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Banana pudding gets a vanilla wafer crumble made with a genius trick from Carla Hall, celebrity chef and host of the Wondery podcast Say Yes! With Carla Hall.
For the ultimate cookalong dinner party, check out Bobby Flay's Seared Sea Scallops with Avocado-Corn Relish on Crispy Tortillas, Rach's Chorizo and Shrimp Cheese Grits and John Cusimano's Hibiscus Sweet Tea Sangria.
For the pastry cream, sift together the cornstarch and the sugar in a metal bowl. Whisk in the egg yolks.
In the carafe of a blender, combine the milk, banana and half & half, and blend until smooth. Pour into a heavy-bottomed pot with the salt and vanilla bean seeds (adding the extract later, if using), then heat until it just comes to a boil.
Gradually whisk a little of the hot milk mixture into the egg mixture until smooth. When the bottom of the mixing bowl is warm, whisk in the remaining milk.
Pour the mixture back into the pot and whisk constantly over the heat, making sure to reach down to the bottom of the pot and along the sides, until the custard thickens. Whisking continuously, let the pastry cream come to a full boil to ensure that the cornstarch has been cooked out; taste the custard before removing entirely from the heat.
Strain the pastry cream into a large metal bowl. Stir in the vanilla extract, if using, and the butter until melted. Cover with plastic wrap and press onto the surface of the cream, then refrigerate until chilled.
Once the pastry cream is chilled, beat 1 cup heavy cream until soft peaks form. Whisk the pastry cream quickly to loosen, then fold in the whipped cream. Gently stir in the banana slices.
For the wafer crumble, preheat the oven to 350°F.
In a large bowl, combine the ground cookies, flour, sugar and salt.
Using a box grater, grate the cold butter into the dry mixture. Toss with clean hands until all of the pieces are coated. Add the vanilla, then crumble the butter pieces into the flour until the mixture comes together and large clumps form.
Spread the mixture on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Bake until the crumble edges are lightly browned and the tops are golden, 15 to 18 minutes. Remove the pan from the oven and let cool on baking rack.
To serve, once the crumble cools, sprinkle over the pudding.