Sunday, January 24, 2010

Sugar Sweet Sunshine's Banana Pudding

Now I have said before that I am not a big dessert person. So as not to beat a dead horse, we'll just leave it at that. There are, however, a few desserts and desserty-type things that I find myself with constant cravings for. Chief among such crave-ables is ice cream, which I think is more of a craving for an incomparable texture/mouth feel/eating experience than for the sweetness that comes with those inimitable features. And I have obviously shared my salty-sweet-tooth with you before. But outside of these, there isn't much that I really crave. There are, however, a couple of dessert dark-horses that I just really can't resist - if offered them, it's quite hard for me to turn them down. One such thing is banana pudding. I don't know where this affinity comes from - it's not like there's any sort of nostalgic connection between me and banana pudding. It's just so innately, deeply comforting - the sort of flavors that are familiar regardless of whether you've ever had them before. Banana, whipped cream and vanilla cake, cookies, whathaveyou - these things just belong together.

Yet despite this affinity for banana pudding, it's not something I find myself eating frequently. Unlike ice cream, it's not something you can just keep around and eat when you feel lie it, and there aren't multiple places (or just one little place in particular) selling it on my way home. And while I really do enjoy it, I rarely find myself actually craving it - while I really love the creamy texture and the sweet, creamy bite of banana hunks throughout, when I'm sitting on my couch crying about the Jets - it's ice cream, and not banana pudding, towards which I will look to drown my sorrows. But all this was before I had tried Sugar Sweet Sunshine's banana pudding. This is truly amazing stuff - and might catapult my relationship with banana pudding from being a passive enjoyment, wherein, should banana pudding cross my path, I will likely indulge, to an active love affair - leading me to find reasons to traipse on down to the lower east side and perhaps swing by SSS and pick up some banana pudding.

I can't really describe this banana pudding in any better way than to say it is eminently craveable. It's smooth, and sweet, borderline overwhelmingly so, though the sweetness is imparted by ripe (but not overripe) bananas, and not by an artificial banana flavor (though, it kills me to admit, I really do love that artificial banana flavor - while the lime and orange runts were mere ammo in games of "throw the runts into the bug zapper," banana runts actually provided a good deal of sustenance at sleepaway camp). The fact that it is borderline too-sweet is, I believe, a blessing in disguise, as I can have a few bites and put the rest away for later, allowing me to savor the deliciousness that much longer. The classic nilla wafers benefit from their pudding partners, somehow taking on all of the attributes of rich, buttery pound cake by virtue of their association with the other ingredients. The final product is a study in textural contrasts, the moist nilla wafers have a great crumb, moistened pleasantly by the pudding and is accompanied by the creamy bite of fresh bananas, all crowned with a light-as-air, barely sweetened (if at all) whipped cream, that ties it all together with an almost unbearable lightness. It's, in a word, delicious. A sweet, creamy, delicious, chunky mess of a dessert. I suggest you give it a try.

Sugar Sweet Sunshine

126 Rivington St. (between Essex and Norfolk)
New York, NY 10002
(212) 995-1960

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