Thursday, March 28, 2013

Banana Pudding With An Upgrade

When the daycare parent group decided on a Curious George theme for our Reading Month party, banana pudding was the obvious snack choice.  I volunteered to make it - largely because I wanted to try to give it a makeover.
I don't care for mushy cookies and I'm not fond of banana-flavored pudding.  So I decided I would use my own semi-homemade pudding recipe, homemade whipped cream and homemade shortbread (recipes at the bottom).
Then some of the other moms pitched in and brought topping so the kids could have an interactive experience with their pudding (here is my Little Man digging in to his creation).  OK - let's not kid ourselves - the adults had as much fun dressing this up sundae-style as the kids did...  The list of toppings included:

Nilla Wafers
Chocolate Syrup
Chocolate Sprinkles
Animal Crackers
Rainbow Sprinkles
Chocolate Chips
White Chocolate Chips
I started by making a homemade shortbread completely following the directions from my Betty Crocker cookbook.  Shamefully, I did not take pictures of this process (I know, I know...) but you can see the whole thing in this delightful post over at Jenna's Everything Blog.  The shortbread and less-sweet whipped cream were a good balance against the sweetness of the other toppings that got piled on.

4 sticks butter, softened (2 cups)
1 cup sugar
4 cups flour

First, cream your butter and sugar together.  Add one cup of flour at a time.  With my hand mixer I was only able to add the first 3 until my dough got too stiff, if you have a stand mixer then you will probably be able to get all 4 mixed in.  My method of kneading was a bit different then Jenna's too.  Because I still had to work in the last cup of flour, I added the flour to the bowl and then I started kneading the flour in right in the bowl.  I just fold, press and turn, fold, press over and over.  I press with the heel of my hand kneading the dough away and to the bottom of the bowl.  I just prefer this way because it is less messy for me than kneading on the counter (I do this when I make bread too).  The dough will go through several stages of consistency - just keep going until it becomes smooth and elastic.  Then I took half the dough and formed a large thick rectangle on my floured counter.  I rolled this out in a rectangle until it was about a 1/2 inch thick. Then I cut it into strips about an inch wide and about 2-3 inches long.  I repeated the same process with the second half of the dough.  Lay your strips on cookie sheets, prick the tops with a fork, and bake in the oven at 350 degrees for about 20 minutes or until the edges are slightly golden and the cookie is set.  Remove to a cooling rack and let cool completely.  If not assembling your pudding right away, seal in an airtight container.  One recipe of shortbread was enough to cover the bottoms of 4 - 13x9x2 foil pans in a single layer with a handful of cookies left for taste-testing.  :)

**If not assembling right away, wait to make the pudding and whipped cream until the day of assembly.  Assemble the day before serving and keep refrigerated.  Your shortbread will not get soggy.  On assembly day, place a single layer of shortbread on the bottom of your dish, top with sliced bananas (you will need about 5-6 for a 13x9x2 pan), top with the pudding, then top with the whipped cream.

1 block of cream cheese, softened
5 cups milk
2 small boxes french vanilla instant pudding mix

This will yield enough for one tray with an extra thick layer of pudding.  I also neglected to take pictures of this part (mainly because I don't have a stand mixer with a guard so there was stuff flying everywhere!).  To make the 4 - 13x9x2 trays, I made 3 batches of this pudding.  Start by beating the cream cheese until soft.  Gradually add the first 2 cups of milk while beating.  Scrape your bowl and add the 2 boxes of pudding mix.  Beat until well blended.  Gradually add the additional 3 cups of milk while beating.  Beat for about 2 more minutes until your pudding starts to thicken.

Whipped Cream:
2 cups heavy whipping cream
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 cup powdered sugar

Start by whipping the whipping cream until a slight glossy "skim" coat starts to appear on the top of the cream.  Add your vanilla and 1/4 cup of the powdered sugar.  Whip until well blended.  Add the rest of the powdered sugar.  Whip until cream is stiff and holds its shape.  Add more powdered sugar to taste if you want but keep in mind the mixture will taste sweeter after it sets a while.  For this particular dessert I didn't want it to be very sweet because I knew the kids would be adding other sweets on top.

1 comment:

KC Coake said...

What a fun and yummy idea! Thanks so much for linking up at Real Family Fun.