Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Banana Pudding

Hurrah for Ener-G egg replacer! I've had luck in the past getting this nifty powder to mimic all sorts of things eggs can do - thicken breads and cakes, make souffles rise, and add light airiness to waffle batter. Tonight, I asked a lot of it - a meringue topping for this pudding. Ener-G's website indicated that it would be possible, but you never know these things until you try them at home. My success tonight makes me want to bake meringue cookies in the future! But I'll save that for another day...

For tonight, there are several layers to this pudding - cookies, custard, bananas - and almost all of them besides the bananas required creative vegan thinking. The first problem was the vanilla wafer cookies. All of the brands out there - from the generic Nilla wafers to Whole Foods' organic version - contain eggs, butter, etc. The closest I could find were actually organic Letter of the Day cookies in 'very vanilla' flavor, from Earth's Best Organic - although meant for kids, once they are layered in this pudding, no one will be able to see that they have the alphabet on them!

So buy a box and set that aside.

To make the custard, start by spooning 1/3 cup all-purpose flour into a measuring cup, and level with a knife. Combine the flour in a saucepan with 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons raw sugar, and 1/4 tsp. salt, stirring with a whisk. Gradually pour in 2 cups plain soy milk (such as Silk), stirring constantly. Cut a 2-inch vanilla bean in half, and scrape the seeds into the soy milk mixture, before adding the bean as well.

Cook over medium heat for 12 minutes, stirring constantly - just toward the end the mixture will thicken and grow bubbly. Remove from heat.

In a separate bowl, make the equivalent of 1 egg using egg replacer (such as Ener-G). Pour the soy milk mixture over the 'egg', stirring constantly with a whisk. Transfer the entire mixture back to the saucepan and continue to cook over medium heat for 2 minutes, still stirring constantly, until thick. Remove from heat and set aside.

(Note: I actually made an egg yolk, not the whole egg, i.e. only 1 tablespoon water instead of 2 tablespoons water, added to Ener-G powder. Luckily I can only imagine this made my custard even thicker, so I don't think it mattered too much).

Now it's time to make the meringue! In a large bowl, make the equivalent of 4 egg whites using Ener-G (and for this, I do not recommend other egg substitutes; you'll want 2 tablespoons of the powder whisked into 1/2 cup warm water). Now beat with a mixer for 12 minutes- yes 12! At about the half-way mark, start adding 6 tablespoons raw sugar, 1 tablespoon at a time, beating after each addition. By the end, you will have a thick, white mixture that looks like the "stiff peaks" of real egg white meringue.

And now to layer the pudding! You'll want 60 of the vegan vanilla cookies and 2 and 1/2 cups sliced banana (about 3 firm bananas) total, so have those ready to go. The original recipe actually called for only 40 vanilla wafers, but since these Letter of the Day cookies are a bit smaller, I upped the number to fit the dish/weight in grams.

Arrange 30 vegan vanilla cookies along the bottom of an 8-inch square baking dish. Top that with half the banana slices. Top that with half of the custard. Repeat the layers - 30 more cookies, the second half of the banana slices, and the second half of the custard.

Spoon your meringue over the top, spreading to the edges. Bake at 325 degrees for 20 minutes.

And voila! Not only did the meringue hold up in the oven, but it also set, by which I mean, it firmed up. Truly this has revolutionary potential for me to make meringue cookies. But for now, I will stop exalting and enjoy my pudding. Divide into 8 equal servings of about 3/4 cup and 290 calories each. You can enjoy this recipe warm or chilled. It also doubles easily, if you want to impress an even larger crowd with your new vegan meringue skills!

vanilla cookies $3.29
banana $1.18

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The Vegan Pantry

  • Vegan yogurt - Whole Soy
  • Vegan milk - Silk
  • Vegan Feta - Sunergia
  • Vegan Cheese - Galaxy Foods
  • Vegan Eggs - Ener-G
  • Vegan Butter - Earth Balance