Every woman’s life needs at least one Marilyn Monroe moment. A time when you feel as irresistible as honeysuckle to a swarm of bees.
Unfortunately, my Marilyn moment came during a friend’s summer wedding. I was a bridesmaid, so I’d gone out of my way to make sure my unruly hair didn’t ruin her special day. Everything was in place as I placed my hand in the crook of the groomsman’s arm, and then the sumbitch swung wide and walked me directly over the air-conditioning vent, where my heel got stuck in the metal grate.
I’ve probably never been as close to the Lord as I was at that moment, praying that He, in his Infinite Wisdom, would not let the entire congregation turn to behold me standing in my panties with the hem of my dress waving like a flag around my ears.
And in that moment, God spoke to me. And He said, “Leave the damn shoe.”
So, just as the processional music started, I left that heel stuck in the grate and made my way down the aisle, barefoot but with my head held high and my skirt in the down position.
Today is Marilyn Monroe’s birthday, and that’s as good an excuse as any to indulge in something as pure as a grandmother’s prayer and as naughty as stepping on a vent in a sundress on a hot summer day.
For me, that’s David Guas’ Banana Pudding with Vanilla Wafer Crumble.
I’ve eaten banana pudding all my life, but this is the first one that seemed at home in a martini glass. A thick, silky pudding spiked with banana liqueur and topped with freshly chopped bananas and vanilla wafers that have been crumbled and toasted with sugar, cinnamon and butter. Since the toppings are added just before serving, the bananas stay firm, and the crumble stays crunchy. It’s a consolation for every time you’ve had to dip into a vat of day-glo instant pudding, bruised bananas and cookies-gone-to-mush to get your fix.
It’ll put a swing in your hips and some jiggle in your wiggle.
Just stay off the church air vents.
Banana Pudding with Vanilla Wafer Crumble
Adapted from “DamGoodSweet” by David Guas and Raquel Pelzel
- 5 large egg yolks
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 1/4 cup cornstarch
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 2 cups whole milk
- 3 tablespoons banana liqueur or rum (optional)
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 2 ripe bananas
- 1 cup vanilla wafers (about 15 cookies)*
- 2 teaspoons sugar
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- Pinch of salt
- 1 tablespoon unsalted butter, melted*
- To Make the Pudding:Whisk the egg yolks, sugar, cornstarch, and salt together in a medium bowl. Set aside.
- Using a medium saucepan, bring the milk to a boil over medium-high heat. Remove from the heat, and whisk a little at a time into the egg mixture. Once the bottom of the bowl is warm, slowly whisk in the remaining hot milk.
- Pour the mixture back into a clean medium saucepan (a clean saucepan keeps the pudding from scorching; if you don’t have one, return the mixture to the previous pan), add the banana liqueur, and whisk slowly over medium to medium-high heat until it thickens, about 2 minutes. (Look for the pudding to make big, slow bubbles, like lava. The cornstarch won’t thicken the pudding until it comes to a slow boil.)
- Cook while constantly whisking until the pudding is glossy and thick, 1 1/2 to 2 minutes longer. Transfer the pudding to a clean bowl.
- Add the vanilla and butter, and gently whisk until the butter is completely melted and incorporated. Press a piece of plastic wrap onto the surface of the pudding to prevent a skin from forming. Refrigerate for 4 hours.
- To Make the Crumble: While the pudding sets, heat the oven to 325 degrees F. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper or a Silpat®, and set aside. Crush the vanilla wafers, place the crumbs in a small bowl, and add the sugar, cinnamon, and salt. Stir in the melted butter. Transfer the mixture to the prepared baking sheet. Toast in the oven until brown and fragrant, about 10 minutes. Set aside to cool.
- To Serve: Whisk the pudding until it is soft and smooth, about 30 seconds, and then divide it between 6 custard cups or martini glasses. Top with chopped bananas and vanilla wafer crumbs. Serve immediately.
Storage: If not served immediately, the pudding will keep in the refrigerator for up to 3 days, with plastic wrap intact. Sprinkle the crumbs on just before serving.
*Gluten-Free Tip: Make sure to use GF vanilla wafers and butter.