Classic Banana Pudding- gluten-free & vegan

On the first rainy day here in Los Angeles in months it only felt right to spend Sunday afternoon baking in the kitchen.  Truth be told, I’ve still got my eating pants on from Thanksgiving, and a million reasons to hit the gym hard, but as a guest at two feasts this year and host of none, my fridge is sadly, leftover-free.

I’m vegan-curious, and (mostly) gluten-free, but at a recent lunch with my tribe, I had a dessert that I can’t stop thinking about: Banana Pudding.  A southern classic from K’s nana.  It got me thinking about creating a gluten-free and vegan version.  As we officially enter the season of desserts, wouldn’t a less guilty and allergy-friendly option be great?  Here’s the recipe from my rainy day research, which if I do say so myself, is pretty darn delectable.

Classic Banana Pudding

Step one: whip up some gluten-free vanilla wafers, inspired by GFJules’ recipe:

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  • ½ cup butter or non-dairy alternative (I used Organic Earth Balance margarine)
  • 1 cup granulated cane sugar
  • 1/8 tsp. sea salt
  • 1 large egg white (can sub 1/4 cup vegetable oil for vegans)
  • 1 Tbs. pure vanilla extract
  • 1 Tbs. milk (dairy or non-dairy)
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 1/3 cup + 1 Tbs. gluten free flour (I used the Trader Joes’ mix)

Beat together the butter, sugar and salt for 4-5 minutes, until light and fluffy. Add egg white, vanilla and milk. Mix, then slowly add the flour and baking powder, mixing until totally combined.

Refrigerate for two hours or until cold.  Being impatient, I just stuck the dough in the freezer for about 15 minutes, which worked just as well.

Preheat oven to 350°F (static) or 325°F (convection).

Scoop dough into a piping bag with a large icing tip or a plastic bag with a one-inch corner cut out.

Evenly squeeze dough out onto a parchment-lined baking sheet, forming rounds approximately ¾-inch wide, spaced 1 inch apart.

Bake for approximately 13 – 14 minutes, or until edges are lightly browned.  Yield: 4-5 dozen cookies.  Doesn’t matter if they are super pretty here, because they will be covered by the pudding.

While cookies are baking, start the pudding.  I adapted this recipe from Namely Marly, which also doubles for a decadent vegan banana cream pie filling.

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Ingredients for Pudding:

  • ½ cup sugar
  • ⅓ cup cornstarch
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 1½ cups light coconut milk
  • 1 cup plant milk (soy, almond, coconut, etc), vanilla flavored (I used plain rice milk)
  • 1 tbs. maple syrup
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 12 oz container of firm silken tofu, drained
  • 2 tablespoons Earth Balance, dairy free margarine
  • 1 tablespoon nutritional yeast flakes
  • 3-5 bananas, peeled and sliced
  1. Mix sugar, cornstarch, and salt in the bottom of medium-sized saucepan. Add the milks and stir until combined.
  2. Place the saucepan over medium heat and bring to a boil, stirring occasionally. Cook until the mixture thickens. Do no worry about lumps.
  3. Place the silken tofu, 2 tablespoons Earth Balance margarine, maple syrup, vanilla and nutritional yeast flakes in a food processor. Pulse for several seconds until the mixture becomes very smooth. It may be necessary to remove the lid and push some of the contents down to the bottom and then pulse again. Add the pudding mixture to the food processor and pulse again until all the ingredients are combined and any lumps that may have formed while cooking are gone. Set this aside and allow it to cool a little.

Layer the gluten-free vanilla cookies at the bottom of a glass pan.  Top with a layer of sliced banana, then with pudding.  Repeat.  Top with sliced bananas and you are done!  A fabulous and easy dessert to bring to holiday parties, for your vegan and gluten-free friends and family.

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