Banana pudding! Until this week, I hadn’t made any form of banana pudding in the many years since switching to a plant-based diet. It is super difficult to recreate a vegan version of this classic pudding… or so I thought. The reality is, you can throw together this simple dessert with just a few real ingredients and it’s every bit as creamy and banana-y as the original.
The bigger challenge is that banana pudding needs… wafers! And those processed vanilla-flavored cookies just don’t cut it. Instead, I decided to make my own healthier version. What I came up with is a spin on my classic date/nut crust that I’ve used in quite a few raw pie recipes. I discovered that by baking this crust into little rounds, they become like crispy cookies that add a great textural element to this dish.
In addition, I decided to add cocoa powder to make this a chocolate banana pudding. These flavors work really well, but it also helps with the color; Since we are using real bananas instead of fake food coloring and fake banana flavor, the pudding tends to darken slightly. Adding cocoa powder solves this problem and adds an awesome complementary flavor as well. In all, it’s a super tasty pudding that takes about 10 minutes from start to finish.
Makes about 4 servings
- 4 ripe bananas
- 12 oz full-fat coconut milk
- 2 tablespoons coconut butter
- 1 teaspoons vanilla
- 1-2 tablespoons maple syrup
- 2-3 tablespoons cocoa powder
- 1 1/2 cups raw nuts (2-3 varieties)
- 6-8 medjool dates
- Pinch of salt
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
Preheat the oven to a low 275º F
First, make the wafers by combining all ingredients from the second list (nuts, dates, salt, vanilla) in a food processor and process until completely broken down into a sticky mixture that will hold together when pinched between your fingers. Any kind of raw nuts will work here, I used a combo of almonds, walnuts, and hazelnuts.
Then, roll a small amount of the mixture into a ball and press evenly onto a parchment-lined baking sheet until it forms a flat “wafer” of sorts. Pop these in the oven for about 8-10 minutes to gently cook them. Watch these carefully though, as they do have a tendency to burn.
Alternatively, you can skip the baking and use these wafers raw, which is what I did in the photos here. They are softer and chewier, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing…
This pudding is even easier to make than the wafers. Simply add all ingredients from the first list (bananas, coconut milk, coconut butter, vanilla, maple syrup, and cocoa powder into a food processor and blend until completely smooth.
NOTE #1 – Many brands of coconut milk (i.e. Thai Kitchen) will naturally separate into the solid coconut fat on top and liquid coconut water on bottom. If this is the case, use all the solids in this pudding and just a splash of the liquid to reach the 12 oz. This will result in an even thicker pudding.
NOTE #2 – coconut butter is just the pureed flesh of a coconut, sold in jars like peanut butter. If you don’t have this, you can use coconut oil and cut the amount to 1.5 tablespoons.
Finally, refrigerate for at least an hour so that the coconut can harden and thicken the pudding a bit. To serve, layer fresh banana slices in a glass with the pudding and wafers.
I topped mine with cacao nibs and dollop of coconut whipped cream (see recipe here), which I made by reserving a little of the coconut solids from step two and whipping them with a whisk.