Tag Archives: Banana pudding

Award-Winning Pralines and Cream Banana Pudding

If you enter the National Banana Pudding contest and win third place instead of first place … is it still “Award-Winning” banana pudding?

It all started a long time ago when I moved from Nebraska to Tennessee.  Whenever talking food I would often hear …  “oh! Banana Pudding!  Yum!”  Then I tasted it in a restaurant and truly said, “yuck.” My Banana-pudding-lovin‘ husband said, “that isn’t true banana pudding.  The banana pudding in my memory is creamy, delicious and topped mile high with oven-browned meringue!”

That is when my sister-in-law, Liz, gave me Southern Living’s Banana Pudding recipe.  She said, “this is the one he is talking about.”  I made it and the rest is history.  These pictures are some of the most shared pictures on Pinterest and the recipe still receives a lot of views on this blog.

Last August (2016) my Chief Banana Pudding-Lovin’ Husband read about the National Banana Pudding Festival held every year in Centerville, Tennessee.   He said, “Catherine, you should enter your banana pudding recipe in the National Banana Pudding Festival Cook-off!”

I said, “Sorry darling, it has to be an original recipe and mine is from Southern Living!”

Without even missing one little beat he said, “well, tweak it and make it an original!”  I had just taken an Apple Praline Cake out of the oven and I had pralines and caramel thoughts dancing in my head!

Apple Praline Cake – Fall’s Delight!

I started researching what it takes to enter the contest and again I was stopped by the “original, non-published” requirement for the banana pudding recipe that I could submit.  However, The Chief continued to encourage me to get creative.  I let my fingers do the walking through  and was pleasantly surprised not to find any recipes for pralines and cream banana pudding.  So, I had my title, now I just needed to create a recipe.

Over the next month, my sous-chef dish-washing mom and my Chief Banana Pudding Eater sampled several versions of what would become my original recipe.  Each time they would say “Yeah!  this is the best one.”  I quickly learned they were not an objective source for my recipe because they loved them all!

Finally, I settled on a recipe and the night before the deadline, I emailed off the application and my original recipe.  Three days later I received the surprise call — my recipe was chosen and I was one of 10 finalists chosen for the cook-off to be held in October.

As the information settled on my brain I got to thinking how I don’t even like to watch Food Network challenge cooking shows because it makes me too nervous and hypes me up!  Cook-off? In front of judges?  On a stage, in front of people?  What in the world was I thinking?

My husband was thrilled, my sous-chef dish-washing mom was “all-in” for a trip to Centerville, Tennessee and I was … well, sorta numb.  I received information that they were providing a hotel room for us the night before and that I would need to arrive at 7:30 a.m. at the Festival.  The cook-off would begin at 9 a.m. with 5 cooks on stage at one time.  We had ONE HOUR to make our pudding, layer it, top it and finish it.  Oh, yes, and by the way, we needed to make TWO batches, one for the judges and audience to taste and the other to auction off to the highest bidder.

Setting up my work space!

The informational documents I received said each contestant would have a gas stove and oven to use. Perfect, I could make my pudding faster as long as I stirred like a crazy woman!  No problem, I was feeling quite crazy. If there was any part of the recipe I couldn’t make in the one-hour time frame, I could do prep work at home.  For my recipe, I made the pecan pralines ahead of time and brought them with me.

The stage was in a large open-air building with a solid wall behind the stage, but was open on the sides.  Chairs were set up in the middle for the audience to sit.  My position on the stage was first in a lineup of 5.  That was good, I felt like the corner gave me some extra moving around space.  I set up all my ingredients and utensils.

The Festival sponsors provided all the bananas and Nilla wafers that we needed.  Then I turned around to heat up the oven.  OH, MY GOODNESS!  Shock set in – the “stove and oven” was a little apartment size that actually was heated with propane, not natural gas. I don’t know the technical part of heating with propane vs. natural gas but I do know that propane doesn’t heat as quickly or efficiently.  The day was a bit windy and when I turned on the stove the flames skirted off to the side a little bit.  The oven seemed to be heating up okay.

Display I set up to showcase my pudding for the judges.

Little did I know when I started that the pudding was going to be very difficult to cook.  My pan was larger than the burner on the stove.  Trouble.  One of the judges approached me and began chatting as my hour began.  Trouble.  The flames were blowing to the side instead of heating up the bottom of my pot.  Trouble.

Fast forward one hour.  Two puddings were done, layered with bananas, Nilla wafers, pecan pralines, topped with meringue and baked.  I was given table space to display them. I had designed my space to hopefully grab some attention.  The clock ticked, the bell rang.  It was over.

At home, the pudding took 10 to 12 minutes to cook on my induction stove.  The propane-fired miniature stove took 30 minutes of stir time to make my pudding.  In the end, I added some extra flour and sugar attempting to thicken the pudding quicker.  The pudding ended up grain and not as creamy as I would have liked.

At one point I held the electric mixer in one hand beating the meringue while layering the bananas, Nilla wafers and pudding with the other hand.  I had to of looked out of control and I certainly felt that way.

All-in-all it was a fun experience.  I didn’t know I was going to be given a hand-made pottery “pudding pot” as part of my 3rd place prize package.  That pudding pot made it all worth it!  I love it.

I don’t want to do it again.  However, I have tweaked my recipe a little bit since that time.  The recipe I am sharing with you is the “tweaked” version and we agree, it’s our favorite!

Pralines and Caramel Banana Pudding

If you’ve never made banana pudding, it is fun to do and guarantees rave reviews.  If you have made it, you may want to try this version because the caramel flavoring and pecan pralines send it over-the-top on the flavor scale.

Happy Cooking!
~ Catherine

P.S.  Another best part — my sweet banana-pudding-lovin’ husband washed up all my pots and pans at the Festival.  ❤️

Award-Winning Pralines and Caramel Banana Pudding
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
No matter where you take this bowl of banana pudding, it will return empty! My original recipe won 3rd place at the National Banana Pudding Festival in 2016. In this version, I added caramel flavoring which only served to improve the over-all recipe.
Recipe type: Dessert
Cuisine: Southern
Serves: 12-16
Praline Pecans
  • 1 cup whole pecans
  • ¼ cup packed light brown sugar
  • 2 Tablespoons heavy cream
  • ½ tsp. caramel flavoring
  • ⅔ cup white sugar
  • ¼ cup all-purpose flour
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 (14 oz.) can of sweetened condensed milk
  • 2 cups whole milk
  • 4 large eggs, separated
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 2 tsp. caramel flavoring
  • 1 (11 oz.) packaged of vanilla wafers
  • 4 bananas, sliced (dipped in lemon water or sprinkled with fruit fresh)
  • 1 teaspoon banana extract
  • ⅓ cup sugar
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. F.
  2. In a medium bowl combine whole pecans, brown sugar, cream, and caramel flavoring. Mix well coating the pecans evenly. Spread onto a baking sheet, sprayed lightly with cooking spray. Bake in the preheated oven for about 20 minutes or until the coating is dry and slightly crystallized, stirring at least once. Remove from oven to cool and break apart any pieces that are sticking together. Set aside.
To make pudding
  1. Combine ⅔ cup sugar, flour, and salt in a heavy saucepan. In a separate bowl whisk together condensed milk, whole milk, and egg yolks; stir into the dry ingredients. Cook over medium heat, whisking constantly until smooth and thickened. Use the largest whisk you have to stir while cooking the pudding. This usually takes 10 to 15 minutes, but really depends on your stove or heat source.
  2. Remove from heat and stir in vanilla extract and caramel flavoring. Cool the pudding at this point on the counter until just barely warm.
  3. Using a 2 to 3-quart baking dish, arrange ⅓ of the wafers in the bottom of the dish, laying each one flat. Layer 2 sliced bananas over the wafers. Pour ½ of the pudding mixture over the wafer and banana layer. Repeat with a second layer ending with pudding on top.
  4. Beat egg whites on high speed with an electric mixer until foamy. Add banana extract. Continue beating at high speed, adding ⅓ cup sugar just one tablespoon at a time. Continue to beat until egg whites are very stiff.
  5. Spread egg white mixture over the pudding, sealing it up against the edge of the bowl. Arrange remaining wafers around the outside of the dish. Dot around the edge with praline pecans.
  6. Bake at 375 degrees for 10 minutes or until golden brown.
  7. Drizzle with caramel ice cream topping if desired. Serve pudding warm at room temperature, or refrigerate and serve cold. Enjoy!
Note: This pudding will fit a 9” x 13” baking dish or a 2 or 3-quart dish.
Also – be sure and use sweetened condensed milk and NOT evaporated milk!


Most Views Continue With Southern-Style Banana Pudding

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pinterestRecently I received an email from  Pinterest informing me that my Southern Living Best Banana Pudding recipe is one of the most viewed recipe making the rounds and being repinned globally!

But wait there’s more! Click to continue reading

Today I Made A Pie, Caramel Pecan Pie

Today I made a pie.  Now ordinarily this isn’t blog-worthy news.  However, today it is.  You see, for the better part of the last 6 weeks I have traveled or been otherwise preoccupied and have spent very little time in the kitchen.

To the person who looks at the kitchen as a necessary evil, 6 weeks without cooking or baking may sound like the best vacation ever!  But for me I have missed time in the kitchen.  Time planning a menu and executing that meal. Time listening to the wrrrrh of my mixer or maybe it is the fragrance of fresh baked bread that has me longing for some kitchen-time.

Our travels took us to California, Colorado, Nebraska and back to Tennessee.  A wedding, a graduation and a family reunion sprinkled with some precious time with friends.  In a small-town cafe in Crawford, Nebraska I saw the sign for homemade pecan pie.  I was so tempted … but then I came to my senses.  I don’t mean to be a pie snob.  But sadly, I am.  Through the years I have learned there are pies and then there are my homemade pies.  Most of the time I try a restaurant pie I am sorely disappointed.

Paulsen Family Reunion June 2014
Paulsen Family Reunion
June 2014

So here I am.  My first afternoon since coming home that I actually have time to clean my house.  Just in case you are wondering I did dust the end of May.  Yikes!  Is it really the end of June?  Okay, so I need to dust.  I mopped and vacuumed the floor and cleaned the bathrooms.  I did laundry.  But that is not the same as a good ‘ol house cleaning.

But alas it was my kitchen that beckoned me.  The pecans are sitting on the shelf in my refrigerator.  I know I will find corn syrup and sugar in the raw in my pantry.  Caramel Pecan Pie. Yep, that is what is baking in my oven now.

As I sit and type this blog post I realize I am doing everything possible to keep from dusting — even writing an over-due blog post! Since guilt is starting to take a pretty good hold on me I will sign off and actually do some house cleaning before dinner.

I pray your summer is going well.  That you are getting to spend some time doing what delights you the most and I wish you a happy Friday and blessed weekend!

pinterestFor Pinterest lovers, here are this weeks tops recipes on Pinterest brought to us by Ziplist!  I don’t have one on the list but my Southern Living Banana Pudding is getting lots of play!
banana pudding upclose
Happy Cooking! Boating? Baking? Gardening? Cleaning (!) or just reading a good book beside the pool!

Come Lord Jesus

Come Lord Jesus, be our guest, May this food by thee be blest, May our souls by thee be fed, Ever on the living Bread. Amen. – See more at: http://www.prayers-for-special-help.com/dinner-prayers.html#sthash.x0KHvIxq.dpuf
Come Lord Jesus, be our guest, May this food by thee be blest, May our souls by thee be fed, Ever on the living Bread. Amen. – See more at: http://www.prayers-for-special-help.com/dinner-prayers.html#sthash.x0KHvIxq.dpuf
Come Lord Jesus, be our guest, May this food by thee be blest, May our souls by thee be fed, Ever on the living Bread. Amen. – See more at: http://www.prayers-for-special-help.com/dinner-prayers.html#sthash.x0KHvIxq.dpuf

Blessings, Catherine







Southern Living Banana Pudding

banana pudding upclose
In 2011 I blogged about the best banana pudding I’ve ever made. The recipe was posted in Southern Living magazine years ago.  I recently made this for a fellowship lunch at Community Bible Study.  As I was making it I realized the first time around my camera technique wasn’t so great and I decided to re-post and remind you to put this on your fall baking list.

laying banana pudding
Bananas – lots of bananas and vanilla wafers, lots of vanilla wafers.

cooking banana pudding
Homemade vanilla custard.  Easy to make and soooo much better than the box mix puddings.

banana pudding momma papa gma
I made a double batch. An over-full 9″x13″ pan for Community Bible Study and supper’s dessert for papa bear, mama bear and grandma bear. 🙂 I know better than to try and sneak a Banana Pudding out of the house past the Chief and my sous-chef dish-washing mom. Nabisco is making “mini vanilla wafers” and I couldn’t resist using these little canning jars for our baked puddings!

banana pudding x 3
Happy Baking!
Blessings, Catherine

“Remember this and stand firm,
    recall it to mind, you transgressors,
remember the former things of old;
for I am God, and there is no other;
I am God, and there is none like me,
Isaiah 46:8-9

Southern Living Banana Pudding
Homemade doesn't get any better than this Best-Ever-Banana Pudding from Southern Living!
Serves: 12
  • ⅔ cup sugar
  • ¼ cup all-purpose flour
  • Dash of salt
  • 1 (14 oz.) can of sweetened condensed milk
  • 2½ cups milk
  • 4 large eggs, separated
  • 2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 (12 oz.) package vanilla wafers
  • 6 large bananas, sliced and sprinkled with fruit fresh
  • ⅓ cup sugar
  • ½ teaspoon banana extract
  1. Combine first 3 ingredients in a heavy saucepan.Whisk together milk and egg yolks; stir into dry ingredients. Cook over medium heat, whisking constantly until smooth and thickened.
  2. Remove from heat; stir in vanilla.
  3. Arrange one-third of wafers in bottom of a 3-quart baking dish. Slice 2 bananas; layer over wafers. Pour one-third of pudding mixture over bananas. Repeat layers twice, arranging remaining wafers around outside of dish.
  4. Beat egg whites at high speed with an electric mixer until foamy.
  5. Add ⅓ cup sugar, one tablespoon at a time, beating until stiff peaks form and sugar dissolves (2 to 4 minutes). Fold in banana extract; spread over pudding, sealing in edge.
  6. Bake at 325 degrees F for 25 minutes or until golden brown.
Pudding fits in 9" x 13" baking dish or 3 quart dish.
NOTE: Use Sweetened Condensed Milk NOT evaporated milk.
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