Old-Fashioned Banana Pudding

I recently had a craving for banana pudding. I don’t know why banana pudding of all things popped into my head, but I couldn’t stop thinking about it.

So I had to make it. Plus, I love Nilla wafers and they’re layered in the pudding and sprinkled on top. Over time, they soften from the pudding but still retain some crunchiness, I’m in heaven.

 3/4 cup granulated sugar
 1/4 cup all purpose flour
 pinch salt, optional and to taste
 2 cups 2% milk
 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
 3 large eggs
 about 50 Nilla Wafers, divided (I prefer the Reduced Fat version; substitute with graham crackers if necessary)
 3 to 4 large/XL ripe bananas, sliced into 1/4-inch rounds (use ripe bananas not over-ripe, they’re too mushy)
 about 3/4 cup coarsely chopped Nilla Wafers, for sprinkling (about 20-25 wafers)

Get everything you need out and ready before beginning because you’ll be busy whisking and read the recipe over, at least twice, in full.
In a medium sauce pan combine the sugar, flour, optional pinch of salt, and pour the milk over it.
Heat this together over medium heat until it begins to boil gently, whisking quite frequently so that pudding skin doesn’t form on the bottom of the pan. Keeping the heat at medium is advised because higher heat will likely cause the milky mixture to scorch. It took a good 15 minutes of the pot appearing to do absolutely nothing for my pudding to finally begin to barely boil because I was compulsively whisking.
After you see the mixture boil, whisk continually for the next 2 to 4 minutes, or until the pudding has thickened. A transition comes when the pudding gets thicker by the stroke. Use your judgment and when you think the pudding has thickened up sufficiently, take it off the heat.
Whisk in the vanilla; set aside.
In a glass measuring cup, whisk together 3 eggs (using the same whisk is fine).
Add about 1/4 cup of the hot pudding mixture to the eggs, whisking the whole time to temper the eggs so they don’t scramble.
Slowly pour the contents of the measuring cup into the sauce pan, whisking the entire time so you don’t scramble the eggs.
Return the pan to the stove, and cook over medium heat for about 2 to 4 minutes, whisking the whole time. This cooks the eggs. You’ll know when the pudding is done and you can take it off the heat. It will be thick, creamy, and will look like pudding. It thickens up as it cools so don’t over-cook it or it can get a little too firm. Take it off the heat; set aside, whisking every few minutes so skin doesn’t form.
In an 8×8, 10×7, or similar sized pan (9×9 is too big) make one even flat layer of Nilla wafers, covering the entire base of the pan (about 24 wafers).
Top with banana slices in an even flat layer, covering the wafers.
Whisk pudding and pour half over the bananas, smoothing lightly with a spatula.
Repeat the layers, making one flat layer of wafers, another layer of bananas, and top with remaining pudding, smoothing the top lightly with a spatula.
Cover with plasticwrap and refrigerate the pudding for at least 4 hours, or overnight.
Before serving, evenly sprinkle the chopped wafers over the pudding.

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