Going to school in New York City, and living there a year after college, I fell in love with all the amazing eateries and bakeries the city had to offer. There was of course one particular bakery that I frequented often and it was all because of their famous Banana Pudding. Yes, I’m talking about Magnolia Bakery. Everyone raves about their cupcakes, but I always went straight for that creamy Banana Pudding. I think there may have been a few times where I justified to myself that one order of Banana Pudding was a well balanced meal. I mean I had to make some frugal choices while living in an expensive city and giving up Banana Pudding for an actual meal was not always an option I preferred.
Fast forward three years later, I no longer live in The Big Apple, but I still crave and long for Banana Pudding from Magnolia Bakery. Luckily I had purchased the Magnolia Bakery Cookbook a few years back and there inside was the recipe for the ever so delicious Banana Pudding. Since leaving NYC I have made this delicious treat many times, but then I learned the ugly truth about some of the ingredients. Those truths were a major turnoff in my love affair with Magnolia Bakery’s Banana Pudding.
One of the main ingredients in Banana Pudding, besides banana, are Nilla Wafers. The cookbook specifically says to use the Nabisco Nilla Wafers – no substitutes. Take a look at the ingredient list I found on www.nutritionix.com. From Soybean Oil, High Fructose Corn Syrup, Partially Hydrogenated Cottonseed Oil, Emulsifiers, to Artificial Flavors.
Now I know why these are called “Nilla Wafers” instead of Vanilla Wafers – there is not a drop of vanilla in these cookies. I know a lot of people don’t pay attention to the ingredients on food labels, but seriously what sounds good about those Nilla Wafers now?
I was on a mission at this point. I still wanted to enjoy the essence of this delicious dessert, but without all the questionable ingredients. Then there was this brief moment, standing in a Books-A-Million with this boy I know reading cookbooks, when a lightbulb came into my head and I thought Banana Chia Seed Pudding! That was the answer to my constant cravings for the delectable Banana Pudding that I missed so much, but knew was bad for me. So, that is where this lovely creation came from. It’s nothing like the original Magnolia Bakery’s Banana Pudding, but in my opinion it might just be better in its own special way.
This recipe has a few different parts. First, there is the recipe for Vanilla Wafers. Second, is the recipe for Vanilla Chia Seed Pudding. Followed by the third part, involving the assembling of this layered pudding.
The Vanilla Wafers
- 1/2 cup of coconut oil *
- 1/2 cup of honey
- 1 egg
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 1 cup whole wheat flour or white whole wheat flour
- 1/2 tsp baking powder
- 1/4 tsp sea salt
*Instead of coconut oil feel free to substitute with unsalted butter.
Preheat oven to 325 F and cover a baking sheet with parchment paper.
In a medium bowl cream together the coconut oil and honey until smooth. Add vanilla and egg, mixing until well combined.
In a separate bowl, add flour, salt, and baking powder and mix until incorporated. Add flour mixture to wet ingredients and mix until smooth.
Place mixture in a piping bag or Ziploc bag and pipe dough onto parchment lined baking sheet in quarter sized dollops about a 1/2 inch apart.
Bake for 8 minutes at 325 F. Turn off oven and let sit in the oven for another 5-10 minutes until wafers begin to brown on the edges. Check on these frequently during this time because they can burn easily if they’re left in too long. Remove from oven and let cool on baking sheet. Once cooled, transfer cookies to an airtight container and repeat baking process with remaining dough.
These finished vanilla wafers are super delicious all by themselves, but we are not done yet. One more prep step in making the Banana Chia Seed Pudding.
Vanilla Chia Seed Pudding
- 3/4 cup chia seed
- 4 cups almond milk or soy milk
- 2 tsp vanilla extract
- 2 tbsp maple syrup
In a medium size bowl, whisk together milk, vanilla, and maple syrup.
(at this point, I kind of just wanted to pour this mixture into a glass and drink it – yum!)
Next add chia seeds to the milk mixture and whisk it all together.
About a minute later whisk again. Wait 5 minutes and whisk…then again 5 minutes later. Now let the mixture sit for an hour before transferring to your storage container.
After an hour, transfer your chia seed pudding to your storage container and place in the refrigerator overnight (or for at least an hour).
Now we are in the homestretch, the final step is next. Assembly time!
The Final Product – Banana Chia Seed Pudding
- vanilla wafers
- vanilla chia seed pudding
- 2-3 large bananas sliced
After your chia seed pudding has had time to set up in the fridge you want to get out a large size bowl or Glad container. Start with putting a layer of your homemade vanilla wafers on the bottom of your bowl. Next a layer of sliced banana followed by a nice thick layer of your homemade vanilla chia seed pudding. Repeat this two more times and finish off the top layer by crumbling some of the vanilla wafers. At this point I like to let this set up again in the fridge for a few hours, but it’s not necessary. There you have a delicious healthy version of one of my favorite desserts. I hope you enjoy!
On a side note, if you want to make this dessert slightly more decadent, make some homemade whipped cream and add it in between your layers of banana slices and chia seed pudding. I was debating doing this, but ultimately I wanted to keep this recipe low in sugar and decided to go without the whipped cream. Here is a simple whipped cream recipe: http://allrecipes.com/recipe/whipped-cream/