I’m always on the lookout for simple, crowd-pleasing desserts that I can add to my repertoire – but often, it’s easier said than done. Admittedly, I’m a creature of habit and tend to revert to my old, faithful standbys; desserts I can make with the ingredients I have on hand. Because really, what’s worse than discovering you have 18% – or worse, 98% – of the ingredients you need to make a sweet concoction?
Of my many staple showstoppers, one does stand out: Banana Walnut Bread Pudding. As long as I have ripe bananas on hand – and truthfully, with two young boys, bananas are a fixture in our fruit bowl – I can always make this much-loved brunch food. My secret ingredient? Almond Breeze Vanilla.
Almond Breeze is made with high-quality California almonds. The almonds that go into every drop of this delicious non-dairy beverage come straight from growers within Blue Diamond’s cooperative that have been in the almond business for 100 years. In fact, many of the almond growers have worked with Almond Breeze for generations, so there’s a lot of family pride and love poured into each carton.
Me? I just love that it’s a convenient source of calcium, and has no saturated fat or cholesterol. And of course, it tastes great. As much as I love adding Almond Breeze to baked goods, I enjoy it straight from the carton, too!
Back to my Banana Walnut Bread Pudding. It can be served as brunch for those with a sweet tooth (and a carefree attitude towards carb consumption), or dessert for those who are of the “muffins are mini cakes” mindset. Regardless of when you enjoy it, this bread pudding is dense, sticky and downright delicious. The best news? You may already have all the ingredients on hand.
1 loaf French or Italian bread
1 1/2 cups Almond Breeze Vanilla
2 large or 3 small mashed ripe bananas
1/4 cup brown sugar
2 teaspoons cornstarch
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 cup pure maple syrup*
1/4 cup chopped walnuts
*You can also use your favourite pancake syrup. Seriously, I won’t judge. It comes out great both ways – the maple syrup adds a robust depth of flavour that enriches the overall dish, but in a pinch, I’ve used the cheap stuff too. Just make sure you don’t use butter-flavoured syrup.
Cut or tear the bread into bite-sized pieces. Day old or slightly stale bread works best, but you can also lightly toast fresh bread. Place it in a large bowl.
In a blender, add Almond Breeze Vanilla along with the mashed banana, brown sugar, cornstarch, baking powder and cinnamon; blend until smooth. Pour the mixture over the bread and stir well to completely coat. Let soak for a few minutes.
Preheat oven to 350F. Gently grease an 8×8-inch baking dish with butter. Pour the bread pudding mixture into the dish. Bake for 45 minutes or until the top is set. Remove from oven and allow to cool for 15 minutes.
When the bread pudding has cooled slightly, drizzle with maple syrup and sprinkle with chopped walnuts. Cut into squares and serve warm.
My bread pudding is on the darker side because I’m a cinnamon freak – I probably need to undergo a 12-step program to stop liberally dousing all my desserts with the brown stuff. I used closer to two teaspoons and don’t regret a thing (other than the darker aesthetic for blog photography). Regardless, if you’re not concerned with a brownish bread pudding and want to increase the cinnamon, I say solidarity, sister.
Do you have a go-to recipe that incorporates your pantry staples? Do tell! I’d love to add a few tried-and-true goodies to my stash.
If you do try my Banana Walnut Bread Pudding, just remember to refrigerate the leftovers promptly; it will stay delicious in the fridge for up to three days. Then again… what leftovers?
This post is sponsored by Almond Breeze. The opinions on this blog, as always, are my own.