I've never been a fan of traditional banana pudding. For starters, so many recipes are on the soupy side and just barely flavorful. And in my opinion the meringue has little, if any, flavor. But I still like the idea of serving banana pudding for dessert because it's such a Southern treat.

Banana pudding has its roots in the South, going back more than 100 years to a time when bananas were considered an exotic food and cooks began devising delicious way to serve them. The earliest recipes called for pairing bananas and pudding with sponge cake. But when vanilla wafers appeared in the early 20th century, banana pudding, as we know it, was born. Since that time, cooks have devised more twists on the traditional, and recipes in different forms abound across the internet. Just do a search and you'll find:

* Banana pudding with caramelized bananas at

* Banana pudding with cream cheese and shortbread cookies at

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Anne Braly

* Banana pudding with strawberries tossed in to make things even sweeter, suggested by

* Banana pudding made with chocolate pudding at

Years ago, I wrote a feature on banana pudding, and some clever person sent in a recipe for banana pudding made with Nutter Butter peanut butter cookies and no meringue, which means no heating up the oven and the kitchen. So recently, when making banana pudding for the first time in more than 15 years, I followed her recipe, with a few adjustments.

In keeping with my vow to follow a modified Mediterranean diet and make more foods from scratch, I made my own vanilla pudding. Not only is it more healthful, it's an easy process that uses staples you have in your pantry and refrigerator: eggs, milk, cornstarch and vanilla extract. Of course, a package of instant vanilla pudding will work just as well. A jar of store-bought chocolate sauce works well, too, but when it's just as easy to make your own, why not?

A creamy combination of banana and peanut butter is hard to beat. Top it with chocolate sauce, and it's hard to resist.


Nutter Butter Banana Pudding With Chocolate Drizzle

1 small package instant vanilla pudding mix

1 1/4 cups milk

1 can sweetened condensed milk (fat-free OK)

8 ounces sour cream (low-fat OK)

8 ounces whipped topping, thawed (light OK)

1 package Nutter Butter cookies

3 bananas

Chocolate Sauce:

2 ounces semisweet chocolate

1 can sweetened condensed milk (fat-free OK)

1 tablespoon butter

1 teaspoon vanilla

Mix pudding and milk with an electric mixer. Add sweetened condensed milk, and mix to combine well. Chill for 10 minutes.

Remove from refrigerator, and fold in sour cream and whipped topping. Split cookies (see note) and layer on bottom of 9- by 13-inch pan or in glass trifle dish. Spread 1/3 of the pudding over the top of cookies. Slice bananas over the pudding. Repeat the layers, ending with cookies. (You may not need all of the cookies.) Store in refrigerator.

Note: Split cookies in half, separating tops and bottoms. If desired, cut each cookie half in half to make for easier serving.

For chocolate sauce: Place chocolate and sweetened condensed milk in top of double boiler, and stir until chocolate has melted and mixture is smooth and thickened, about 10 minutes. Remove from heat, and add butter and vanilla. If necessary to thin it out, add a tablespoon of water at a time.

Email Anne Braly at