The Banana Trifle

“I’m not asking much, just a token, really, a trifle…” ~ Ursula, ‘The Little Mermaid

To be fair, I don’t really know or care whether this is a proper trifle. It’s the recipe that Magnolia Bakery allegedly uses for their banana pudding, but for all I know it’s an internet hoax. It doesn’t really matter – anything that uses instant pudding mix and condensed milk has to be good. Three cups of heavy cream whipped into a peaking frenzy can’t be bad either. The online comments raved about this one, and if it was good enough to approximate, or actually be, something from Magnolia Bakery, that seemed a decent-enough pedigree for me.

There’s nothing tricky about this trifle; mostly it’s about the assembly and properly-plotted timing for the pudding to set and then the trifle to rest. This was my first time whipping cream (I’ve only ever whipped ass before), but thanks to the Kitchen Aid mixer it went quite smoothly, and soon enough there were peaks and fluff and I was folding it in like a real functioning person. For some of us, it’s the small kitchen victories that mean the most. Here’s the recipe, followed by a few scant hints of what I learned on this culinary journey.

Magnolia Bakery’s (Alleged) Banana Pudding


  • 1 ½ cups water
  • 2/3 cup instant vanilla pudding mix
  • 1 (14-ounce) can sweetened condensed milk
  • 3 cups heavy cream
  • 1 (12-ounce) box vanilla wafers
  • 4 bananas, sliced thinly into coins


Mix together the water, pudding mix, and sweetened condensed milk until smooth. Refrigerate for at least 4 hours, or overnight until it sets up.

Whip heavy cream until soft peaks form. Working in thirds, fold the whipped cream into the pudding mixture until well incorporated.

In a trifle bowl, layer vanilla wafers, sliced bananas, and pudding mixture; continue until you’ve used up all the pudding mixture. Refrigerate for at least a few hours before serving so the wafers have a chance to soften. {Yields 12 servings}

A few tips I gained via the internet and this virgin experience: chill the mixing bowl and paddle before you whip the cream, and add a few drops of the very best vanilla extract. Martha insists. The recipe originally called for letting the trifle rest for an hour, but I let it sit overnight, ensuring that those vanilla wafers had a chance to soften and become like a sponge cake – the end result was wonderful.

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