Looking for a cool summer dessert? Go bananas

Special to The Washington PostJune 25, 2014 

The Nilla wafers are still here, but the pudding is a classic cornstarch-thickened milk version with no eggs, and flavored with vanilla two ways. If you’re a cookie lover, feel free to add up to twice as many wafers.

Instead of being topped with whipped cream, the pudding is bruleed with a little brown sugar. If you don’t have a small kitchen torch, there’s a broiler option. You’ll need four 8-ounce parfait or sundae glasses.

MAKE AHEAD

The parfaits need to be refrigerated for at least 5 hours before serving. Bring them to room temperature for 30 minutes before applying the bruleed topping.

Banana Pudding Parfaits  •  cup granulated sugar

 •  21/2 tablespoons cornstarch

 •  1/8 teaspoon salt

 •  1/2 vanilla bean, split lengthwise in half

 •  2 cups low-fat milk (2 percent)

 •  2 teaspoons vanilla extract

 •  16 Nilla wafers (about 2 ounces total)

 •  1 large or 2 small bananas, plus more for garnish

 •  Light brown sugar, for garnish

Combine the granulated sugar, cornstarch and salt in a heavy-bottomed, medium pot. Use a small knife to scrape the seeds out of the vanilla bean halves. Add the scrapings to the sugar mixture, using your fingers to blend them in. Pour in cup of the milk, mixing to form a runny paste. Slowly add the remaining 12/3 cups milk, whisking to incorporate. Drop in the scraped vanilla bean halves. Place the pot over medium heat; cook, stirring, until the mixture starts to thicken, 4 to 5 minutes. Reduce the heat to medium-low; cook, stirring, until the mixture starts to boil; let boil for 1 minute. Remove from the heat.

Remove the vanilla bean halves; discard them or reserve for another use. Add the vanilla extract and whisk to combine. Steep/cool for 10 minutes.

To build the parfaits, place a few wafers in each glass — one flat on the bottom and a few standing up around the inside of the glass cup. Gently spoon a few tablespoons of pudding over the bottom wafer. Place a few slices of banana over the pudding, then top with a few wafers. Cover them with pudding, add a few more slices of banana and cover with pudding. You should have about 1/2 cup of pudding in each parfait; make sure to cover the banana slices completely so they don’t discolor. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 5 hours.

When ready to serve, remove from the refrigerator and let the parfaits sit at room temperature for 30 minutes.

To garnish, either top with an additional slice of banana, or brulee the top by sprinkling the surfaces lightly with brown sugar and heating until bubbling and browned with a kitchen torch, taking care to avoid heating the glass. Alternatively, place a few banana slices on an aluminum foil-lined baking sheet. Top each slice with brown sugar and either heat with a kitchen torch or run under the broiler until the sugar is bubbly and browned in places. Serve within 30 minutes of bruleeing, or the sugar will start to dissolve and turn into a syrup.

Nutrition information per serving: 250 calories, 5 g protein, 46 g carbohydrates, 5 g fat, 3 g saturated fat, 10 mg cholesterol, 190 mg sodium, 0 g dietary fiber, 27 g sugar

Yield: Makes 4 servings From Stephanie Witt Sedgwick; the vanilla pudding is adapted from a recipe in “The Joy of Cooking” by Irma S. Rombauer, Marion Rombauer Becker and Ethan Becker (Scribner, 1997).

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