This banana pudding has the same basic structure as Magnolia Bakery’s, without the instant pudding mix or sweetened condensed milk. It's got pudding, bananas, Nilla wafers, and whipped cream, but instead of vanilla pudding from a box I’ve whisked up a deeply flavorful butterscotch pudding. No need to try to bake your own cookies, though; there is no adequate substitute for Nilla wafers. —Yossy Arefi
Combine the granulated sugar and water in a medium saucepan. Cook over low heat until the sugar dissolves. Turn the heat up to high, then cook the sugar until it is dark amber in color. Remove the pan from the heat, then carefully whisk in the heavy cream. It will spit and sputter quite a bit, so watch your fingers!
Mix the brown sugar, cornstarch, salt in a saucepan. Whisk in the milk. Cut down the length of the vanilla bean and toss that in the pan too. Turn the heat to medium high and cook the mixture, stirring constantly, until the it thickens and comes to a boil. Carefully remove the vanilla bean pod and squeeze all of the seeds into the milk. Rinse the pod and save it for another use.
In a bowl, whisk the egg yolks and the warm caramel sauce together. Whisk the egg mixture into the milk mixture and cook over medium heat while stirring constantly until the mixture comes to a simmer. Whisk in the butter.
Remove the pudding to a bowl and press a layer of plastic wrap on the surface. Chill completely.
To assemble the banana pudding, whisk the chilled butterscotch pudding until smooth. Fold the heavy cream into the pudding, reserving a few spoonfuls to top the finished pudding.
Layer the pudding, Nila wafers, and sliced bananas in a 9 x 13-inch dish, in a trifle dish, or in 12 individual clear glasses until all the ingredients are used up. Top with reserved whipped cream. Refrigerate the pudding for at least 1 hour before serving.
Yossy Arefi is a photographer and stylist with a passion for food. During her stint working in restaurant kitchens, Yossy started the blog Apt. 2B Baking Co. where, with her trusty Pentax film camera, she photographs and writes about seasonal desserts and preserves. She currently lives in Brooklyn but will always love her native city of Seattle. Follow her work at apt2bbakingco.blogspot.com & yossyarefi.com.