There's nothing wrong with instant pudding or cool whip, but again, my brain said it couldn't be as good as homemade.
I'm not a homemade snob. I use convenience foods and mixes like everyone else. But I do love real, made-from-scratch banana pudding. I thought maybe these people who were commenting on how good this other stuff was just didn't know any better ("bless their hearts").
So I made it for myself. And I was wrong when I thought it couldn't be very good. This banana pudding is extremely good- even the lighter version that I came up with. The taste is rich and creamy, and the texture is light and almost mousse-like. The use of shortbread cookies instead of vanilla wafers gives it a little different twist and presentation that I like.
So is it better than homemade? Not better, just different. The two are distinct enough that they almost can't be compared. Both are very good, just in their own ways. One Pinterest commenter said, "This will be the only banana pudding I make from now on".....but I say, "Make both!"
Adapted (lightened up) from Paula Deen
1 (12 oz) container frozen whipped topping, thawed (I used Cool Whip lite)
1 (14 oz.) can sweetened condensed milk
1 (8 oz.) package cream cheese, softened (I used 1/3 less fat cream cheese)
2 cups milk (I used 2%)
1 (5 oz.) box French Vanilla instant pudding
6 to 8 ripe bananas, sliced
2 bags Pepperidge Farm Chessmen cookies
1. Line bottom of 13 X 9 inch pan with 1 bag of cookies and layer bananas on top.
2. In a bowl, combine the milk and pudding mix and blend well with a handheld electric mixer.
3. Using another bowl, combine the cream cheese and condensed milk together and mix until smooth.
4. Fold the whipped topping into the cream cheese mixture.
5. Add the cream cheese mixture to the pudding mixture and stir until well-blended. Pour the cream cheese pudding mixture over the cookies and bananas. Cover with the remaining cookies. Refrigerate until ready to serve.