This pudding is luscious, creamy and delicious -- both a tribute to how fabulous vegan treats can be and also to how well they can disguise as their non-vegan twins. You probably would not guess by the taste that this is not a regular, fabulous, milk/cream/eggs-based pudding. You probably also would not guess that it's made with... tofu. This is the first time I've tried vegan pudding. I was unsure if I would like it. I do! And here it is to inspire you!
I'm not vegan (as some of my other posts may have given away), but I do value vegan and vegetarianism. I believe that eating lower on the food chain is better for our bodies and for the environment. And so does Mark Bittman -- his books, Food Matters from 2009 and The Food Matters Cookbook from 2010 (as well as lots of his New York Times articles) address issues of -- and the intersections of -- sustainability, health and food.
I'm not here to proselytize about what you should or should not eat, but I am here to tell you that these Vegan Chocolate & Banana Pudding Parfaits were a big hit, even with a non-vegan crowd. I added coconut, cinnamon and ginger to make this a bit more tropical in flavor, but all of those could be omitted.
If you have a local source for tofu, go for that. If you've never had a local, fresh tofu, I recommend looking around to see if there is any available in your area. I enjoy picking up a block of freshly made tofu from local Hodo Soy Beanery at the farmers' market. They have delicious, super-fresh tofu, yuba (the tofu skin skimmed off the top during the tofu-making process), soy milk and spiced, braised tofu. I had no idea how good fresh tofu tastes before these folks. Any silken tofu will work in this recipe, though.
I'm going to try making my own tofu, but that will be another post for another time.
Chocolate & Banana Pudding Parfaits (Vegan!)
adapted from Mike Bittman's The Food Matters Cookbook
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup water
1 pound silken tofu
4 ounces bittersweet or semisweet chocolate (or a mix of both), melted
2 Tablespoons unsweetened coconut, ground finely in food processor or coffee grinder (optional)
1/2 teaspoon powdered ginger (optional)
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon (optional)
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 ripe bananas (put aside a few slices for garnish, if you want)
1. Make a sugar syrup by mixing the sugar and water together in a small pan, bring to a boil, stir occasionally as the sugar dissolves. Cook for a couple minutes, then remove from the heat. Cool for at least 10 minutes.
2. Pour half the sugar syrup, half the tofu and all of the the melted chocolate and vanilla into a blender or food processor. Puree until smooth. Put this in another container, cover and chill.
2. Rinse out your blender or food processor and make the banana pudding: Puree the rest of the sugar syrup, tofu, bananas, pinch of salt, ground coconut, ginger and cinnamon until smooth. Put this in another sealed container and chill.
3. Once the puddings are chilled (at least 45 minutes, preferably a few hours), stir each and layer spoonfuls into small ball jars (as in photo), champagne flutes, or other tall, narrow glasses, alternating chocolate and banana pudding.
4. Garnish with banana slices and grated chocolate (optional), and serve.
Enjoy in good company and health!