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Aunt Opal's Banana Pudding
Total 2 hours and 20 minutes (includes chilling time)
Active 25 mins
Makes 6 to 8 servings
Chip’s great-aunt Opal didn’t have children of her own, but she cooked a lot for Chip’s dad and uncle when they were kids. She was especially known for her excellent pies and this spectacular banana pudding. When Chip and I were first married, it was a staple of his mom’s, and we usually enjoyed it on Christmas Eve. I’ve loved it ever since. When I make this family favorite, I typically use my homemade whipped cream in place of dessert topping, but either is great. I usually compose the whole thing in a clear glass trifle dish, so the pretty layers are visible. You can serve it in individual cups if you prefer.
TIP: For individual servings, layer the ingredients into six to eight 8-ounce clear glasses following the same order.
Ingredients
    • One 8-ounce block cream cheese, at room temperature
    • One 14-ounce can sweetened condensed milk
    • 1 cup whole milk
    • One 3.4-ounce package instant vanilla pudding
    • 6 cups Homemade Whipped Cream (recipe follows) or one 16-ounce tub Cool Whip, thawed
    • One 11-ounce box vanilla wafers
    • 3 bananas, sliced, or as needed
    • Homemade Whipped Cream:
      • 1 pint heavy cream
      • 1/4 cup sugar
      • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
      • Pinch of sea salt
      Directions
      1. In an electric stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment (or in a large bowl with a handheld electric mixer), beat the cream cheese until smooth. Add the condensed milk, whole milk, and pudding mix. Beat on high speed for about 2 minutes, until very well blended. Add half of the whipped cream and beat just until combined.
      2. To assemble the pudding, use a 3-quart trifle bowl or other straight-sided glass bowl. (This can also be assembled as individual servings; see Cook’s Note.) Cover the bottom of the bowl with vanilla wafers, arranging them in a single layer without overlapping. Spoon about one third of the pudding on top to a depth of about 1 1/2 inches. Cover the pudding with a layer of wafers. Arrange a layer of banana slices on top of the wafers.
      3. Spoon half of the remaining pudding on top of the banana slices to a depth of about 1 1/2 inches above the first layer. Again, cover the pudding with a layer of wafers and then arrange a layer of banana slices on top.
      4. Spoon the remaining pudding over the bananas and smooth the top. Cover the pudding with a layer of wafers.
      5. Spoon the remaining whipped cream on top and smooth the surface or use the back of a spoon to form pretty swirls on the surface before serving.
      6. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and chill in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours and up to 1 day.
      1. Homemade Whipped Cream:
        1. In a large bowl, combine the heavy cream, sugar, vanilla, and salt. Beat with an electric mixer on high until fluffy and the cream holds a soft peak when you pull the beater out of the bowl.
        2. Use at once or store in a covered container in the refrigerator for up to 30 minutes.