When I first started out as a New York nanny, I worked for a family that lived in East Harlem. I took care of their baby girl, whom I affectionately called “Zu” (a nickname which bears no likeness to her actual name), from the time she was nine months old to when she was two and a half. And, oh, we had so much fun together. We read a million books, danced to Mary Poppins on vinyl, and I introduced her to the Peanuts (because Snoopy rules). We blew bubbles in the backyard, gave fist-bumps and high-fives, wore silly hats, and made cakes.
Well, I made the cakes. She did a lot of stirring ☺️ The point is that it was the best job I’d ever had up to that point. From the time I arrived everyday to the time I left, we were two peas in a pod.
But if you have children or have ever spent an extended period with anyone else’s children, you know that no matter how much fun you are having together, there comes a point where cabin fever sets in and you’d rather do anything than be in the house for two more minutes. When this happened, I’d put her in a baby carrier and we’d go find something to do. When it was nice, we’d go to the playground. When it was gross out, we’d go to Target and buy things I didn’t need. And sometimes, on very special occasions, we’d hop over to Evelyn’s Kitchen, a treasure of a bakery in East Harlem, for a treat to share.
We always ordered the same thing, one Banana Pudding Pudgie. It’s a soft, chewy, white chocolate-studded cookie that tastes just like its namesake dessert. We’d go home and I’d cut it in quarters so she could grab them easily with her little fingers, and we’d enjoy it together before finding a new record to dance to. Those are some of my favorite memories ever. Just a simple little treat with my sweet, tiny friend.
When the time came for me to move on to a new family, I had no reason to frequent East Harlem or make trips to Evelyn’s Kitchen. This was a time when I was just getting into baking, and so I decided that I would figure out how to make Banana Pudding Pudgies at home. And it only took me fourteen months to get it right 😁😁😁 But I did, and for the last two years, whenever I get a hankering for a treat from Evelyn’s Kitchen, I save the subway fare I’d spend getting to and from East Harlem and make a batch of Banana Pudding Cookies instead.
You guys, these cookies taste exactly like banana pudding. No, seriously. They literally taste exactly like the combination of vanilla pudding, bananas, vanilla wafers, and whipped cream that we grew up with. But they’re portable and much less messy 😊
There are a million pudding-based cookie recipes out there, but this one is different. It’s not made with instant pudding mix–I’ve found it makes these cookies dry and artificial-tasting. So, ditch the mix! Instead add the three main ingredients in instant mix (cornstarch, milk powder, and granulated sugar) individually, followed by a full tablespoon of vanilla extract to round everything out and give these cookies a classic pudding flavor. Combined with mashed ripe bananas and white chocolate chips, these cookies taste–and I can’t stress this enough–exactly like banana pudding.
My Banana Pudding Cookies are not as puffy as the cookies that inspired them, but they capture their flavor perfectly. Incredibly soft and chewy with strong banana and vanilla flavors, they’re the perfect cookies to make for cookouts or picnics, or anytime you are craving banana pudding. And if you have a sweet, tiny friend to share with, all the better.
Looking for more banana pudding? Check out my No-Churn Banana Pudding Ice Cream!
Banana Pudding Cookies
makes about 4 dozen cookies
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 cup cornstarch
1/4 cup non-fat dry milk powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon Kosher or sea salt
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
3/4 cup light brown sugar, packed
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 large egg, room temperature
1 1/2 medium ripe bananas, mashed (about 1/2 cup)
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
1 1/4 cups white chocolate chips
In a large mixing bowl, whisk together flour, cornstarch, milk powder, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.
In a separate large mixing bowl, use an electric mixer to beat butter until light and fluffy. Add light brown and granulated sugars and beat until combined. Mix in egg, followed by mashed banana and vanilla. Add dry ingredients in two installments, beating until combined. Mix in white chocolate chips.
Cover dough and chill in the refrigerator for at least two hours, or up to three days.
Preheat oven to 350F. Line two baking sheets with parchment.
Scoop dough by the tablespoon and roll into balls. Place dough balls at least two inches apart on prepared pans. Bake 8-10 minutes, until the edges are starting to turn golden and the tops are no longer raw looking. Let cookies cool on the pans for ten minutes before removing to a rack to cool completely. Cool baking sheets to room temperature before baking any remaining dough.
Cookies will keep in an airtight container at room temperature for up to a week.