One of my all time favorite desserts– ALL TIME, I tell you– is Banana Cream Pie. I suppose purists might object to my using Jell-O pudding as a base, though, so maybe we want to call it Banana Pudding Pie? The jumping off point for this is, of course, the infamous Banana Pudding of the south–loads of fluffy Cool Whip, mounds of vanilla pudding, banana slices and lots of Nilla Wafer cookies lining the pan, softened from sitting in the pudding. Personally, one of my favorite secret tricks is to use half vanilla pudding and half banana-flavored pudding, to up the flavor notch just a little bit, but plenty of people prefer using just the traditional vanilla.
When my friend told me she was throwing a surprise party for her boyfriend with a game theme and that his favorite dessert was Banana Cream Pie, the wheels started turning immediately. We needed two pies, but how about we theme them to the evening and make “Black and White” Banana Cream Pies, to match the dice and dominoes? All I would need to do is switch out the Nilla Wafers for some Oreos for a fun chocolate-covered banana twist! Turning Banana Pudding into pies is extraordinarily simple, and just takes the extra step of crushing the cookies and baking them into a crust. You really can’t make a simpler pie–plus, whatever doesn’t fit in the pie plate goes into a spare bowl to hide in the fridge and voila, Banana Pudding for yourself for later!
Sure, you could make a traditional homemade pudding or use homemade cookies or easily whip up your own whipped cream, but I wouldn’t dream of using anything other than Jell-O instant pudding, Cool Whip and Nilla Wafers. They all magically combine to form an impossibly light fluffy cloud of banana-vanilla-y sweetness on your tongue that is unmatchable.
Notes: The recipe below is for two pies, plus a small bowl of leftovers. If you want to make just one pie, choose only one of the cookies to make into crust and buy two of the smaller boxes of pudding (around 3.5 oz) instead of the large boxes (around 5 oz). You may have extra leftover pudding but, really, is that ever a bad thing?
Black and White Banana Cream Pies
Makes two 9″ pies
- 1 large box (about 5oz) Jell-O Vanilla Flavor Instant Pudding
- 1 large box (about 5oz) Jell-O Banana Flavor Instant Pudding
- 1 box of Nilla Wafers
- 1 tray of Oreo Cookies
- 8 Tablespoons butter, divided into two bowls (4 Tablespoons each), and melted
- 6 ripe bananas, sliced into 1/4″ thick slices
- 1 large container (16 oz) regular Cool Whip
- Set your oven to heat to 375 degrees.
- In a large bowl, whisk together the milk and both packets of instant pudding. Whisk for 2 minutes total until all of the lumps are gone. Set the bowl in the fridge to set.
- Set aside 6 Nilla Wafers and 6 Oreos for decoration later. In a food processor, process the Nilla Wafers until fine crumbs. Drizzle the melted butter over the crumbs and process for a few more pulses until the crumbs are evenly coated. Transfer the crumbs to a small bowl. Wipe out the food processor bowl and repeat with the Oreos.
- In a 9″ glass pie plate, press about 2/3 of the Nilla Wafer crumbs evenly into the bottom and up on the edges of the plate, about 1/4″ thick. Bake in the oven for 10-12 minutes and set on a wire cooling rack. Repeat the process with the Oreo crumbs in another pie plate.
- To assemble the pies: Once the crusts are cool and your pudding is set thick, arrange an even layer of banana slices in the bottom of each crust. Gently spread a layer of pudding, about 1 cup, over the bananas and to the edge of the crust, being careful not to push the banana slices around. Spread about 1 cup of Cool Whip over the pudding in an even layer all the way to the edges of the crust. Sprinkle a generous handful of cookie crumbs over each pie (matching the Oreo crumbs with the Oreo crust and so on, obviously). If you have a deep dish pie plate, repeat the process, spreading the layers all the way to the crust, but if you have a normal, more shallow pie plate, like I used above, pile the layers a little higher in the middle and don’t spread them all the way to the edge. This way you get some height, and still get all the pudding, but it doesn’t drip over the edges and make a mess.
- Verrrrrrrry carefully use a sharp knife to cut the Nilla Wafers in half. Arrange them on top of the pie and sprinkle the top with a small handful of crumbs. Repeat with the Oreos, but separate the layers and discard the cream before cutting.
- Refrigerate until chilled, at least an hour, but I prefer overnight so that the flavors have a chance to meld with each other.
- Settle down with a large slice and enjoy on a hot Southern Summer evening!