My favorite part about family gatherings or parties is dessert. It’s an opportunity to be playful with your food and relish in sweet and decadent flavors. Growing up, banana pudding was at the center of our potlucks, graduations, funerals, baby showers and weddings. It was a dessert that everyone could agree on. Many years later, I found myself craving the banana pudding that the elders in my family made. I set out on a journey to find ways to bring a breath of fresh air to this classic dessert. This recipe takes inspiration from the dozens of tiramisu I’ve ordered at Italian restaurants when I was craving something delicately sweet, rich, and creamy. My take on this layered dessert features layers of espresso-dipped vanilla wafers, mascarpone and vanilla filling, sliced bananas, and a light dusting of cocoa powder. I’ve taken my favorite components of both desserts and fused them together. The result? A dish that’s perfect for making ahead for your upcoming dinner party (or just a late-night treat.
Technique Tips: Avoid using unripe bananas — they have a bitter flavor and firm texture, which won’t work in this dessert. Instead, use spotty bananas, which have a sweeter flavor and softer texture.
Classic tiramisu features ladyfingers that are dipped into espresso before layering. However, in this recipe, vanilla wafers are used as a nod to the traditional component in banana pudding. Don’t dip the wafers in the espresso for more than a few seconds to prevent them from falling apart and becoming overly soft.
Be sure to allow the dessert to rest in the fridge for at least six hours before serving. You want to be sure that all the flavors have reached their peak and that all the layers have had time to mellow together.
In a large bowl or a stand mixer fitting with the whisk attachment, whip together the mascarpone cheese, heavy cream, sugar, instant pudding mix and ground cinnamon.2.
In a medium bowl, combine the espresso and coffee liqueur. Dip the vanilla wafers in the espresso mixture and lay the first half of the wafers in a single layer on the bottom of an 11x9'' baking dish.3.
Spread half of the whipped cream mixture over the wafers then top with sliced bananas. Repeat with the remaining espresso-dipped wafers and whipped cream mixture. Top with remaining sliced bananas and wafers.4.
Lightly dust the top with cocoa powder and gently cover with plastic wrap. Refrigerate for at least 6 hours, or up to overnight, before serving.