Good recipes often include a good story and one of our family’s favorite recipes is also one of our family’s favorite stories. It’s about banana pudding.
My late father-in-law, Judge Darwin M. Maples, always kept family and the folks in his circle on their toes with a never-ending push to constantly do a better job at whatever they were tackling. That wasn’t limited to the courtroom; it involved every facet of life including culinary arts. He never complimented my late mother-in-law on her cooking. Instead, he always finished a meal saying, in jest, it was “fair.” It was his way of inspiring her to continuously improve.
My favorite recipe from my mother-in-law was her banana pudding. Actually, that recipe came from the late Juanita Havens Goff Ballinger, who worked in the Jackson County Circuit Clerk’s office during my father-in-law’s tenure as a circuit judge. Juanita often took banana pudding to share with courthouse staff, and Judge Maples always came home raving about it. My mother-in-law, Minnie Ellen Maples, finally asked Juanita for the recipe and began making it herself. However, my father-in-law constantly insisted that Juanita’s tasted better. Mrs. Maples contended Juanita must have left out a key ingredient in the recipe. All the rest of us family members thought Mrs. Maples made it deliciously. Regardless, her persistence in making the dessert appetizing for Judge Maples kept plenty of banana pudding on their table.
If you’d like to try your hand at “Juanita’s Banana Pudding” see the recipe below!
Juanita’s Banana Pudding
- 1 ½ to 2 boxes vanilla wafers
- 6-8 ripe bananas
- 2 large (5 oz. each) boxes instant vanilla pudding
- 2 cans (14 oz. each) sweetened condensed milk
- 3-3 ½ cups regular milk
- ½ cup sugar
- 1 large cool whip (16 oz.)
- 1 small (3 oz.) jar coffee mate
Combine 2 boxes of vanilla pudding and 3 to 3 ½ cups of regular milk (gradually add milk). Then, add 2 cans of sweetened condensed milk. It is important to add the regular milk first to create the pudding before adding the sweetened condensed milk. Add ½ cup sugar. Add more regular milk if needed.
Combine cool whip and coffee mate. The mixture will appear dry. Add regular milk until spreading consistency is obtained.
Place vanilla wafers in the bottom of a 9×13 inch dish and completely cover it with a layer of banana slices. Add a layer of pudding. Repeat. Top with cool whip mixture. Sprinkle topping with a few crushed vanilla wafers.
Refrigerate and enjoy!