Food and Drink

Still a classic, chocolate banana pudding is a mainstay at cookouts and campfires

Old-fashioned banana pudding gets a hit of chocolate from wafers and a light dusting of cocoa powder just before serving. Neglected bananas usually have a special place in my heart as they add natural sweetness to breads, cakes and granola. But for this pudding, less-ripe fruit holds up to slicing and layering with a vanilla custard base and a combination of classic Nilla and thin chocolate wafers. For a gluten-free version, look for uncoated GF cookies as they will absorb the flavors better than those coated with a glaze. The custard comes together with a bit of patience; good vanilla extract keeps it simple but try adding a shot of bourbon or rum if you’re feeling festive. These can also be made in smaller bowls for individual portions. A big batch of pudding makes for a great way to contribute to a potluck or end a meal around a campfire. — Kim Sunée

Chocolate banana pudding

3/4 cup granulated sugar

1/3 cup cornstarch

1/2 teaspoon salt

5 large egg yolks

4 cups whole milk (or 2%)

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

1 tablespoon unsalted butter

1 (9-ounce) box chocolate wafers

6 ounces (about 1/2 of an 11-ounce box) Nilla wafers

3 to 4 bananas, depending on size, cut into ¼-inch slices

1 cup heavy cream, for whipping plus 1 tablespoon confectioner’s sugar

Cocoa powder, for dusting

Optional other toppings: toasted coconut, toasted slivered almonds, sliced bananas or strawberries

• Place a fine-mesh sieve over a medium bowl; set aside. Place in a medium saucepan sugar, cornstarch, and salt, and egg yolks; whisk just to combine. Turn heat to medium and whisk in milk a little at a time. Heat mixture over medium heat, stirring constantly, until thickened and just beginning to bubble, seven to nine minutes. Note: Keep an eye on heat; if too high and mixture starts to curdle, reduce heat. After mixture thickens slightly over medium heat, reduce heat medium-low and continue to cook, stirring constantly, one minute more. Remove from heat and pour mixture into fine-sieve and use back of spatula to press mixture through sieve into bowl. Stir in vanilla and butter. Let cool slightly. Place a round of parchment on surface of custard and chill in fridge about 45 minutes to 1 hour.

• Crush chocolate and Nilla wafers with hands into large pieces and layer half of wafers in bottom of a 2-quart capacity bowl or baking dish. Top with banana slices; top with half of custard. Layer with remaining wafers and finish with remaining half of custard. Cover with plastic wrap and chill until custard is cold and cookies have softened, six to 24 hours. Just before serving, whip cream with confectioner’s sugar until soft peaks form. Spread over custard and top with cocoa powder, using sieve for even dusting.

Kim Sunée

Kim Sunée is a bestselling author ("Trail of Crumbs: Hunger, Love, and the Search for Home," "A Mouthful of Stars," "Everyday Korean: Fresh, Modern Recipes for Home Cooks") and a former magazine food editor. She's based in Anchorage. For more food and travel, visit