. The banana has a perfect texture and the taste is just right during this phase.
Now, there are a myriad of ways to actually "build" the pudding after the ingredients have been cooked. Some like to just throw all the ingredients together in a bowl and mix them. Others like to put in one ingredient and stack the other ingredients on them and then let the pudding separate them. My preferred method is to layer the ingredients. First, I take a good sized bowl and put a small layer of Nilla Wafers in the bottom. I then place a thin layer of pudding on the wafers followed by a layer of banana rounds. A banana round is when you just cut the banana in slices, crosswise, about 1/4 inch in length per slice. It then looks like a thick coin (you with me?). I then start the process over again with another layer of wafers, then the pudding and then the bananas. I do this until I get to the top of the bowl or when I start running out of pudding. I always make sure that there is a final, thicker layer of pudding upon which I place an "X" design of wafers across the bowl with banana slices sparsely between the uprights of the cross.
The vanilla pudding is then covered with wax paper and placed out of the range of prying and hungry eyes of any possible passers-by for about an hour. After an hour, you should have a work of art, ready to be consumed by anyone who can truly enjoy the intricacies of a finely made homemade banana pudding.
Warm is the best temperature to serve fresh banana pudding, however refrigerated banana pudding the next day is almost as awesome as fresh. The pudding starts to lose it's wonderful consistency and taste after about two days in the fridge (if it lasts that long) so don't keep it in there too long.
You may have noticed that I did not offer a specific recipe for this treasured pallet pleaser? That's because there are many, many great banana pudding recipes available on the Internet that will suffice as long as the ingredients and technique are applied appropriately. I just wanted to show you how to apply certain of those "techniques."
Again, never attempt to pull the wool over a Mama's boy redneck from Texas (or anywhere in the Southern USA for that matter) about banana pudding because this will cause disdain and resentment for years to come. Just ask my mother-in-law.
Now, go find a decent recipe with the proper ingredients and use some loving technique and you WILL impress even your fiercest enemy.
Watch for more Hubs about my favoritist Redneck desserts...next Chocolate Pie. Mmmmmmmm mmmmmm!!