I LOVE Magnolia Bakery’s Banana Pudding. Yes the place is super touristy and is in the regular rotation for the Sex in the City bus tours that infest New York… but that pudding! I have been obsessed with it since the first time I tried it and historically I have never cared much for that desert. I was more than a little shocked when I found out how easy it is to make. If you look on the back of a Nilla Wafers box (an essential component to ANY banana pudding) you will find one that is roughly 1000 times more complicated and not nearly as good.
Many, many years ago I would go to a West Village restaurant called David’s Potbelly and one of the items on their menu was an Elvis Burger. It was a plump, juicy burger topped with a generous dollop of creamy peanut butter, sliced ripe bananas, and some crispy bacon. It was a perfect burger and something of a problem for me at 200 AM after a full day of normal meals to top off with a midnight snack befitting the King himself.
Anyway… Magnolia Bakery is not far from where the ghost of David’s Potbelly haunts my waistline. I was walking by there fully immersed in a pint of creamy non-Elvis’ed banana pudding and it struck by an almost religious vision. I should do unto the pudding as was done unto that burger.
This is the result…
14 oz can sweetened condensed milk
1 1/2 cups ice cold water
Small box (3.4 oz) instant vanilla pudding mix
8 tablespoons of PB2 (dehydrated peanut butter powder)
1 tsp of Kosher salt
6-8 thick slices of bacon
1/3 cup dark brown sugar
3 cups heavy whipping cream
Box Nilla Wafers
4 sliced bananas
Time to Make the Pudding
In the bowl of a mixer, beat sweetened condensed milk, PB2 and water for about a minute. Add the pudding mix and mix for two to three more minutes. Strain into a smaller bowl to remove lumps of PB2, cover, and refrigerate for at least 4 hours (or overnight) so the mixture can set up.
Place a wire rack on a baking sheet and lay out strips of bacon and sprinkle with brown sugar. Bake in a preheated 400 degree oven for around 20 minutes or until bacon is crispy and sugar has caramelized. Allow to cool and reserve bacon for later.
In a large bowl on medium speed, whip the heavy cream until stiff peaks form — I put my metal mixing bowl and whisk mixer attachment in the freezer for five minutes prior…the cream always whips up very quickly this way. Using a rubber spatula, gently fold in the pudding mixture until fully combined and no streaks of pudding are visible.
In a large bowl, layer wafers, bananas, and pudding. Ideally, you want three layers but if you go with a larger baking dish you might only have two. Top with a liberal sprinkling of the chopped bacon. Cover tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate for about 8 hours before serving. It is actually best about 48 hours after being made.