Perfect custard isn't difficult, but practice makes perfect. Custards are the soul of many great desserts. They are also essential comfort food. In some communities, making proper egg custard was part of the registered nurse licensing exam until the 1970s. Custards do make us feel better.
1 cup granulated sugar, divided
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
Dash of salt
2 cups whole milk
4 large eggs, separated
1 tablespoon butter
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
48 vanilla wafers
4 large bananas (2 1/2 lb. unpeeled; about 6 cups when thinly sliced)
How to Make It
Preheat oven to 325°. Whisk together 3/4 cup sugar, flour, and salt in a large heavy saucepan. Gradually whisk in milk. Whisk in egg yolks. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly with a heatproof spatula, 8 to 10 minutes or until pudding thickens and just begins to bubble around the edges. Remove from heat, and stir in butter and vanilla.
Arrange one-third of the vanilla wafers in the bottom of 6 (6-oz.) custard cups. Cover with one-third of the banana slices. Pour one-third of the warm pudding over the bananas. Repeat the layers twice more.
Beat egg whites (at room temperature) in a large bowl at medium speed with an electric mixer until foamy. Increase mixer speed to high, and add remaining 1/4 cup sugar, 1 Tbsp. at a time, beating until mixture is glossy and stiff peaks form (2 to 4 minutes). Spread meringue over warm pudding, spreading and sealing to edge of dish.
Bake at 325° for 15 to 20 minutes or until meringue is golden. Cool on a wire rack 30 minutes. Serve slightly warm, or cool completely and refrigerate until chilled.
From the kitchen of Mrs. Julian Moats, March 1982, Birmingham, Alabama
Tips: Use firm, ripe bananas with a few brown speckles. Older bananas quickly darken in the pudding. Bananas keep better when left attached to the crown until needed. If you want them to last, keep them away from fresh apples, which make them ripen quicker. On the other hand, if you need to ripen up green bananas, place them in a brown paper bag with an apple overnight.
The Southern Living Community Cookbook, copyright 2014