Red Velvet Banana Pudding

My friend’s daughter is in love with Magnolia Bakery’s Famous Banana Pudding. She inspired me to peek at the recipe in their cookbook and to try this unique, upgraded version. The book declared that this is actually the “ultimate version.” 🙂

The recipe was adapted from The Magnolia Bakery Handbook- A Complete Guide for the Home Baker: Baking Made Easy with 150 Foolproof Recipes & Techniques by Bobbie Lloyd. I used red gel food coloring and modified the method. I also layered the dessert in various individual glass serving bowls. Fun. We love red velvet anything so this was very well received! I’m not sure that it even needed the bananas. 😉

This “ultimate version” requires advanced planning. I made the cake a day in advance. I would also recommend making the pudding base a day in advance! Next time. 😉 Once the dessert has been layered, it is refrigerated another 4 hours to overnight prior to serving.

Yield: Serves up to 16 (4 to 5 quarts)

For the Red Velvet Cake:

  • 383g/13.5oz (3 1/3 cups) cake flour
  • 1 1/2 tsp fine sea salt
  • 1 1/2 sticks (3/4 cup or 170g/6oz) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 450g/16oz (2 1/4 cups) granulated sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 scant tsp red gel food coloring (or 6 T liquid red food coloring)
  • 3 T (22.5g/0.75oz) unsweetened dark cocoa powder, sifted
  • 1 1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 cups (240g/8.5oz) buttermilk
  • 1 1/2 tsp cider vinegar
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking soda

For the Pudding & Assembly:

  • 1 (14oz) can sweetened condensed milk
  • 1 1/2 cups (360g/12.7oz) ice-cold water
  • 1 (3.4oz) package instant vanilla pudding mix (preferably Jell-O brand)
  • 1 (8oz) package full-fat cream cheese, cut into 8 pieces, at room temperature
  • 3 cups (720g/25.5oz) heavy cream
  • 4 to 5 ripe, firm bananas, sliced
  • 160g (1 cup plus 1 T or 5.6oz) mini chocolate chips or chocolate shavings

To Make the Cake:

  1. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F, preferably on convection. Butter a 9×13-inch metal baking pan; line with parchment paper and butter and flour the parchment paper.
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour and salt; set aside.
  3. In a stand mixer fitted with a paddle, cream the butter on medium speed until smooth.
  4. Gradually add the sugar and beat until very light and fluffy, 4 to 5 minutes.
  5. With the mixer on medium speed, add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Scrape down the bottom and sides of the bowl and the paddle.
  6. Add the red food coloring and sifted cocoa powder to the mixer bowl.
  7. With the mixer on low speed, carefully mix until combined. Scrape down the bottom and sides of the bowl.
  8. In a liquid measuring cup, whisk together the vanilla and buttermilk.
  9. Beginning and ending with the dry ingredients, add the dry ingredients to the mixer bowl in three additions, alternating with the buttermilk. After each addition, be careful to mix just until the ingredients are incorporated. Do not ovemix. Scrape down the bottom and sides of the bowl.
  10. In a small bowl, stir together the cider vinegar and baking soda.
  11. With the mixer on low speed, carefully add the cider vinegar and baking soda mixture to the batter and combine well. Scrape down the bowl.
  12. Scrape the batter into the prepared pan.
  13. Bake for 40 to 50 minutes, or until the top springs back when touched and a cake tester inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean. (I baked mine for 47 minutes.)
  14. Let the cake cool in the pan for at least 30 minutes, then transfer the cake to a wire rack to cool completely. (The cake can be made ahead and wrapped in plastic for up to 3 days.)

To Make the Pudding:

  1. In a stand mixer fitted with a whisk, beat the condensed milk and water on medium speed until well combined, about 1 minute.
  2. Add the pudding mix and beat until no lumps remain and the mixture is smooth, about 2 minutes.
  3. Transfer the mixture to a medium bowl, cover, and refrigerate until firm, at least 1 hour or overnight.
  4. Put the room temperature cream cheese pieces in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a whisk. Beat until smooth.
  5. Add the chilled pudding to the to the cream cheese and mix until thoroughly combined and smooth, about 5 minutes. Refrigerate while you prepare the whipped cream. Clean the stand mixer bowl and whisk.
  6. In a stand mixer fitted with a whisk, whip the heavy cream on medium speed for about 1 minute; until cream starts to thicken, then increase the speed to medium-high and whip until stiff peaks form. (be careful not to over whip)
  7. With the mixer running on low speed, add the chilled pudding mixture a spoonful at a a time. Mix until well blended and no streaks of pudding remain.

To Assemble:

  1. Cut the cake into a 4×2-inch grid. (8 rectangular pieces) If preparing the dessert in individual servings, divide the cake into 16 pieces. Set aside.
  2. Select 16 individual serving bowls (or a trifle bowl or wide glass bowl with 4-5 quart capacity). (I used a variety of glasses and glass dessert dishes.)
  3. Spread 1/3 of the pudding on the bottom and layer with enough slices of the red velvet cake to cover the layer. (I used about 1/2 (slightly less) of each rationed slice of the cake, reserving crumbs for the top.)
  4. Add 1/2 of the sliced bananas (enough to cover the cake pieces) and 1/3 cup of the chocolate chips. (I used 1 tsp of chocolate chips per layer in each serving.)
  5. Repeat twice more. The second layer will be identical; the final layer will be pudding topped with a cake crumbs instead of pieces, and chocolate chips without (or with, if desired) banana slices.
  6. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 4 hours or overnight before serving.

Butterscotch Pudding

My son is a major fan of creamy comfort food. He was obsessed with this pudding and its caramel notes. ❤ I loved all of the garnishes.

This recipe for this sweet treat was adapted from The New York Times, contributed by Melissa Clark. She was able to find the perfect ratio of milk to cornstarch to prevent grittiness. I found that the pudding had to cook a little bit longer to thicken.

I topped the chilled pudding with lightly sweetened freshly whipped cream, toasted and sweetened sliced almonds, and a sprinkle of flaky sea salt. Next time, I may try candied pecans instead of almonds. 🙂 The original recipe includes several other options as well.

Yield: Serves 4

  • 4 large egg yolks
  • 3 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 3/4 packed cup/165 grams dark brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 2 cups/480 milliliters whole milk
  • 1 cup/240 milliliters heavy cream
  • 1 tablespoon bourbon or Scotch whisky, optional (I omitted it)
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • freshly whipped cream, sour cream or crème fraîche, for serving (I lightly sweetened the whipped cream with confectioners’ sugar)
  • chopped candied ginger, sliced almonds, Demerara sugar, shaved chocolate, cocoa nibs or flaky sea salt, or a combination , for garnish, optional
  1. Put egg yolks, cornstarch and salt into a large heatproof bowl (preferably with a spout), and whisk until the mixture is smooth and there are no lumps. (I used a balloon whisk and a pyrex bowl with a spout.)
  2. In a medium pot over medium heat, combine brown sugar and butter, whisking, until the brown sugar melts, 1 to 2 minutes. (I used a sauce whisk so that I could get into the edges of the pan.) Let cook, whisking constantly, until the mixture starts to smell like hot caramel and darkens slightly, about 1 minute longer. (Don’t walk away, or the mixture may burn.)
  3. Immediately pour the milk and cream into the pot. (It will bubble fiercely and seize up- the sugar clumps.) Continue to cook, whisking constantly, until the clumps melt, 2 to 4 minutes.
  4. Slowly whisk about 1/2 cup of the hot cream mixture into the bowl with the egg yolks, whisking yolks until smooth, then whisk in the remaining hot cream mixture. Pour the egg-cream mixture back into the saucepan and place it over medium heat.
  5. Cook pudding, whisking constantly especially around the bottom and edges of the pot, until it comes to a full boil. It is important to bring the pudding to a full, vigorous boil to activate the cornstarch. Otherwise, it may not set. (If you end up with thin, runny pudding, undercooking may have been the issue.) Also- it’s okay if the eggs curdle because the mixture is strained at the end.
  6. Reduce heat to medium-low and cook, stirring the mixture constantly, until it thickens enough to mound thickly on the spoon, 4 to 10 minutes. If at any point the pudding looks curdled, whisk to help smooth it out.
  7. Strain mixture through a fine sieve into a heatproof container or bowl, then stir in the Scotch or bourbon, if using, and vanilla.
  8. To prevent a skin from forming, press plastic wrap directly onto the surface of the pudding. (If you like the skin, don’t cover pudding until it cools.)
  9. Chill for at least 2 hours and up to 2 days.
  10. If garnishing the pudding with toasted sliced almonds, evenly spread them on a parchment paper-lined rimmed sheet pan; roast in a 400 degree oven for 3 to 5 minutes, or until light golden brown. Remove from the oven and place in a small frying pan. Top with granulated sugar, to taste, and cook over medium-low to medium heat just until the sugar melts and coats the almonds, about 1 to 2 minutes. Return to the lined baking sheet to cool.
  11. When serving, spoon pudding into dishes. Top with dollops of whipped cream, sour cream or crème fraîche, and any of the optional garnishes. (I incorporated some confectioners’ sugar into freshly whipped cream.)

Classic Bread Pudding

My husband requested bread pudding for his celebratory Father’s Day dessert this year. This classic dessert is second only to cheesecake in his heart. ❤

This isn’t technically another strawberry dessert… but the fresh strawberry topping definitely brought this fabulously creamy bread pudding to the next level.

The recipe was adapted from Martha Stewart.com. I omitted the raisins, modified the presentation, and added the fresh strawberry garnish. Delicious.

Yield: Serves 8 to 10

  • 2 T unsalted butter, softened, for baking dish
  • 12 ounces brioche or challah, cut into 1-inch cubes
  • 2 cups whole milk
  • 3 cups heavy cream
  • 4 large eggs, plus 1 egg yolk
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 tsp coarse salt
  • 1 T pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1/2 cup raisins, optional (I omitted them)
  • 1 cup boiling water, optional (if using raisins), plus more for pan
  • fresh strawberry slices, for garnish, optional

Strawberry Spoon Cake

There is a lot of (self-imposed!) pressure to use our beautiful freshly picked strawberries in the best possible way. 🙂 I have several treats that we make annually, but I try to select a few new things to make. I had my eye on this spoon cake after seeing it in the New York Times. I loved the name too! Spoon cake.

This recipe was adapted from The New York Times, contributed by Jerrelle Guy. I doubled the strawberries and used a larger baking dish. I also weighed the ingredients, including the berries. I may bake it in a 10-inch cast iron skillet next time.

We ate it for dessert with vanilla ice cream. It could be served as a very special breakfast as well. Delicious.

Yield: Serves 4 to 6

  • 1/2 cup/115 grams unsalted butter (1 stick), melted, plus more for greasing
  • 10 ounces/290 grams (about 2 cups) fresh, hulled strawberries (or thawed frozen strawberries)
  • 2/3 cup/150 grams packed light brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup/120 milliliters whole milk, at room temperature
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 cup/130 grams all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • vanilla ice cream, for serving
  1. Heat oven to 350 degrees, preferably on convection.
  2. Grease an 8, 9, or 10-inch (square or round) baking dish with butter. Set aside. (I used a 10-inch round ceramic baking dish.)
  3. Using your hands or the back of a fork, lightly mash the berries to release all their juices, and stir in 1/3 cup of the brown sugar. Set aside.
  4. In a medium bowl, whisk together the melted butter, remaining 1/3 cup brown sugar, milk and salt.
  5. Add the flour and baking powder and continue whisking just until the batter is smooth.
  6. Transfer the batter (it’s not much) to the greased baking dish, and spread evenly into corners.
  7. Spoon the strawberries and all their juices over the top of the cake batter.
  8. Place in the oven and bake for 20 to 25 minutes, or just when a toothpick comes out clean in the center. (I baked mine for 22 minutes in a 10-inch round dish.)
  9. Remove from the oven and allow to cool for 3 to 5 minutes before serving.
  10. Serve warm with ice cream.

Ottolenghi’s Meatball Toad-in-the-Hole

More meatballs! This is an updated version of the classic British dish. Ottolenghi describes the key elements as “well-cooked meat, crisp pancake and velvety gravy.” He modified the popular dish by using ground pork in the meatballs. It was very hearty and rich.

The complete dish was time consuming to prepare, but the components can be made separately and ahead to save time, if desired. This recipe was adapted from The New York Times, contributed by Yotam Ottolenghi. I modified the baking times.

Yield: Serves 6 to 8

Time: about 2 hours

For the Batter:

  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 cup/240 ml whole milk
  • 2/3 cup/160 ml India pale ale or another pale ale (I used Sierra Nevada)
  • 2 T Dijon mustard
  • 1 3/4 cups (225 g) all-purpose flour, sifted
  • 1 tsp kosher salt

For the Gravy:

  • 2 T sunflower or canola oil
  • 1 T (15 g) unsalted butter
  • 2 small onions (about 12 oz (350 g) total), halved and thinly sliced
  • 2 rosemary sprigs
  • 3 T balsamic vinegar
  • 1 1/2 T all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups/480 ml chicken stock
  • 1/3 cup plus 1 T/100 ml India pale ale
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

For the Meatballs:

  • 7 oz/200 g sourdough bread, crusts discarded and bread cut into 1/4-inch (1/2-centimeter) cubes
  • 3/4 cup/180 ml whole milk
  • 1 1/2 pounds/700 g ground pork
  • 4 oz/115 g pancetta, very finely chopped (I used a food processor)
  • 1/2 onion or 1 very small onion (about 3 oz/80 g), grated
  • 1/3 packed cup/20 g roughly chopped parsley
  • 4 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons lemon zest
  • Kosher salt and black pepper
  • 6 T/90 ml sunflower or canola oil
  • 2 rosemary sprigs
  1. Heat the oven to 475°F/240°C, preferably on convection.
  2. Prepare the batter: Add the eggs, milk, beer and mustard to a large bowl, and whisk vigorously until foamy, about 1 minute.
  3. Add the flour and salt to a separate large bowl, making a well in the center, and pour the egg mixture into the well, in about four increments, whisking lightly each time until the flour is just incorporated. Whisk until there are no lumps and the ingredients are just combined, taking care not to overwork the batter.
  4. Set batter aside for at least 30 minutes, or while you continue with the next step.
  5. Prepare the gravy: Add the oil, butter, onions, rosemary and vinegar to a 9-by-13-inch (23-by-33-centimeter) baking dish (tin)(Do not use pyrex/glass). Bake, stirring a couple of times during cooking, until the onions are thoroughly collapsed and browned, about 20 minutes.
  6. Whisk together the flour, stock and beer in a bowl until smooth. Add 1/2 teaspoon salt and a good grind of pepper, then pour flour mixture into the baking dish.
  7. Return gravy to the oven and bake, stirring twice throughout, until the gravy is thick and rich, 20 to 25 minutes. Discard the rosemary sprigs and keep warm.
  8. While the gravy is cooking, prepare the meatballs: Soak the bread in the milk in a small bowl and set aside until the liquid is absorbed, 10 minutes. Use your hands or a fork to break apart the bread into a lumpy mash.
  9. In a large bowl, mix together the ground pork, pancetta, onion, parsley, garlic and lemon zest with 1 teaspoon salt and a generous amount of pepper. Add the bread and use your hands to knead the mixture until it is very well mixed. Shape into 12 large meatballs.
  10. Spread 2 tablespoons oil across the bottom of a large roasting pan (tin), about 9-by-13-inches (23-by-33-centimeters) in size. (I used an enameled cast iron baking pan.)
  11. Add the meatballs and bake for 7 to 10 minutes, or until some of their liquid has been released. Transfer the meatballs to a baking sheet (tray) lined with paper towels to absorb any excess moisture. Pour the liquid released from the meatballs in the roasting pan directly into the gravy, and then wipe the roasting pan dry.
  12. Add the remaining 4 tablespoons oil to the meatball roasting pan and return to the oven until very hot and beginning to smoke, about 7 to 10 minutes.
  13. Working as quickly as possible, pour the batter into the pan (it should bubble around the edges) and then add the meatballs and 2 rosemary sprigs. Return to the oven immediately and bake for 15 minutes.
  14. Reduce the temperature to 400°F/210°C (don’t open the oven!) and bake for 20 to 30 minutes more, or until golden and well risen. (If you want, near the end of baking time (when the custard is set), you can sneak the gravy into the oven to rewarm during the last 5 minutes of baking.)
  15. Serve immediately, with the gravy alongside.

Vanilla Pudding Pops

These creamy popsicles are a great summer treat. The chilled pudding was also absolutely delicious prior to being frozen, making this a dessert that can be enjoyed year-round. 🙂

This recipe is from Martha Stewart Living’s Everyday Food. An easy crowd pleaser.

Yield: 7-10 ice pops (depending on the size of the popsicle mold)
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup cornstarch
  • 1/4 tsp coarse salt
  • 3 cups whole milk
  • 3 large egg yolks
  • 2 tsp pure vanilla extract
    1. Place a fine-mesh sieve over a medium bowl; set aside. In a medium saucepan, off heat, whisk together sugar, cornstarch, and salt.
    2. Gradually whisk in milk, mixing until ingredients are dissolved. Whisk in egg yolks.
    3. Whisking constantly, cook over medium heat until the first large bubble sputters. Reduce heat to low; continue to whisk, and cook 1 minute.
    4. Remove from heat, and immediately pour through sieve into bowl; stir in vanilla.
    5. Using a funnel, divide mixture among ice-pop molds.
    6. Chill in refrigerator until cool and thickened, about 1 hour.
    7. Insert pop sticks, and freeze until solid, at least 4 hours and up to 2 weeks.
    8. Dip molds briefly in warm water to release pops.

    Vanilla Bean Rice Pudding

    I made this dessert for my Valentine this year. ❤ He added a sprinkle of cinnamon on top!

    In part, I chose rice pudding because I wanted to make a dessert in ramekins that I had just found at an estate sale. 🙂 Thankfully, my husband is a fan. This recipe was slightly adapted from Food 52 Genius Desserts, contributed by Molly Wizenberg.

    Yield: Serves 6 to 8 (I filled 6 ramekins)

    • 1 1/2 cups (355 g) water
    • 3/4 cup (135 g) white Basmati rice
    • 1/4 tsp fine sea salt
    • 3 cups (735 g) whole milk
    • 1 cup (235 g) heavy cream
    • 1/2 cup (100 g) granulated sugar
    • 1/2 vanilla bean, split lengthwise
    • cinnamon, for serving, optional
    1. Bring the water, rice, and salt to a simmer in a large heavy saucepan over medium-high heat. Turn the heat to low, cover, and simmer gently until the water is absorbed, about 10 minutes.
    2. Pour in the milk, cream, and sugar.
    3. Scrape the seeds from the vanilla bean with the tip of a paring knife and then add the seeds and vanilla pod to the pot. Stir to combine.
    4. Turn the heat to medium-low and simmer gently, uncovered, stirring occasionally and scraping the bottom of the pot with a rubber spatula, until the rice is tender and the mixture thickens to a soft, loose pudding texture, about 30 to 40 minutes.
    5. Remove from the heat and set aside the vanilla bean.
    6. Spoon the pudding into 6 to 8 small bowls or ramekins.
    7. The pudding can be served warm or chilled. To chill, press plastic wrap onto the surface of each pudding to keep a skin from forming and refrigerate thoroughly until cold. (I prepared the pudding in the morning to serve that evening.)
    8. To serve, sprinkle with cinnamon, as desired.

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