Banana pudding. ‘Nanner puddin’. Whatever you call it, it brings back childhood memories of deep bowls of sweet goodness, quick gobbling up of leftover Nilla Wafers, of licking the spoon clean. Nostalgia in a bowl.
If you’re not familiar with banana pudding, it’s a (mostly Southern) layered trifle-style dessert made from pudding (vanilla or banana), fresh banana slices, Nilla Wafers or ladyfingers, and some sort of meringue or Cool Whip topper if you’re fancy. There are a thousand recipes and philosophies surrounding the dish, and it seems like every little old Southern lady has her own tried-and-true recipe – some even come out a radioactive shade of yellow and are still fabulous.
My version takes the essential ingredients for a successful ‘nanner puddin’ – pudding, bananas & Nilla Wafers – and transforms them into a cold summer lactose-free dessert. It works. It’s not quite the same as tucking into a huge bowl of silky goodness, but it is a good treat nonetheless.
A note about using dairy-free milk in making pudding: Your box (if you buy Jello brand at least) will say that instant pudding cannot be made with soy milk. It lies. The box also calls for 2 cups of cow milk. Forget that too. If you halve the milk, soy sets up just fine. If you were to use the full 2 cups, the result would be a watery mess; but if you use 1 cup, the pudding sets up nice and stiff. You won’t get as much yield, but if lactose isn’t your friend, this is a small price to pay.
Banana Pudding Pops
1 package fat free instant Vanilla pudding
1 cup Silk soy milk (I would imagine almond milk would work too)
1 large handful Nilla Wafers
1 1/2 Tbsp. butter
1 banana, sliced thin
In a medium bowl, whisk the pudding mix and milk. Stick in the fridge and let set up at least an hour.
When your pudding is set and ready to go, crush the wafers and put into a small bowl. Melt the butter, add to the wafers, and mix well. We’re essentially making pie crust crumbles. I suppose you could omit the butter, but I wanted something that would help bind the crumbs and hopefully make them freeze in a pop without crumbling and dumping half in my lap. Success!
Slice your banana and set close by.
Fill your popsicle receptacle in layers, starting with a little pudding and adding layers of crust and banana as you go until you reach the top. Make sure each layer of crust is anchored in a layer of pudding and take care to not make these layers too thick or you risk creating an un-structurally sound pop. I made sure to end with pudding as well for the same reason. Also, make sure to bang your molds in between layers so you don’t get a bunch of empty bubbles. This isn’t the most easy thing to do with something like a rocket mold, but we work with what we have.
Freeze a few hours to overnight.
Makes 2 full and 4 almost full rocket pops. Next time I might add a drop of extra vanilla to the pudding and maybe experiment with an additional 1/4 cup of milk – I think the pudding mix can support it (it was on the thick side), but I have not tested that theory yet. If things are looking a little slack, add more banana to fill the space.