Banana Cream Pudding Eclairs Are The Grand Finale Your Dinner Deserves

To keep myself sane over the past few weeks, I've begun jotting down any silver linings I stumble upon. That way I can try to focus on good, positive things whenever I manage to pry my eyes away from Twitter. For instance, now that millions of people are being forced to work from home, it will be easier for me to find friends who empathize with my lifestyle. While my beloved coworkers have always had the pleasure of working in an office where they could enjoy things like human contact and free pizza every third Wednesday, I work in my home kitchen, just like 95% of the recipe developers and cookbook authors you know and love.


By now, most of you are aware of the major benefits of living where you work: commute's great, pants are optional, your supervisor is a cat. But once the shine wears off it a bit, you'll begin to realize that there are far more occupational hazards than you were prepared for. Time becomes an abstract concept. The boundaries between work and real life blur. Extended stretches of sitting on the couch cause it to develop an aesthetically unappealing ass groove that drags the whole room down. Your supervisor never stops screaming at you, and you can't make them stop because you don't speak cat. You're forced to eat three dozen eclairs in two days because you're developing a recipe and feel it's a sin to throw away food.


This is not an easy way to live, but I do it because I love you guys, and I want to stuff banana cream eclairs into all of your mouths. I needed to eat all those eclairs for the greater good. And if you decide to make these eclairs and eat all of them yourself, that's also fine, because you work at home now and are allowed to do these sorts of things. This is all okay now. Even your stupid cat can't stop you.

For the choux pastry:

  • 3/4 cup bread flour
  • 1/2 cup finely ground Nilla wafers
  • 1/2 tsp. kosher salt
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 stick butter
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 egg yolk

For the vanilla custard

  • 1 cup milk
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 2 Tbsp. cornstarch
  • 1/4 tsp. kosher salt
  • 2 Tbsp. butter
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 2 bananas, diced, later

For the caramelized banana sauce:

  • 1 banana, diced
  • 1/2 cup light brown sugar
  • 4 Tbsp. (1/2 stick) butter
  • 1/4 cup water

For the whipped cream:

  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 1 Tbsp. cornstarch
  • 1/4 cup powdered sugar
  • 3/4 tsp. vanilla

First, make the vanilla custard:

In a large bowl, vigorously whisk together the sugar, egg, egg yolk, cornstarch, and salt until smooth. Bring the milk to a boil in a medium saucepan, then gradually whisk in the egg mixture. Pour back into the saucepan and cook, stirring constantly, until the pastry cream rapidly thickens—about 1-2 minutes. Pour back into the bowl, add the butter, and whisk for about a minute before adding the vanilla extract. Place a sheet of plastic wrap directly onto the surface of the pastry cream and refrigerate until completely cool.


Next, make the choux

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit and line a baking sheet with parchment. Stir together the bread flour, finely ground Nilla wafers, and salt in a small bowl. Crack the two eggs and one yolk into a small cup and set aside.


In a medium saucepan, bring the butter and water to a boil. Stir in the dry ingredients with a wooden spoon, then turn off the heat. Grab the pot's handle firmly and vigorously stir the fledgling dough until you begin to see it leaving a film on the bottom of the pan, about 1-2 minutes. Move the dough to the bowl of a stand mixer affixed with the paddle attachment, turn to medium speed, and beat for 3-5 minutes until the dough is no longer letting off steam and the bowl is cool when you touch it with the inside of your wrist. Reduce speed to medium low and add the eggs one at a time, waiting for each to incorporate fully before adding the next. Beat for another 2 minutes, then pinch a small piece of dough between your fingers and slowly open them—if the dough stretches at least one inch, you're good; if not, beat for another minute and try again.


Put the choux into a pastry bag and pipe 8-10 eclairs onto the baking sheet. Bake for 15 minutes, then reduce the heat to 350 degrees and bake for another 30 minutes or so, until the pastry is firm to the touch. Remove the baking sheet from the oven, turn the oven off, and allow the eclairs to cool for 3 minutes before cutting them in half lengthwise with a small serrated knife. Arrange them cut-side-up on the sheet pan, then slide back into the oven to dry out for 15-20 minutes.

While the choux is drying out, make the sauce

In a small saucepan, bring the water, butter, and brown sugar to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for 5 minutes. Allow to cool completely at room temperature, then stir in the diced banana.

Make the whipped cream

Add the heavy cream, cornstarch, powdered sugar, and vanilla extract together in a cold mixer bowl, then whip the bejesus out of it until it holds firm peaks.

Finally, assemble the eclairs

Fold one third of the whipped cream into the cold vanilla custard, then fold in the 2 chopped bananas. Put into a pastry bag and pipe onto the bottoms of the eclairs, drizzle with a little bit of the banana sauce, then add the top of the eclair. Pipe the remainder of the whipped cream onto the tops, then drizzle with more banana sauce and crumbled Nilla wafers. Serve immediately.