[RECIPE] Banana Pudding Tiramisu

Banana Pudding Tiramisu 

Now that you're (hopefully) all done with the stress of filing your taxes, treat yourself to something sweet! Banana pudding is a southern classic that has been making its rounds on the dinner tables of my family members for years I knew I wanted to play around with its classic flavor and make something a bit more modern.  Tiramisu kept invading my mind for a few reasons: 1) I have never made tiramisu though I love it and never miss an opportunity to order some whenever I visit an Italian restaurant, 2) The silkiness and richness of it seemed perfect to couple with bananas and rum and finally, 3) I wanted to create a version that wasn't very intimidating and was quite simple to make for those who might be scared of the term "tiramisu", namely me!  

Well let's just say I was on to something.  I kept the lady fingers that are famous for tiramisu but used cream cheese to make the recipe a bit more accessible if you don't have mascarpone cheese on hand.  Lastly, I added in some crushed nilla cookies on the top to give that banana pudding flavor.  Clearly perfection happens when the American South and Italy blend desserts.  

Ingredients
For the Banana Pudding 
2 (8 ounce) cream cheese packages, room temperature
1 1/4-1/2 (14 ounce) cans sweetened condensed milk (I am cutting down my sugar so I used 1/4 extra cup)
1 5 ounce package instant banana pudding mix
1 5 ounce package instant vanilla pudding mix
2 cups cold milk
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 8 ounce container thawed frozen whipped topping 
4-5 large bananas sliced
1 17.5 ounce package ladyfingers 
12 vanilla wafers, crumbled

For the Rum Mixture
1 stick butter
1/2 cup packed brown sugar 
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 cup rum


Directions
For the Banana Pudding 
In the bowl of a mixer, beat cream cheese until nice and fluffy.  Slowly add in sweetened condensed milk, banana pudding, vanilla pudding, cold milk and vanilla extract.  Beat until well incorporated.  Slowly fold half of whipped topping into the banana pudding.

For the Rum Sauce
In a medium sized pan or pot, add butter, brown sugar, vanilla extract, cinnamon and rum and bring to a boil.  Remove from heat and allow to cool for 20 minutes.

To assemble the tiramisu
Arrange a full row of ladyfingers at the bottom of a 9x13 sized baking pan.  Pour 1/4 of warm rum sauce over ladyfingers to soak them.  Next add slices of 2 bananas over the ladyfingers and pour another 1/4 of warm rum sauce over bananas.  Take half of the banana pudding mixture and smooth over the top of the sliced bananas.  Next create another layer by repeating all steps starting with adding another row of ladyfingers, pour rum sauce on ladyfingers, add sliced bananas, pour remaining rum sauce and finally add the rest of the banana pudding mixture.  Lastly, take remaining half of whipped topping and spread over the top of the tiramisu.  Finish the top of the tiramisu with crumbled wafers over whipped topping.  Place the baking pan in the refrigerator for at least 4 hours before serving.

Jocelyn Delk Adams is the founder of Grandbaby Cakes, a food blog inspired by her grandmother that is devoted to classic desserts, modern trends and showcasing the pastry and sweets field in an accessible way. She hopes to inspire a new generation of bakers and dessert enthusiasts to learn to bake and not feel guilty about enjoying dessert.  Visit her at www.grandbaby-cakes.com.