In the south, banana pudding is a quintessential summer dessert. It is a valued traditional fare like cheesecake is to New Yorkers. Despite all of its southern charm, traditional banana pudding harbors an enormous amount of calories and saturated fat. As much as I love traditional recipes they don’t quite fit into a healthy lifestyle I try to lead. I needed to find balance, a way to slim down traditional recipes without losing their classic flavors.
I usually have bananas on hand because both of my daughter’s love them. Problem is both of my daughter’s love them and the second I use them for a recipe they will request them all day and refuse to eat anything else. Thankfully, my preschooler has been particularly picky lately and has not been requesting bananas while my youngest has had tummy troubles from the formula to milk transition and definitely does not need anymore binding foods. This caused my bunch of bananas to hit the overly ripe stage and make them free to use for baking.
Now that I had bananas I had to figure out how to shave down the average traditional recipe’s 800 calories, 49 grams of fat, and 19 grams saturated fat without losing the taste everyone falls in love with upon first bite. My first idea was to enhance the banana flavor in order to compensate for the loss of richness sacrificed along with the heavy cream. I know from my culinary school days that when you roast a banana the naturally occurring sugars concentrate and take on a caramelized flavor. This would allow me to boost the flavor of the custard and reduce the amount of added sugar as well. The only problem with this approach is the texture of the roasted bananas becomes too soft to slice for the banana layers that adorn the custard base. My solution was to roast only the bananas needed for the custard as they would be mashed anyway and keep the sliced bananas fresh so they would retain their shape and texture.
To finish up my recipe makeover I swapped 2% milk for the heavy cream or half & half found in traditional recipes. The added richness from the roasted bananas more than made up for the taste lost along with the fat. For the topping I used light whipping cream over heavy cream to save even more calories and fat. Even though the whipped topping doesn’t hold a stiff peak like it would have if made with heavy cream, it is not necessary for this recipe. After all the tweaking, this recipe saves over 500 calories, 44 grams of fat, and almost 17 grams saturated fat per serving without losing a bit of good ole’ southern charm!
Note: If you are not serving the entire pudding right away you will want to prepare just enough whipped cream for what you are serving rather than spreading the full amount across the entire pudding as the final layer. This whipped cream is not stabilized in order to save calories and fat so it will lose its hold over time (approximately 2 hours of holding time). Rather than ruining the entire pudding due to weeping, simply whip up some fresh whipped cream with each serving.
Skinny Roasted Banana Pudding
- 5 ripe Bananas; unpeeled (about 2 pounds)
- 2 cups 2% reduced-fat Milk
- 2/3 cup Sugar; divided
- 2 tbsp. Cornstarch
- ¼ tsp. Salt
- 2 large Eggs
- 1 tbsp. Unsalted Butter
- 2 tsp. Vanilla Extract
- 1 cup Whipping Cream
- 45 Vanilla Wafers; divided
- Preheat oven to 350°. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Place 2 unpeeled bananas on the prepared baking sheet. Bake for 40 minutes. Carefully peel and place roasted bananas in a small bowl. Mash with a fork until smooth or use an immersion blender. Peel and cut remaining bananas into ½-inch thick slices.
- Combine milk and 1/3 cup sugar in a saucepan over medium-high heat. Bring to a simmer but do not boil.
- In a medium bowl combine milk, remaining 1/3 cup sugar, cornstarch, salt, and eggs. Stir well with a whisk. Gradually add the hot milk mixture to the sugar mixture, stirring constantly with a whisk. Return the newly combined mixture to the pan and cook over medium heat until thick and bubbly, stirring constantly, about 3 minutes. Remove from heat and add mashed bananas, butter, and vanilla, stirring until the butter melts. Place pan in a large ice-filled bowl for 15 minutes or until mixture comes to room temperature, stirring occasionally.
- Whip cream to stiff peaks. Fold half of the whipped cream into the cooled pudding mixture. Spread 1 cup of custard evenly into the bottom of an 11-x-7 inch baking dish or individual ramekins. Top with 20 vanilla wafers and half of the banana slices. Spoon half of the remaining custard over the banana slices. Repeat procedure by placing 20 vanilla wafers, remaining banana slices, and remaining custard. Spread the remaining whipped cream evenly over the pudding layers. Crush the remaining 5 vanilla wafers and sprinkle over the top. Refrigerate for 1 hour or until chilled. Serve.