It’s best not to try to make meringue on a humid day. It won’t fluff up nearly as high, and usually will weep and turn watery. You can substitute whipped cream, but make sure the pudding is thoroughly chilled.
For the Pudding
1 cup sugar
2/3 cup all purpose flour
1 dash salt
4 extra large egg yolks
3 cups 1% lowfat milk
1 tsp vanilla extract
3 Tbsp unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch pieces, at room temperature
8 oz vanilla wafer cookies, about 64
4 medium bananas
For the Meringue
4 extra large egg whites, at room temperature
1/4 tsp cream of tartar
1/2 cup sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
1. In a heavy medium sized saucepan, whisk together the sugar, flour, and salt. In a medium bowl or glass measuring cup, beat the egg yolks with some of the milk. Add the egg yolk mixture along with any remaining milk to the sugar mixture in the pan.
2. Cook the pudding over medium low heat, stirring constantly to prevent scorching. When the pudding is thickened and just beginning to boil remove it from the heat. Add the vanilla and butter and allow to cool a bit, stirring frequently, so the bananas don’t “cook” when you put the layers together.
3. In a 2 quart baking dish, arrange vanilla wafers in a single, even layer and top with one of the bananas that has been sliced about 1/4 in. thick. Top the bananas with 1/2 of the pudding. repeat the layers of wafers and bananas, but this time add vanilla wafers standing on edge around the sides of the baking dish before spreading in the remainder of the pudding. This side layer provides a crust for the meringue to cling to.
4. To make the meringue topping, preheat the oven to 350°
5. In a large, impeccably clean glass bowl (not plastic) sprinkle the cream of tartar over the egg whites and beat at high speed with and electric beater until foamy. Gradually add the sugar and beat until stiff. Beat in the vanilla until just combined.
6. Spread the meringue over the pudding taking care to seal it against all the edges. This will keep the meringue from shrinking. Add decorative swirls to the top if you like.
7. Bake the banana pudding for 15 minutes, or until lightly browned with darker tips on the swirls.
Oven Temperature: 350°F