Somewhere online, I saw this book about desserts in jars. I sort of giggled at the idea that such a specific concept of “desserts in jars” could fill an entire book. But, once I thought about it, I decided it wasn’t such a bad idea. I haven’t yet flipped through Shaina’s book but it did inspire me to build these banana pudding parfaits in jars. They kept well in the refrigerator and would be perfect for picnics or meals on-the-go.
Old fashioned banana pudding has always been a favorite of mine. I like it best the next day when the pudding has made the cookies just soggy enough but the bananas haven’t broken down to mush. Since I am a vanilla pudding/custard addict, I prefer traditional, old fashioned vanilla pudding without flavorings or liqueurs adding banana flavor into the pudding. I let the fresh bananas do all the work. And, though I like whipped cream, I didn’t include it in this batch. A little, freshly whipped cream cloud on top wouldn’t hurt.
Usually, Nilla wafers are used in banana pudding recipes. I experienced a happy accident when I couldn’t find them at my local store. Instead, I bought a box of Lorna Doones. The buttery, shortbread cookies were a welcome substitute and will be my first choice in the future. If you have leftover Girl Scout shortbread cookies, this might be a nice place for them to find a final resting place. If you really want to impress, make your own homemade shortbread cookies!
When our last jar of this banana pudding was left, our four-person family eagerly crowded around to share. Fighting almost ensued as little eyes determined whether or not each bite was of equal size. Though the elements are simple, this is one of my all-time favorite desserts. So comforting. Unctuous, rich homemade pudding layered with buttery cookies and fresh bananas. What’s not to love?
Banana pudding parfaits
Makes 6 servings
2 1/2 cups whole milk, divided
1/4 cup cornstarch
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 egg yolks
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
2 fresh bananas cut into 1/8 inch slices
18 small shortbread cookies (I used Lorna Doones)
whipped cream (optional)
To make the pudding:
Put 2 cups of the milk in a medium saucepan over medium heat. In another bowl, combine cornstarch, sugar and salt with a whisk. Add the additional 1/2 cup cold milk and whisk to combine. Whisk in egg yolks until smooth.
When milk is hot but not boiling, slowly add a half cup of the warm milk into the cold mixture, whisking constantly. Then, slowly add the mixture into the pan of hot milk, whisking constantly. Continue to stir and heat until you see the first bubbles. Turn down to low heat and cook, stirring constantly, for another one-two minutes until pudding begins to thicken.
Pour the pudding into a bowl. Stir in butter and vanilla extract. To avoid a pudding skin on the top, you can place plastic wrap directly on the surface of the pudding. Cool the pudding in the refrigerator until ready to assemble. Whisk the pudding again before serving.
To assemble banana pudding parfaits:
Put a few spoonfulls of pudding at the bottom of each jar or serving cup. Spread a few banana slices on the pudding and crumble a cookie over the top. Add a few more spoons of pudding. Add banana and a cookie. Spread the final amount of pudding over the top and place a whole cookie on top.
If you are using whipped cream, add it between the layers of pudding.