Mary’s Famous Vegan Banana Pudding

Mary's Famous Vegan Banana Pudding

As I scramble through my last month living in San Diego, I was lucky enough to take part in one last Healthy Dining Office Potluck. When you work with a team of Culinary Dietitians and other foodie health professionals, potluck celebrations are serious business. Looking back on the 2.5 years that I’ve worked with this team, I’m pleasantly surprised that I had a chance to document several of my contributions online here: there have been polenta-crusted quiches, gluten-free peach cobbler scones, worksgiving goat cheese mashed potatoes, and platters of avocado toast slathered with chimichurri sauce. But to date, my crowning achievement was at a banana-themed bash we held last October, so this week I had go out with a bang and recreate my biggest hit.

I took inspiration from a roasted banana pudding recipe I remember seeing in an old issue of Cooking Light, but I ended up making mine quite a bit differently. Several of my coworkers don’t do dairy, and I like to bring an equal-opportunity dessert to the table. So while I don’t follow a vegan diet myself, I worked around the genius oven-caramelized bananas and overhauled the rest of the recipe into a completely plant-based creation.

The pudding uses an almond milk base, thickened with cornstarch, and enhanced with the sticky-sweet roasted bananas (along with a splash of rum, if you dare). It’s layered with classic vanilla wafers, extra roasted banana slices, and probably the most important secret of the recipe: a little extra sprinkle of salt between the layers, a key counter-balance to the sweetness. The final touch is the best creamy/dreamy tropical topping: whipped coconut cream.

Back to Nature makes vanilla wafers without dairy or egg, but if you’re not concerned about keeping things Strictly Vegan, I recommend Trader Joe’s Ultimate Vanilla Wafers – they are the BEST.

Just remember: vegan doesn’t mean healthy (and for that matter, healthy doesn’t mean anything…). This dessert does offer some real-food nutrition, but it’s also a sweet indulgence, a reminder to take joy in eating, the simplest earthly pleasure.

Make it with love, savor it, and share it with your favorite people. Office mates, I’m glad I had one more chance to feed you pudding before I hit the road for Seattle. Until next time, for you and all my other favorite people that I don’t live close enough to cook for, I’ll leave you with the recipe.

Mary's Famous Vegan Banana Pudding

Mary’s Famous Vegan Banana Pudding

Mary’s Famous Vegan Banana Pudding

Nutrition information (average values, products can vary) for one batch of banana pudding divided into 16 small servings: 170 calories, 7 g fat, 4.5 g saturated fat, 0 g trans fat, 0 mg cholesterol, 115 mg sodium, 23 g carbohydrates, 13 g total sugar (includes 4 g added sugar), 1 g protein.

5 ripe bananas
1/4 cup cornstarch
1/4 cup raw sugar
1/8 teaspoon salt
3 cups unsweetened almond milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
optional: 1 tablespoon rum
1 15-oz. can coconut cream, chilled
1 tablespoon powdered sugar
vanilla wafers

Roast the bananas, unpeeled, on a parchment-lined baking sheet at 350 F. After 20 minutes, take out 3 of the bananas to cool at room temperature, and let the other two roast for another 20 minutes. Once cool, peel/slice the first 3 bananas, and peel/mash the other 2.

Meanwhile, make the pudding: combine the cornstarch, sugar and salt in a medium saucepan. Gradually whisk in the almond milk and cook over medium-low heat, stirring frequently, for about 15-20 minutes until the mixture boils and starts to thicken (it is ready when it can “coat the back of a spoon”). Mix in the mashed banana and vanilla (and rum, if desired), and let the pudding cool completely.

For the coconut cream: separate the thick coconut cream from the liquid in the can (discard the liquid or save for another use). Whip the coconut cream and powdered sugar with an electric mixer until fluffy. Some canned coconut creams are thicker than others, and your topping may be looser than traditional whipped cream. If it comes out especially thin, try adding 1-2 teaspoons cornstarch to thicken.

To assemble: Line the bottom of a 8" square baking dish with vanilla wafers; top with half of the banana slices, then a sprinkle of salt, then half of the pudding. Make the same layers again, then top with the coconut cream and an extra handful of crumbled vanilla wafers to garnish.

Mary's Famous Vegan Banana Pudding

4 thoughts on “Mary’s Famous Vegan Banana Pudding”

  1. I love your writing and your recipes! I’ll miss you! Have a fun & safe journey! Keep in touch — see you on the blog and on Skype.


    1. I am embarrassed to have left this question unanswered for so long, I apologize – I analyzed and added nutrient information to the recipe today.

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