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Vive la Second Banana: An Ode to Magnolia Bakery's #2 Dessert

It's got to be hard being the #2 dessert at the Magnolia Bakery. We imagine it's sort of like having a really famous sibling (who knows the name of the Olsen twins' other sister, for crying out loud?). This is the plight of the Banana Pudding at Magnolia Bakery; delicious as it is, what is its place really, with those famous cupcakes in the spotlight? At Cakespy we feel its pain, and want to give this sweet dessert a long-deserved moment in the spotlight. And so here, we offer this sweet ballad to Magnolia's #2 treat:
Dearest Banana pudding,

How do we love thee? Let us count the ways.

We love the way you hang out in the bakery case, slightly chilled and a little aloof...don't you know that playing hard to get just makes us want you more?

We love your inviting, pale yellow hue. 

We love the symphony of textures that you award us with in each spoonful: the rich, creamy pudding, with cakey Nilla wafer bits which have become soft and absorbed the banana flavor; the ever so slight hint of a crunch that some of the Nilla wafers still retain.

We love your sugary, heady banana scent. 

We love your little white takeout cup, like a takeaway coffee to the unknowing, but bearing a much sweeter and richer treat. 

In fact, dear pudding, the only part we don't like is coming to the last spoonful; you always leave us wanting more.

Oh, banana pudding! For you, we'd gladly wait on that line all night until the cupcake bouncer deigned to let us in; even more happily, we'd breeze right by those ubiquitous little frosted treats, making a straight path toward you, sweet, wonderful you. 

Eternal love and sweetness,


Cupcake Eating Cake

To try this ambrosial treat, visit the Magnolia Bakery at 401 Bleecker St., New York City; online at magnoliabakery.com.
Cakespy Note: Not in NYC? Happily, the Magnolia Bakery's Cookbook, More From Magnolia by Allysa Torey, contains the recipe. Although it takes a while to prepare due to letting the mixture set at various stages, it's extremely easy to make; we've copied the recipe as it appears in the book (below).
Magnolia's Famous Banana Pudding
I started making this pudding when I was in my early twenties and cooking at a Tex-Mex restaurant and bar. Customers loved it, so when we opened the bakery many years later, it seemed like a great idea to serve it there. It remains the second most popular dessert (after the cupcakes) at the bakery.
-1 (14-ounce) can sweetened condensed milk
-1 1/2 cups ice cold water
-1 (3.4oz) package instant vanilla pudding mix (they like the Jell-O Brand)
-3 cups heavy cream
-1 (12-ounce) box Nabisco Nilla Wafers (no substitutions!)
-4 cups sliced ripe bananas
-In a small bowl, on the medium speed of an electric mixer, beat together the sweetened condensed milk and water until well combined, about one minute. Add the pudding mix and beat well, about 2 minutes more. Cover and refrigerated for 3-4 hours or overnight, before continuing. It is very important to allow the proper amount of time for the pudding mixture to set. 
-In a large bowl, on the medium speed of an electric mixer, whip the heavy cream until stiff peaks form. Gently fold the pudding mixture into the whipped cream until well blended and no streaks of pudding remain.
-To assemble the dessert, select a large, wide bowl (preferably glass) with a 4-5-quart capacity. Arrange one third of the wafers to cover the bottom of the bowl, overlapping if necessary, then one-third of the bananas and one-third of the pudding. Repeat the layering twice more, garnishing with additional wafers or wafer crumbs on the top layer of the pudding. Cover tightly with plastic wrap and allow to chill in the refrigerator for 4 hours--or up to 8 hours, but no longer--before serving.


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Reader Comments (22)

Mmm Cakespy, can you come to Winnipeg and find me all the happy dessert places to go to??


Forget NYC. Santa Barbara is looking to be the "Cupcake Capital of the Country!"


December 27 | Unregistered CommenterCookie Jill

I think the banana pudding is FAR better than their (dry) cupcakes!

I have to tell you, I'm not a big fan of Magnolia, at least not the cupcakes. Too sweet, the craze is too silly for me. Amy's in the Village is my fave.

December 28 | Unregistered CommenterGeggie

I not only think the pudding tastes JUST like my southern grandma's but I too adore the fact that they put it in a little coffee to-go cup. I have no idea why I thought this was clever and cute but I always loved it. Ahhhh Magnolia and New York... how I miss you.

December 28 | Unregistered CommenterEB

What a funny coincidence- I was planning on making banana pudding today, too! Of course, a million other things have happened and I haven't yet made it, this post is definitely motivating. It sounds so good!

December 28 | Unregistered Commenterbittersweetblog

Oh my yum! Not a bad second place. My nephew, the Wall Street whiz, loves Magnolia Bakery. He's a cupcake kind of guy-with sprinkles please. I will now have to ask him to sample this for me. Looks fantastic!
All best, Jan

December 28 | Unregistered CommenterJanice C. Cartier

Ohhh man. I will send my NY pal that way.

December 28 | Unregistered CommenterKelly Jean Walden

Delicious looks pud mmmmmm... On reading the recipe and it states Nabisco Nilla Wafers I will have to find out if they sell them here in the U.K. if they do, this is one pud I'll be trying out very soon! Thanks for sharing the recipe :)

Rosie x

December 29 | Unregistered CommenterRosie

I detest bananas. But, last year when I had a serious potassium deficiency problem, my md told me to eat lots of bananas, so I forced myself to eat one every morning for breakfast. I hated them so much that I ended up just taking a big potassium horse pill every frackin day for two months instead of eating bananas...

But, your post made me want to try banana pudding. So..wow...great post.

December 29 | Unregistered CommenterMaria

I love bananas. I want to eat that picture.

December 29 | Unregistered CommenterLydia

Ya know, I always pass that recipe in the cookbook, but I think you have me sold.

December 29 | Unregistered CommenterPeabody

Mmmm, banana pudding. Love your little ballad :-)

December 29 | Unregistered CommenterVegan_Noodle

all the magnolia haters are just jealous. heart.

as long as you're into the east coast, have you considered profiling Carlo's bakery in Hoboken, NJ? they have THE most amazing cakes i've ever, ever tasted, and they've gotten some major national coverage for artsy schmartzy wedding cake designs.

December 29 | Unregistered Commentermoonrat

I am heading up to see the rents in two weeks and I will be making a beeline for Magnolias! I am frothing at the mouth for this banana pudding. Oh such ooey gooey deliciousness shall all be mine!!!!

December 29 | Unregistered CommenterEllo

Princess: Maybe a Cakewalk in Winnipeg should be next! :-)

Cookie Jill: Dammit, now we have to move.

Melisser: Yea! Up with the pudding! And with all of the other treats OTHER than cupcakes that they have!

Geggie: We simply ADORE Amy's...their layer cake by the slice is killer.

EB: I know! The takeout cup kills me too, for some reason!

Bittersweetblog: Must be a sign! Make some now! Send us a cup.

Janice: Yes! Tell him to try the pudding. He might never look back!

Kelly: Cool! We hope your buddy likes it!

Rosie: Oh no! I'm sure there *is* a substitute...but can't think of it!

Maria: That is the ultimate compliment! Of course, adding much sugar and sweetness helps the banana go down, right?

Lydia: I tried, but it just tasted like computer screen. Oh well.

Peabody: YEAH! Give it a try!

Vegan Noodle: Guess it was a little...er...poetic, huh?

Moonrat: I love Hoboken! My sister lived there for a while and we always went to I think the City Hall Bakery. I think it's different though? Like there are two Italian bakeries right near each other? Well, rest assured, next time I visit the homestead it's ON MY LIST!

Ello: Send us pictures! :-)

December 30 | Unregistered CommenterCakespy

banana pudding!! oooh, decadence!!

December 30 | Unregistered CommenterVeggieGirl

hhmmm... desserts of all kinds .... yummy... and cakespy art is so cute too :)

wishing you a merry christmas and an exciting new year.

poronchi :D

December 30 | Unregistered Commenterporonchi

Dang, that banana pudding looks awesome. Thanks for the recipe! I think I'll make some this weekend.

January 4 | Unregistered CommenterAnonymous

When my family went to New York this past December, our last stop on the way out of town was Magnolia's. We were struggling to leave before the New Year's Eve festivities kicked in, but we managed to pick up a few cupcakes. Before we left the store, I remembered this blog post and its stunning review of the banana pudding. We decided it was worth a try, and it blew us away. Thanks so much for the recommendation; we're hooked!

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