I have a mission in life, of sorts. And although it’s not as noble as say, finding ways to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, it is nonetheless heroic to certain segments of the world’s population.
I’m on a mission to turn indulgent desserts into family-friendly breakfast and brunch items. (You’re welcome.) It’s been done before, of course. Cake morphed into muffins, fried dough was branded with a more breakfast-friendly moniker, “doughnuts”, and toaster strudels? Let’s not even go there.
However, I think I’ve hit a home run with my Chocolate Banana Bread Pudding. With the goodness of whole grain whole wheat bread, fresh, ripe bananas and a touch of pure cocoa powder, I feel good about serving this pseudo-dessert. And, with Family Day just around the corner, Healthy Grains Institute challenged me to create a fabulous addition to a brunch menu that features one of our favourite comfort foods… bread!
It’s no secret that food brings families together. Some of our fondest memories are from moments spent around the breakfast table; giggling while we pick marshmallows out of cereal, teasing the boys about their latest crush, or simply enjoying the sheer pleasure of breaking bread (preferably the warm, out-of-the-oven kind) with loved ones.
That’s why I’m looking forward to Family Day – it’s all about celebrating togetherness. With our incredibly busy lives and penchant for eating on the go, we don’t always have a chance to sit down and enjoy a comforting, feel-good meal. This weekend, bond over brunch!
This recipe yields 10-12 servings (serving size: about 3/4 cup). Prep time is about 10 minutes, but you’ll need to factor in about 15 minutes of resting, 1 hour of baking and 15 minutes of cooling.
5 large eggs
3 cups whole milk
1 cup light brown sugar
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon salt
2-3 medium ripe bananas, chopped
1 loaf (8 cups) day-old (or lightly toasted) whole grain whole wheat bread
powdered sugar, optional garnish
chocolate syrup, optional garnish
Chop whole grain whole wheat bread into 1-2 in cubes; set aside in a large bowl.
Whisk eggs in a separate large bowl. Whisk in milk, brown sugar, cocoa powder, vanilla and salt until combined. Add banana and stir until incorporated. Pour mixture over bread and stir until combined. Let stand for 15 minutes, tossing the bread with the liquid a few times to help it absorb the custard.
Preheat oven to 350°F. Coat a shallow 9×13″ baking dish with cooking spray.
Transfer the pudding mixture to the prepared pan. Coat a piece of foil with cooking spray and cover the pan with it, sprayed-side down. Bake for 30 minutes. Uncover and continue baking until puffed and firm to the touch, about 25 to 30 minutes more. Let cool for 15 minutes before serving.
Dust with powdered sugar and drizzle with chocolate sauce, if desired. (Hint: All the YES.)
For additional recipes and information on how to include grains as part of a healthy, balanced diet, visit www.healthygrains.ca.