The more I flip through Shaina Olmanson debut cookbook, Desserts In Jars: 50 Sweet Treats That Shine (The Harvard Common Press – June 2012), the more I’m convinced she wrote and photographed this book with people like me in mind. 

I am a person who regularly entertains people in my home and meets friends for picnics at the park and beach, and am always thinking about practical and elevated ways to prepare and serve dessert.  Olmanson has answers for this dilemma.  Recipients will feel fussed over and special when eating one of her single portion desserts.  Who wouldn’t with recipes such as: Cardamom Pear Crisps; Lemon-Blueberry Bread Puddings; “Fried” Ice Cream; and Rustic Rhubarb Custard Pies?

For anyone, especially parents, looking for an alternative dessert to the customary birthday cupcake, Olmanson provides an entire cookbook of great recipes to inspire you.

Desserts In Jars will make even the most hesitant home baker look as accomplished as the beloved neighborhood bakery down the street.  And for me, this reason alone makes this book a welcomed addition to my home collection.

I also invite you to watch the Dessert In Jars book trailer and to explore Shaina’s wonderful food blog, Food For My Family, for more excellent family friendly recipes.

Here on Kitchen Explorers I am happy to present to you the Banana Buttermilk Trifles recipe from the book.  We are also giving away a copy to one reader provided by The Harvard Common Press.  Details of the giveaway are at the bottom of this post.

Giveaway details: Kitchen Explorers is giving away a copy of Dessert In Jars to one KE reader.  All you need to do is leave a comment sharing with us your favorite summer dessert to serve your family and friends.  One winner will be randomly chosen and contacted by email.  One entry per person and all entrants must be US Residents.  Contest closes July 11, 2012 at 11:59 PM PST.

Recipe: Banana Buttermilk Trifles

  • Servings: 10 individual trifles
  • Headnote from Dessert In Jars-Bananas are capable of an amazing feat, turning in what appears to be the blink of an eye from green-hued and firm to spotted so thickly with brown that the yellow is barely visible. No complaints, though, for it’s those brown-speckled numbers that make the best dessert.

    Recipe reprinted by permission by The Harvard Common Press from Dessert In Jars (June 2012).


    • For the cake

    • 1 cup granulated sugar
    • 8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
    • ¼ cup buttermilk
    • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
    • 1 large egg
    • 3 overripe bananas
    • 2 cups all-purpose flour
    • 2 teaspoons baking powder
    • ½ teaspoon salt
    • For the pudding

    • 1⁄3 cup granulated sugar
    • 3 tablespoons cornstarch
    • 1⁄8 teaspoon salt
    • Vanilla bean seeds scraped from 1 vanilla bean pod
    • 3 large egg yolks
    • 2 cups whole milk
    • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature, cut into pieces
    • 6 ripe bananas
    • 1 cup heavy cream
    • 2 tablespoons confectioners’ sugar


    1. Make the cake: Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line a 9 × 13-inch baking pan with parchment paper. Cream together the sugar and butter for 2 minutes. Add the buttermilk, vanilla, and egg and mix on low speed until blended. Mash the bananas slightly, add them to the bowl, and mix well on low speed.
    2. In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt. Mix the dry ingredients into the wet ones just until incorporated. Spread the cake batter onto the baking pan in an even layer.
    3. Bake the cake for 25 to 30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Remove from the oven and allow to cool completely.
    4. Make the pudding: Whisk together the granulated sugar, cornstarch, salt, and vanilla bean seeds in a medium saucepan. Whisk in the egg yolks until well combined. Slowly pour in the milk, whisking to incorporate it. Cook the mixture over medium-low heat until it thickens, about 10 to 15 minutes. Remove from the heat and whisk in the butter one piece at a time, making sure each piece is incorporated before adding the next. Cover the top of the pudding with plastic wrap and refrigerate until cool, 1½ to 2 hours.
    5. Using the top of an 8-ounce jar as a guide, cut 10 circles from the cake. Fit the circles into the bottoms of ten 8-ounce jars. Slice the ripe bananas ¼ inch thick and line the sides of the jars with the banana slices pressed up against the glass, two slices deep. Pour the pudding into the jars to cover the bananas.
    6. In a medium bowl, beat together the heavy cream and the confectioners’ sugar until stiff peaks form. Spoon the whipped cream over the pudding. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

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    20 Responses to “Banana Buttermilk Trifles”

    1. Kat

      My favorite summer dessert to share is ice cream pie – just put softened ice cream in an Oreo crust and freeze!


      My recent favorite is a bucket of sand! A pudding mixture covered with a crushed cookie mixture that looks exactly like sand. Served in a bucket using a shovel as a spoon! So fun!

    3. Renee

      I love to serve homemade ice cream, usually by itself, but sometimes in a root beer float or on top of a fruit crisp/cobbler.

    4. Brittany

      I love ice cream, but I’d probably serve a peach dessert made with our homegrown peaches for company.

    5. Stacy

      Homemade ice cream served with grilled fruit.

    6. vjm

      Homemade vanilla ice cream with crushed M&Ms!

    7. Sandra

      Lemon bars, I love the tart sweet combination!

    8. Kate

      I’d make a blackberry pie with homemade vanilla bean ice cream!

    9. Sandy

      I love to bring strawberry lemon curd trifle to group gatherings!

    10. Krista

      Strawberry shortcake – hands down! Berries picked from the field, fluffy angel food cake, homemade whipped cream, and vanilla frozen yogurt…bliss.

    11. Julie

      Strawberry Lemon Trifle is my favorite summer dessert.

    12. Danielle

      I have two favourite summer treats I love to share with my family:
      One is grilled pineapple with lemon sorbet, drizzled with honey and coconut.
      And rich chocolate cupcakes with homemade whipped cream frosting, topped with fresh berries.
      Light, cool and delicious!

    13. Amy Esch

      I love to make smoothies with my kids. Load in lots of fruit and either drink from a cup or use a spoon. Tastes like ice cream but so much better for you. 🙂

    14. Christina

      fresh berries in sauce made of sour cream with a little vanilla and brown sugar, topped with granola. cool and refreshing.

    15. Leora

      One of my favorite summer desserts I like making and sharing with my family is my sour cream pound cake topped with my zesty tropical fruit salad.