Cook first 3 ingredients in a large skillet over medium heat, stirring constantly, 2 to 3 minutes or until bubbly. Add bananas; cook 2 to 3 minutes or until thoroughly heated. Remove from heat.
Whisk together 3/4 cup granulated sugar, next 3 ingredients, and 4 egg yolks in a heavy saucepan. Cook over medium-low heat, whisking constantly, 8 to 10 minutes or until a pudding-like thickness. (Mixture will just begin to bubble and will hold soft peaks when whisk is lifted.) Remove from heat, and stir in vanilla.
Divide half of banana mixture, pudding, and wafers among 8 (1-cup) ramekins or ovenproof glass dishes. Layer with remaining banana mixture, pudding, and vanilla wafers.
Beat 4 egg whites at high speed with an electric mixer until foamy. Add remaining 1/4 cup granulated sugar, 1 Tbsp. at a time, beating until stiff peaks form and sugar dissolves (2 to 4 minutes). Spread meringue over ramekins. Place ramekins on a baking sheet.
Bake at 325° for 15 to 20 minutes or until meringue is golden. Let cool on a wire rack 30 minutes.
For the best flavor, choose firm, ripe bananas with brown speckles.
Wonderful dessert. My daughter and I made this together and she had to cook the pudding longer than the recipe required for it to thicken. When I make this next time I will add walnuts or pecans to add some texture.
I have to admit, I don't generally like banana pudding. Even this version didn't wow me. However, my guests devoured theirs and thought it was excellent. I, like one other reviewer, had trouble getting the pudding to set up (an extra 8 mins. and a temperature boost helped). Bottom line, I would make this again for special occasion guests, but not for myself.
I opted to make this in a glass dish. The brown caramelized bananas made it less appealing to the eye. The combination of the warm bananas and the warm pudding made the wafers and bananas a little softer than I prefer, it had a good flavor but not significantly different than the traditional recipe.
This dessert is very sexy and impressive. I made it in the ramekins like pictured but I must admit I did have a little trouble with the pudding setting up. I had to cook it an extra 5 minutes but with a little patience it finally set up. Again worth the effort and all the whisking. Super yummy!!
I'm not normally a fan of banana pudding. I can take it or leave it - mostly leave it. But this recipe is DIVINE. I made it (so you know it's easy to make!) and it was consumed with warp speed. We loved it and I will make it again.