coconut milk banana pudding

Coconut Milk Banana Pudding

banana pudding

Food blogging has it’s fair share of ups and downs. And I think one of the more frustrating downs is when a recipe is obscenely delicious and the photos don’t do it justice. Until we get the ability to hand out free samples to every visitor who shows up on a recipe page, the photos (and the write up, but let’s be real here, mostly the photos) are what sell a recipe. Of course, a photo has absolutely nothing to do with how the end product actually tastes, but without a good photo, it’s hard to get people to try something. Heck, even I—someone who is intimately familiar with the behind-the-scenes of recipe development and knows good and well a good photo does not mean a good recipe—am more willing to make a recipe that looks pretty on someone else’s blog or cookbook. We eat with our eyes and all that.

So that’s why it makes me mega sad that banana pudding is pretty much the most disgusting looking thing to ever be before a food blogger’s camera lens. My god, it is so delicious, but it looks so gross.

banana pudding

What looks like a goupy, disgusting gray mess of congealed guck is actually a creamy, sweet, flavorful dessert that is the centerpiece of pretty much every dessert table at every summer cookout in our region. I know that banana pudding has its roots in Southern cooking, so if you aren’t close to the South and have never had a chance to have a bowl of real banana pudding, you have to promise me you’ll make this. I’m not talking the stuff made with instant pudding mix that comes in a box. I’m talking eggs, sugar, and bananas simmering together until thick and creamy. Usually, the base of puddin’ is made with milk (or, gasp, heavy cream) but I swapped the dairy out for lighter, creamier coconut milk. Bonus: it gives the pudding a really light coconutty flavor that works in tandem with the bananas to give this dessert a touch of tropical island paradise.

banana pudding

Now, let’s get real here—this isn’t a clean or healthy dessert. Sure, it’s mostly “real” ingredients and has a crapload of fruit in it, but it’s still packed with sugar, calories and dun…dun…dun… artificially flavored vanilla wafers. In my book, vanilla wafers are banana pudding. I don’t want to meet banana pudding without ’em. They add flavor, texture and all-around awesomeness. But if the long ingredient list of these mega-processed cookies scare you away, you can easily leave them out. Just don’t tell me about it, k? I’d rather eat vanilla wafer-ed up banana pudding rarely than have wafer-free pudding…ever. We all must make our choices. And I choose wafers.

banana pudding

Unappetizing photos aside, I really hope you’ll make this recipe for your next potluck. Banana pudding is pretty much always a guaranteed hit among the masses, and I promise it looks much more appealing in person than in the camera.

Enjoy!

Coconut Milk Banana Pudding

by Cassie Johnston

Prep Time: 10 minutes | Cook Time: 30 minutes| Makes: 12 Servings

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup maple syrup (or granulated sugar)
  • 2 eggs
  • 1-14 ounce can light coconut milk
  • 5 bananas, sliced into thin discs, divided
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 3 tablespoons warm water
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Pinch of salt
  • 3 cups vanilla wafer cookies (like Nilla brand)
  • Whipped cream and shredded coconut for topping

Instructions

  1. In a large, heat-proof glass or steel mixing bowl, whisk together the syrup or sugar, eggs and coconut milk until well-combined. Add in about half the sliced bananas. Place the bowl over a saucepan with about 1″ of simmering water (to create a make-shift double boiler).
  2. Heat the coconut milk mixture in the double boiler until very hot, stirring frequently to prevent scorching. Meanwhile, in a small bowl, whisk together the cornstarch and water. Once the coconut milk mixture is hot, whisk in the cornstarch mixture and continue stirring mixture until pudding thickens to the consistency of thin yogurt. The added bananas will break down as it cooks.
  3. Remove from heat, stir in the vanilla extra and salt. Set aside to cool for a few minutes before assembling the pudding.
  4. To assemble, layer 1/3 of the vanilla wafers and 1/3 of the remaining banana slices on the bottom of a trifle dish or bowl. Top with half of the pudding. Then repeat the layers ending with the last of the wafers and banana slices. Refrigerate for 3-4 hours or until completely cooled through. Serve with sweetened whipped cream and shredded coconut for topping.

Nutritional Info

Serving Size: About 1/2 cup | Servings Per Recipe: About 12  

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Do you have any foods that maybe aren’t the cleanest that you refuse to give up?

16 Comments

  1. says

    Cassie, this looks awesome! You clearly have not seen some of the various other concoctions making the rounds of other stuff that looks like something my dog regurgitated after getting into a litter box. This looks delicious.

  2. Kat says

    I’ve always wanted to try banana pudding but have a dairy allergy. I can’t wait to try your coconut milk version.

    “Unclean” foods I refuse to give up: dark chocolate, black liquorice, sweet potato fries, and really salty corn chips dipped in guacamole.

  3. says

    Love banana pudding! And I know your pain about bad photographs. I usually take the photos I need away from home so it can be super disappointing when they don’t turn out right!

  4. Sarah says

    I made banana pudding last weekend for a dinner party! I grew up in the south, but I live in Canada now. It was great introducing friends to this piece of heaven. I had a hard time finding Nilla wafers, so I almost resorted to making my own (I found a recipe online). Thankfully, I did find them because while I’m sure homemade Nilla wafers are great, I think the scary manufactured ones are better (at least in terms of banana pudding).

  5. says

    Ha! Brown and white foods never are easy to photograph, that’s for sure! If it makes you feel any better, I LOVE that placemat! 😀

    Banana pudding is one of my favorite desserts, but for some reason, it’s always one I forget about! I haven’t made it in years! I used to go the lazy route and mix pudding mix and cool whip together (and in my “bad” days I’d even throw in a can of sweetened condensed milk…talk about rich!!), but I LOVE the idea of making homemade pudding from coconut milk! Coconut and banana is just one of those magical flavor combos!

    Hmm, unclean foods I refuse to give up? I don’t have them often, but I can never resist Fritos dipped in bean dip! Lol

  6. Dani says

    Banana pudding is a family tradition for me. The pictures in this post sold me on it immediately. The description of a congealed mess made me skip over the rest of the post to the recipe.

    Looks good though.

  7. Rebecca says

    Thank you for posting a dairy free version of this amazing dessert! My grandma, Mama, was from Mississippi and made this every time we would visit because she knew it was my favorite. As an adult I have stayed away from it b/c of the dairy factor but will be trying it this weekend and remembering her :)

  8. Sarah Spencer says

    Being raised in the south, I had no clue that it was a regional thing. There’s people out there that have never had banana pudding? How can that be?
    That being said, I don’t think these photos look the least bit off-putting. Looks delicious =)

  9. Olive Oil says

    excited to give this a shot.
    just to clarify what do you mean by “1-14 ounce coconut milk”
    do you mean 1 1/4 ounce or 1.14 or what

  10. danielle says

    is this the same coconut milk you can buy in a carton? or do i use can of creme of coconut? I have never seen a can of coconut milk, other than creme of coconut. will the carton coconut milk work just as good?

    • Cassie says

      It’s not the same as the carton milk (that’s usually a blend and it wont whip up). If you look in the international foods aisle (usually with Thai foods), you’ll find canned coconut milk. :)

  11. Haren says

    about the wafers, I’ve seen some bloggers use the ‘letter of the day vanilla cookies’ as a substitute for the wafers and according to them it tastes like wafers.

    http://www.earthsbest.com/products/product/2392320208 the only thing that is a LITTLE questionable is the ‘organic palm oil’ but i’d take that short list of ingredients over whats in those traditional wafers any day.

    So I will probably be swapping the processed ones out with those. Just wanted to post that here so others can know there are substitutes they can look for : ]

  12. says

    Ooh, so glad you did this recipe by the can, meaning making it so I’m able to use an entire can of coconut milk instead of by the cup when I’d have leftovers molding in the fridge (can you freeze canned coconut milk? Anyone know what happens to it?)

    I have celiac disease so will have to use some other cookie (it won’t be the same) but it’s better than no banana pudding!

    If you want to enhance your banana pudding photographs, try boosting the contrast a bit and adjusting the color into the warm range (warm colors are yellow and orange, for example). It looks like cool-colored lighting (blueish purplish) might be contributing to the grayness of your images. I’d offer to do this for you (would only take a sec) but my fancy computer with Photoshop was robbed from my house.

    Oh, found this on Reddit: people in this thread might help you out if you don’t want to do it: http://www.reddit.com/r/PhotoshopRequest/search?q=photoshop&sort=relevance&restrict_sr=on&t=all

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