If you ask me, no true summer cookout is complete without a big, creamy, cookie-laden banana pudding dessert that is make-ahead-friendly and pleases every age. And the more often, the better.
It’s been a lot of years since was sitting there on a Saturday morning watching my fav shows on the Food Network. Paula Deen’s show to be exact. She read a letter from one of her fan’s exotling the fan’s mother’s Banana Pudding together with the recipe. Paula’s eye rolled, as you can imagine. After all, she is the queen o homemade southern fare! And she all but dared anyone’s recipe to beat her own.
And with the blink of an eye, suddenly she had all of the ingredients (thank you producers) on set, ready to rumble.
She did indeed make the viewer’s recipe, and gave it a huge two thumbs up. That was enough for me to want to give it a go, as well. And I have year after year.
However, I have tweaked it, making a few critical changes to the point I think I’ve made it my own.
While the detailed, printable recipe card follows below, let’s walk through how to make this decadent, soul-soothing, crowd-pleasing dessert.
- 2 bags Pepperidge Farm Chessmen cookies
- 8 medium ripe bananas
- 2 cups whole milk
- 5-oz. box French Vanilla Instant pudding
- 8-oz. cream cheese
- 14-oz. sweetened condensed milk
- 1 cup heavy whipping cream
- vanilla extract
You’ll start by making sure the cream cheese is out of the fridge for a couple of hours to allow it to come to room temperature. That will give you plenty of time to gather all of the other ingredients and utensils.
If I’m taking this dessert to an event, I prefer to use a disposable aluminum 9 x 13 pan. That way, any leftovers (rarely) stay with the host or salivating guests, and the dish does not need to come back to me sometime in the future.
The first step is to line the bottom of your pan of choice with the cookies from one Pepperidge Farm Chessman cookies package.
If you can, picture one of these aluminum disposable pans (or any similar size baking dish). You know the corners are rounded. That makes for a problem fitting squared cookies right into the corner of the dish. So, I start by using my kitchen shears to make a diagonal cut removing the corner of 4 cookies for the pan corners. Now, everything lines up well as I place the rest of the cookies from one bag in the bottom of the pan.
Next, get ready to use several mixing bowls. They’ll wash up easily, so don’t fret. The process is simple and goes quickly.
Placing the contents of the second bag of cookies on top of the pudding will not pose that corner problem, as by now, the pan has flared out a bit. You’ll see!
A word about whipped cream. I prefer to use the real thing, as written in the recipe below. However, you may prefer an easier option—frozen Cool Whip dessert topping from the grocery frozen foods aisle. If so, make sure it is well-thawed (overnight, usually).
- 2 bags Pepperidge Farm Chessmen Cookies
- 8 medium bananas
- 2 cups whole milk
- 1 (5-oz) box Instant French Vanilla Pudding
- 1 (8-oz) package cream cheese, at room temperature
- 1 (14-oz) can sweetened condensed milk
- 1 cup heavy whipping cream whipped with the 2 tbsp sugar and 1/2 tspn vanilla extract, to medium-stiff peaks
- 2 tbsp white granulated sugar
- 1 tspn pure vanilla extract
- Line the bottom of a 13 x 9-in dish with 1 bag of the Chessman cookies.
- In a large mixing bowl, combine the milk and pudding mix. Blend well using a handheld electric mixer.
- In another smaller bowl, place the room-temperature cream cheese and sweetened condensed milk. Using the electric mixer, mix until completely smooth.
- Add the cream cheese mixture to the pudding mixture and with a large wooden spoon, stir until well blended.
- Using the now-empty bowl you used to mix the cream cheese and condensed milk, place the heavy whipping cream, sugar, and vanilla extract and whip with the electric mixer until it reaches medium-stiff peaks consistency.
- Gently fold the whipped cream into the mixture in the large bowl.
- Slice the bananas into the mixture, and stir gently to incorporate.
- Pour the mixture over the cookies, and smooth it out.
- Place the remaining cookies in the 2nd bag over the top.
- Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until ready to serve or for at least two hours.