Given Southern Living and Cook’s Country magazines’ similar focus on comfort food staples, their different takes on banana pudding in recent issues was a little surprising,
Having grown up on versions much like Cook’s Country’s “Rich and Creamy Banana Pudding” in the August/September 2010 issue, I opted to put the June Southern Living magazine‘s lighter take to the test, though shaving calories and fat–the good stuff–might border on sacrilege. In the end it was as delicious as it was (somewhat) guilt-free.
The test kitchen’s secret was substituting fat-free sweetened condensed milk to the pudding base, eliminating the need for much additional sugar. And even then, that was incorporated into the meringue topping. For comparison’s sake, Cook’s Country’s banana pudding called for sugar in both the pudding and its whipped topping.
The use of low-fat milk and reduced-fat vanilla wafers further cut calories, fats and carbs. And though I typically choose lighter versions of ingredients like these even when the recipe doesn’t specify them, I still had my doubts about the taste.
That’s because Cook’s Country magazine detailed the slimy bananas and soggy wafers encountered along its quest to produce the richest, creamiest, banana-iest pudding yet. So I questioned how Southern Living’s banana pudding would hold up.
Turns out, pitting them against each other wasn’t completely fair. Basically, if you like your banana pudding chilled, Cook’s Country’s approach will be more your style. Or if you’d rather have the treat cooled–but not refrigerated–straight out of the oven, Southern Living’s recipe will satisfy your taste buds.
Another plus for the Southern hostessing handbook’s banana pudding was its party prep step–baking it in ramekins perfect for personal servings. As for the taste, I’m a little torn. I’ve enjoyed this dessert both ways, but I preferred Southern Living’s version cooled out of the oven. The bananas weren’t slimy, and the wafers weren’t soggy–a little crisp, but I like them that way.
The final verdict? Southern Living’s banana pudding would definitely be a blessing if you overdid it on the main courses at cookouts this summer. Filling and delicious, it’s not overly rich or sweet, so even if you were “forced” to make room for dessert, you might not be as miserable opting for a lighter version like this one.