Recipe courtesy of Virginia Willis

 Yield: 10 servings


cups whole milk

large eggs, separated 

1¼ cups sugar, divided

¼ cup all-purpose flour 

pinch fine sea salt 

teaspoon vanilla extract

50 to 70 vanilla wafers, preferably Nabisco Nilla Wafers

¼ cup butter

¼ cup firmly packed brown sugar

medium bananas, sliced ¼ inch thick 

1. Preheat oven to 350°.

2. In a medium saucepan, heat milk to a simmer. In a second medium saucepan, whisk egg yolks with 3⁄4 cup sugar until thick and light. Add flour and salt, stirring until smooth.

3. Whisk scalded milk into egg mixture, blending well. Return pan to heat. (Make sure pastry cream is perfectly smooth before letting it boil.) Whisk over medium heat until boiling. Cook pastry cream, whisking constantly, while at a gentle boil, for approximately 2 minutes. Add vanilla, stirring to combine. Strain pastry cream through a mesh sieve into a bowl. Set aside.

4. Place a layer of vanilla wafers on the bottom of a 3-quart baking dish. Spread half of pastry cream on top of wafers. Stand wafers into pastry cream all along the sides of dish. Set aside.

5. In a large skillet, heat butter over medium-high heat until foaming. Add brown sugar, cooking until melted. Add bananas, and cook, stirring to combine, for 2 to 3 minutes.

6. Spoon bananas evenly over pastry cream in baking dish. Top with a second layer of vanilla wafers. Spoon remaining half of pastry cream over wafers. Set aside.

7. In a heavy-duty stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, beat egg whites at high speed until soft peaks form. Gradually add remaining ½ cup sugar, a little at a time, beating until stiff peaks form. Spoon meringue over pastry cream, and spread evenly to cover entire surface, sealing well at edges. Using a spatula, make curls and peaks in meringue, if desired.

8. Bake in oven until lightly browned, 15 to 20 minutes. Remove to a rack, and let cool slightly. Serve warm or cold.