Primates have shown us that humans simply don't know how to eat bananas properly. The stem is for gripping the banana—not peeling it!
Hold the stem, pinch the top and then peel. Another little secret—bananas naturally split into three perfect wedges. No need for a knife.
One of the benefits of living in Costa Rica is the amazing (and cheap) access we have to bananas. We can get 20 pounds of bananas for $3-$4. Yep. And they aren’t the Cavendish bananas that are most commonly sold in The States. The bananas we get are small and extremely sweet and creamy. By comparison, the Cavendish bananas are bland. In fact most Costa Ricans don’t buy the Cavendish bananas when given the option.
Of course, one of the down falls to being able to buy so many bananas so cheaply is that often we can’t eat them all before they start to get mushy. And since there is only so much banana bread one needs in one’s life, I’ve started making banana pudding every few weeks. And this last time, I made chocolate banana pudding. Oh my heavens. Decadence to the roof.
Chocolate Banana Pudding
— 3 cups whole milk
— ½ cup sugar
— ¼ cup cornstarch or flour
— 6 oz semisweet chocolate or similar, shaved (I used 6 oz of Dove Silky Smooth Dark Chocolate—yum!)
— 1 tsp vanilla extract
— 1 Tbsp butter
— 8 oz heavy whipping cream
— 2 Tbsp sugar
— 6 bananas
— 1 box of vanilla wafers or cookie of choice (I used graham crackers. Oreos would be amazing, I’m sure)
In a small saucepan over medium heat, heat the milk and sugar until the sugar dissolves. Whisk in your thickening agent (cornstarch or flour) and stir constantly until well blended. Add in your shaved chocolate and continue to stir constantly until the chocolate is melted and the pudding begins to thicken—about 4 or 5 minutes.
Remove the saucepan from the heat and stir in the vanilla and the butter. Set aside to cool, about an hour.
Whip the heavy whipping cream with the 2 Tbsp of sugar until soft peaks begin to form, another 4 or 5 minutes.
Slice your bananas and open the box of cookies (it’s okay, you can eat one).
Layer the bottom of a large bowl or glass dish with cookies. Add about 1/3 of the cooled chocolate pudding. Layer ½ of the whipped cream on top of pudding and sprinkle with two sliced bananas (or more, if you’re so inclined and have a lot of bananas). Top the bananas with another layer of cookies and repeat the entire layering process, ending with a top layer of chocolate pudding, sprinkled with bananas.
Darla Antoine is an enrolled member of the Okanagan Indian Band in British Columbia and grew up in Eastern Washington State. For three years, she worked as a newspaper reporter in the Midwest, reporting on issues relevant to the Native and Hispanic communities, and most recently served as a producer for Native America Calling. In 2011, she moved to Costa Rica, where she currently lives with her husband and their infant son. She lives on an organic and sustainable farm in the “cloud forest”—the highlands of Costa Rica, 9,000 feet above sea level. Due to the high elevation, the conditions for farming and gardening are similar to that of the Pacific Northwest—cold and rainy for most of the year with a short growing season. Antoine has an herb garden, green house, a bee hive, cows, a goat, and two trout ponds stocked with hundreds of rainbow trout.