Begonia’s Banana Pudding

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Begonia was a friend of my Grandma McGee.  I can imagine the two of them sitting together chatting about life, griping about life’s little irritations, celebrating the successes, sharing recipes and smiling.  Lots of smiles.  Begonia shared this recipe with my Grandma and it’s become a family favorite over the years.  It always makes me think of my Grandma and makes me smile like I know they would be.

There’s a surprise ingredient in this pudding, one I really wasn’t a fan of growing up.  I mean, who likes to put sour cream on things?! (I’ve thankfully overcome this dislike in my more recent years)  If you aren’t a fan of sour cream, you have to give this a try.  It gives the pudding a richness without adding more sweet to the mix.

Do you have any favorite namesake recipes?  What are they?


Begonia’s Banana Pudding

  • 5 bananas, sliced
  • 3 small, or 2 large, instant banana pudding mix
  • 3 cups milk
  • 12 oz cool whip
  • 12 oz sour cream
  • 1 box Nilla wafers, or similar product

This couldn’t be easier, y’all.  Mix and stack your way to sweetness!

To start, line a bowl or individual parfait cups with wafers.  I like to break a few up so that they make a pretty complete bottom layer but you do you with the amount of wafers you use.  If you ask Will, he’s going to say “load it up with wafers!” If you are going for presentation power, use a glass dish and be sure to get the wafers all the way to the edge so that you can see them against the glass.

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Whisk together the pudding mixes and milk. Stir in the cool whip and sour cream until everything is mixed well and smooth.  Trust on the sour cream, y’all.  It works.

Carefully layer bananas and pudding on top of your base wafer layer.  If you want the pretty presentation, just be sure to carefully line some banana slices right at the edge of the dish and then carefully smooth the pudding over the top and to the edges.  It will set and firm up a bit if you let the completed dish sit in the fridge for a while.   Keep alternating layers of wafers, bananas and pudding until you reach the top of your dish or run out of material!

Top with crushed wafers (extra cool whip is nice too).  You are good to go from here, or set the dish(es) in the fridge for a bit and the pudding will firm up a little more.

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If you are smiling right now, Begonia would be proud 🙂


Full Recipe

Begonia’s Banana Pudding

  • 5 bananas, sliced
  • 3 small, or 2 large, instant banana pudding mix
  • 3 cups milk
  • 12 oz cool whip
  • 12 oz sour cream
  • 1 box Nilla wafers, or similar product

Line a bowl (or individual parfait cups) with wafers.

Mix pudding and milk.

Add cool whip and sour cream, mix well.

In the bowl, or parfait dishes, alternate layers of pudding, bananas and wafers.

Top with crushed wafers.

Crème Brûlée

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Do you have a favorite dessert?  I do.  It’s this one.

There is just something about Crème Brûlée that satisfies my sweet tooth.  The hard, sugary top you have to crack into, the creamy custard underneath… it is just so good.  If it is on a menu, I’m ordering it. This is also the perfect dessert for that Valentine’s Dinner we just talked about.  Forget the chocolate, everyone does that, and go for the vanilla!

While this dessert may look complicated, it requires just a few everyday ingredients and a little time for the custard to set up.  And what a way to impress your Valentine by torching up some sugar!

What’s your favorite dessert?


Crème Brûlée

  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 1 T vanilla
  • ⅛ teaspoon salt
  • 5 egg yolks
  • ½ cup sugar, more for topping

Heat your oven to 325.

In a medium saucepan, combine the cream and salt.  Cook over low heat just until hot – you don’t want to scorch the cream.

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Remove the pan from the heat.  Add the vanilla, whisk and let it sit to cool for a few minutes.

If you are feeling super fancy you can definitely use vanilla bean in this recipe.  To use a whole bean, carefully slice all the way down one side of the bean.  Drop it in the cream/salt mixture and let it heat up in the liquid.  When you pull the pan from the heat, take the bean out of the mixture and, using the back of a knife or a spoon, scrape all the seeds out of the bean pod.  Drop the scrapings back into the mixture and whisk it all together to see those lovely black bits in your custard.

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Separate five eggs, you will use the yolks in this recipe. Hang on to those egg whites – you can make an egg white omelet, save them for the next pie topping… but in our house saving the eggs whites means that Sadie gets a nice treat with her dinner.

In a bowl, beat the egg yolks and sugar together until they are a pale yellow color.  You can break out the electric mixers but I find that a classic whisk will do the job just fine here.

Whisk about 1/4 cup of the cream into the egg mixture, beating constantly so that the cream is incorporated but you don’t cook or scramble the egg yolks.  This is called tempering the eggs – if you dump hot liquid on eggs without tempering you’ll end up with scrambled egg lumps in your custard, which is probably not the romantic note you are looking for this your dessert!

Pour the sugar-egg mixture into the rest of the cream and whisk until combined.

Place four 6-ounce ramekins into a baking dish and divide the custard evenly between the ramekins.

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Bring a couple cups of water to a boil, I like to use my teapot here, and then carefully pour the boiling water into the baking dish so that the water comes up the ramekins about halfway.  This is a water bath – it allows the custard to cook evenly in the oven and prevent a crust from forming around the top.  It is MUCH easier to accomplish this without spills and splashes if you place the waterless baking dish in the oven and then fill before shutting it in.

Bonus: the leftover water lends itself nicely to a warm cup of tea 🙂

Bake the custards for 30-40 minutes, or until the centers are barely set.

Cool the custards completely on a wire rack.  Once cooled, refrigerate for several hours and up to a couple of days.  If the custards will be chilling for more than a couple of hours, place a sheet of plastic wrap over the top of the ramekin and very lightly set it over the custard to prevent a film from forming.  Do not top with sugar until you are ready to serve the completed dessert.

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You can see that mine aren’t perfect, there are little bubbles and such… Who cares?  It’s about to be sugar coated anyway!

Now, gather your Valentine for the show!

When you are ready to serve your desserts, pull the custards from the refrigerator and top each custard you are serving with a thin layer of sugar.  Many Crème Brûlée recipes call for a fine sugar on top of the custard.  That may be ideal, but not necessary.  Regular table sugar will work, you just may not get as neat and smooth of a sugar crust on top.  To solve this issue, I simply put the table sugar into a small blender or food processor and zap it a few seconds.  Bingo! Fine sugar that looks like something between table sugar and powdered sugar. The crucial part is:  keep the sugar in one thin layer.  The thicker the sugar, the more heat it takes to get that candy coating and the more likely you are to burn rather than crystalize.

Time to torch!

Using a cooking torch, slowly run the flame over the sugar until it melts and browns.  A little black is okay – just try to keep the flame running smoothly over the top to get that crust that a Crème Brûlée screams for.

Don’t have a torch?  No problem!  Place the ramekins under a broiler about 2-3 inches from the heat source.  Keep a watch on them and cook until sugar melts and browns, about 5 minutes.

Top the dessert with a dab of whipped cream and a few berries.  Because everything is better with whipped cream and berries.

I mean… look at that crust!

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Let me hear ya:  who are you making this tasty, sugary dessert for this Valentines?


Full Recipe

Crème Brûlée

  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 1 T vanilla
  • ⅛ teaspoon salt
  • 5 egg yolks
  • ½ cup sugar, more for topping

Heat oven to 325 degrees.

In a saucepan, combine cream and salt and cook over low heat just until hot.

Add vanilla, stir and let sit for a few minutes.

In a bowl, beat yolks and sugar together until light.

Whisk about ¼ cup of the cream into this mixture, then pour sugar-egg mixture into cream and whisk.

Pour into four 6-ounce ramekins and place ramekins in a baking dish; fill dish with boiling water halfway up the sides of the dishes.

Bake for 30 to 40 minutes, or until centers are barely set.

Cool completely on a rack.

Refrigerate for several hours and up to a couple of days.

When ready to serve, top each custard with about a teaspoon of sugar in a thin layer.

Using a cooking torch, slowly run the flame over the sugar until it melts and browns.

*If you do not have a torch:

Place ramekins in a broiler 2 to 3 inches from heat source and  turn on broiler.

Cook until sugar melts and browns or even blackens a bit, about 5 minutes.

Top with a dab of whipped cream and a few berries.

Serve within two hours.

Black Forest Pudding

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Ready for something sweet?

This recipe comes from my mom.  I’m not really sure why we call it Black Forest Pudding, since historically anything labeled “Black Forest” includes cherries and this one is most definitely cherry-free.

Grandpa McGee hates cherries.  As a result of this, my sister, Laura, and I would love to sit next to him at dinner.  Grandma McGee often made a fruit salad with dinner and, of course, fruit salad has cherries.  Grandpa would start the meal by picking up his medicine Grandma had thoughtfully put on his dinner plate, swallow it with a gulp of tea, make a big face of disgust to make us girls giggle, then slyly start picking all the cherries out of this fruit salad and slip them on our plates.  It was the highlight of every meal, followed only by Grandma’s fabulous cooking itself.  I’m going to guess that this recipe was developed to ease some of Grandpa McGee’s cherry pains.

After cooking the crust, this dessert is chilled and can be easily made ahead of time and stored in the fridge.  I’ve often made this as a housewarming or potluck dish as it travels well.

If you like cherries, you could easily add a cherry pie filling between the cream cheese and chocolate pudding layers.  Go ahead… I won’t tell Grandpa.


Black Forest Pudding

  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 cup pecans, finely chopped
  • 1 stick butter, melted
  • 8 oz cream cheese, softened
  • 1 cup sifted powdered sugar
  • 3 cups whipped cream (or one small package of prepared whipped cream)
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 small package instant vanilla pudding
  • 1 small package instant chocolate pudding
  • 3 cups milk
  • Pecans, chocolate chips for topping

Mix together the pecans, flour and melted butter.

Spray a baking dish with cooking spray.  If you like a thicker crust, use an 8×8 pan – for a thinner crust, go with a 9×13 pan.  Press the dough onto the bottom of the pan. Bake at 350 for 20 minutes, then cool the crust completely.

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Blend together the softened cream cheese, powdered sugar, 1 cup whipped cream and vanilla.

In a separate bowl, mix together the puddings and milk.

Now, it’s all about the layering.  Top the cooled crust with the cream cheese mixture.  Spread the pudding mixture on top of that.  Cover with the remaining whipped cream.  When spreading the whipped cream, be careful not to push the cream too hard into the pudding or it will start to streak a bit.

I always like to decorate the tops of desserts like this with a hint as to what is inside – it’ll save you from having to warn eaters about nuts, chocolate, or other potential allergy items.  I sprinkle the top of the Black Forest Pudding with mini chocolate chips and a few pecan pieces.

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Refrigerate until ready to serve!

Try it out – cherries or no, this is an easy dessert for family, friends and Grandpas all over.

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Full Recipe

Black Forest Pudding

  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 cup pecans, finely chopped
  • 1 stick butter, melted
  • 8 oz cream cheese, softened
  • 1 cup sifted powdered sugar
  • 3 cups whipped cream (or one small package of prepared whipped cream)
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 small package instant vanilla pudding
  • 1 small package instant chocolate pudding
  • 3 cups milk
  • Pecans, chocolate chips for topping

 

Mix together the pecans, flour and melted butter.

Spray baking dish (8×8 for thick crust, 9×13 for thinner crust) with cooking spray.

Press into baking dish and bake at 350 for 20 minutes.

Cool completely.

Blend together the softened cream cheese, powdered sugar and 1 cup whipped cream.

Spread on top of cooled crust.

Mix together the puddings and milk.

Spread on top of cream cheese mixture.

Top with remaining whipped cream.

Sprinkle pecans, chocolate chips on top of dessert.

Refrigerate until ready to serve.