The Inspiration Behind 2021’s First-Place Banana Pudding Recipe

Elaine Barbee is a retired program administrator for inner city gang kids in St. Charles, Missouri. She spent a lot of time in high security violent offender units during the 28 years of her career. Once her kids had done their time, she did what she could to prepare them to succeed in life. 

“I did art with the kids,” Elaine said. “I taught the kids in the facilities to cook so they would at least have something to go off of…the ones that were trustworthy and could go get a job at a place with a kitchen.” 

She learned to bake from her mother who grew up in a Southern area on a farm. According to Elaine, she was an amazing cook and made everything from scratch. So when things got stressful at work, Elaine would turn to baking. 

“Baking was a mindless activity that came natural to me,” she said. “And I could use my hands, use my creativity, and not have to think about the harder things in life that I had to deal with on a daily basis at work.” 

Elaine’s hobby turned into a fairly impressive side hustle in 2010 when she won the Scharffen Berger Chocolate Adventure Cupcake contest which was judged by many prominent bakers including Angie Dudley, the creator of cake pops. She submitted a Milk Stout Beer Chocolate Cupcake recipe and waited. 

“I got a call and I was in a suicide prevention policy meeting for work and the lady said ‘Elaine, you’ve just won the Scharffen Berger contest.’” 

The prize? Ten-thousand dollars and a trip to New York to share her winning cupcake on one of the city’s most popular food trucks. 

Elaine brought her dessert prowess to the National Banana Pudding Festival Cook-Off in 2019 where her recipe did not place in first, second, or third. But she came back in 2021 with a Skrewball Banana Pudding that blew our judges away. 

Some may call her achievement the power of second chances. But we would argue it’s the power of peanut butter hard sauce. 

“I’ve been making pastry creams and puddings for years so I just tweaked it to make a peanut butter hard sauce,” Elaine said. Adding peanut butter to the whiskey, egg, and butter hard sauce gave it a thicker texture. She also sprinkled a layer of homemade salted pecan cookie crumbles with a little bit of butterscotch into her pudding. 

Screw Ball Banana Pudding Ingredients 

Peanut Butter Hard Sauce

  • Butter
  • Sugar
  • Peanut butter whiskey
  • Eggs
  • Creamy peanut butter


  • Cornstarch
  • Sugar
  • Eggs
  • Salt
  • Cream
  • Half-and-half
  • Banana cream rum
  • Vanilla extract
  • Unsalted butter

Whipped cream

  • Heavy cream
  • Powdered sugar
  • Peanut butter
  • Whipped cream stabilizer 

Elaine plans to compete in the National Banana Pudding Festival Cook-Off again in October. Until then, she’s got a long list of competitions ahead of her this year. 

In April, she’ll be in South Pittsburg as a qualifier for the Lodge Cast Iron Cornbread Cook-Off. In November, she’ll return to the World Food Championships in Dallas, Texas where she placed fifth in the Desserts category in 2019. 

How to Support Elaine

Follow Elaine’s cooking competition journey at @simplyelicious on Instagram!