We like the way the pudding looks in individual parfait glasses, but the recipe can be doubled, assembled in a 10-cup glass bowl, and then garnished with whipped cream just before serving.
3 cups half-and-half
3/4 cup (5 1/4 ounces) sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
4 large egg yolks
3 tablespoons cornstarch
3 tablespoons unsalted butter , chilled, cut into 3 pieces
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
24 Nilla Wafers , plus 4 more for garnish
2 large ripe bananas , cut into 1/4-inch slices
1 cup whipped cream , whipped to soft peaks
How to make it
1. FOR THE PUDDING: Place the half-and-half, 1/2 cup sugar, and salt in a heavy-bottomed medium saucepan over medium heat and bring to a simmer, stirring to completely dissolve sugar.
2. Meanwhile, whisk the egg yolks in a medium bowl until thoroughly combined. Whisk in the remaining 1/4 cup sugar, and continue whisking until the sugar has begun to dissolve and the mixture is creamy, about 15 seconds. Whisk in the cornstarch until combined and the mixture is pale yellow and thick, about 30 seconds.
3. When the half-and-half mixture reaches a full simmer, gradually whisk 1/2 cups of the simmering half-and-half mixture into the yolk mixture to temper. Return the egg mixture to the saucepan, scraping the bowl with a rubber spatula. Return to a simmer over medium heat, stirring gently but constantly with a wooden spoon until 3 or 4 bubbles burst on the surface and the mixture is thickened and glossy, 2 to 3 minutes.
4. Pass the pudding through a fine-mesh strainer into a medium bowl, pressing with a rubber spatula. Whisk in the butter and vanilla. Set the pudding aside.
5. TO ASSEMBLE THE PUDDINGS: Place the Nilla Wafers in a sealed zipper-lock plastic bag and break them into pieces by tapping the cookies with a wooden spoon. Tap only a few times, so that mostly large pieces remain.
6. Gently stir the pudding and then spoon a generous 1/4 cup pudding into each of four 8-ounce parfait or wine glasses (the pudding will seem too thin—it sets up when refrigerated). Top with several banana slices and then sprinkle with a thin layer of wafer pieces. Repeat once more, ending with a final layer of pudding. Press a piece of plastic wrap dire ctly on the surface of each pudding and refrigerate until well chilled, at least 4 hours or overnight.
7. TO SERVE: Top each pudding with a dollop of whipped cream and garnish with a whole Nilla Wafer. Serve immediately.