Here we are in Tennessee, the “Volunteer State”. What better way to celebrate than with some Banana Pudding? The only “official” state food from Tennessee is the tomato, the state fruit. Since there aren’t many desserts with tomatoes, we decided instead to make the delicious Banana Pudding, a dessert enjoyed in many parts of the South.
Banana Pudding is so beloved in Tennessee that there actually is a Banana Pudding Festival, held every year in Centerville, TN.
Tennessee gets its nickname from numbers of volunteers that served in some of the more notable wars of the 1800s. Reports differ on whether it was the volunteers from Tennessee for the War of 1812 or the Mexican-American War that led to the state nickname. The mascot of the University of Tennessee is the Volunteers (or just “The Vols”).
Our version of Banana Pudding has caramelized bananas which adds a bit extra flavor. Enjoy!

Banana Pudding

Servings: 6-8

1/2 c white sugar
2 T cornstarch
1/2 t salt
2 c mik
1 T + 1/4 c butter, divided (1T for pudding, 1/4 c for bananas)
2 t vanilla
1/4 c brown sugar
4 c bananas (about 5 medium)
4 c vanilla wafers (about 1/2 of a 12-oz box)

In a small bowl, whisk together white sugar, cornstarch and salt.
Heat milk in a medium saucepan over medium heat just until bubbles form around the edges.
Add the dry ingredients to the milk, stirring so that everything mixes together well. Cook until the mixture has thickened enough to coat the back of a spoon, this will take 3-5 minutes.
Remove from heat and stir in 1 T butter and vanilla. Set aside while you prepare the bananas.

Slice bananas about 1/2 inch thick. Try to keep the bananas the same thickness as this will help them cook evenly.
In a large skillet, melt brown sugar and 1/4c butter until all the sugar is dissolved. Add the bananas and cook for 2-3 minutes until all the bananas are coated with the mixture. Don’t let them cook too long or else they will turn to mush.
Remove from heat.

In a single large or in individual dessert dishes, layer the ingredients as follows:
1/2 the vanilla wafers, 1/2 the bananas, 1/2 the pudding, then repeat with another layer of each.
Place in the refrigerator for at least one hour to set.

If desired, serve with whipped cream. To make the cream, whip together 1 c whipping cream with 2 T powdered sugar and 1 t vanilla until stiff peaks form.