Although I do not live in New York City, I’m lucky enough live close enough to easily visit it for a weekend. And frankly, I think that is the ideal amount of time to spend in NYC. I am a city girl, but NYC can be too much.
At first its exhilarating — the people, the sites, the food. But eventually, I’m overwhelmed and overstimulated. It’s usually a relief to go home. (And sometimes that is the best part about travel – getting to be glad to go home!)
Most of what I enjoy in NYC are things I’m happy to experience once or twice a year: a hot dog from Gray’s Papaya, a stroll through Central Park, a visit to MOMA. But there is one place I really wish we had at home: Magnolia Bakery.
Although they are famous for their cupcakes, I have never actually tried one. That’s because once you’ve had their banana pudding, you’ll loose all interest in anything else on the menu.
The banana pudding is one of the best puddings I’ve ever had. It’s creamy, rich, and filled with banana flavor. The last time we were in town, they had just introduced the chocolate version, and its just as good. We went to Magnolia an embarrassing number of times that trip.
Magnolia Bakery has a cookbook which includes a recipe for this pudding, but I was disappointed to see the primary ingredient in it boxed pudding mix. I have to assume this is an adjustment they made to their recipe for home cooks. I can’t imagine a professional kitchen stocking huge boxes of pudding mix to make their product.
I personally prefer not to use baking/cooking mixes – they don’t save me much time and I prefer to have more control over the ingredients I use. But I also wanted more banana pudding in my life, so I decided to work on a recipe myself.
Although its somewhat of a mystery to me why, it turns out all you really have to do is add bananas to any pudding recipe to get banana flavor. The bananas seem to release their “essence” into the pudding while you let them sit. No need to anything else! That makes this recipe really simple, since the magic happens while it rests.
At Magnolia, the Chocolate Banana pudding included chocolate wafer cookies – they looked like Oreos without the filling. Those proved a little tricky to find, but I found the “thin” version of Oreos worked really well.
You could certainly layer these ingredients, trifle style, in a pretty dish. I didn’t because I don’t have an appropriate sized dish, but this is how Magnolia serves it anyway, all mixed together in a tub.
Chocolate Banana Pudding
Adapted from a recipe from America’s Test Kitchen
Makes 6 servings
- 2 tsp vanilla extract
- 1⁄2 cup sugar
- 3 tbsp dutch process cocoa
- 2 tbsp cornstarch
- 1⁄4 tsp salt
- 1⁄2 cup heavy cream
- 3 egg yolks
- 2 1⁄2 cups whole milk
- 5 tbsp unsalted butter, cut into cubes
- 4 ounces milk or semisweet chocolate, finely chopped (60% cocoa)
- 4-5 large bananas
- chocolate wafer cookies (such as Oreos)
- whipped cream for garnish, optional
In a large saucepan, whisk the sugar, cocoa, cornstarch and salt until combined. Whisk in the heavy cream, egg yolks and whole milk.
Place the pan on medium-high heat and cook until it thickens and bubbles form over the entire surface (so it looks like the picture above), whisking nearly constantly. This will take about 5 minutes. Let cook for 30 seconds, then remove from the heat.
Whisk in the butter until combined, then the chocolate and vanilla extract. Strain through a mesh strainer into a large bowl.
Cover the surface of the pudding with plastic wrap or lightly greased parchment (this prevents a skin from forming on the top of the pudding.) Chill for at least 4 hours, or over night. Don’t skim on the cooling time here. The pudding must be cold before going to the next step.
Slice bananas and stir into the pudding. Chill for another 4-8 hours.
Lightly break up the chocolate cookies and mix into the pudding. Transfer to serving dish of your choice, garnish with whipped cream (if using) and serve.