To my knowledge, I'm not sure that I ever had banana pudding growing up. My dad will probably read this and call me immediately and remind me of all the times that I had banana pudding, but I honestly don't remember it!
I do know that when I moved to Eastern NC, suddenly banana pudding was everywhere. At every special meal with my husband's family, at Thanksgiving, Christmas, summer picnics, barbecues, and every restaurant around... seriously. Everywhere. Because of this my husband is something of a banana pudding connoisseur.
3 years ago I had to give up banana pudding. It's made with "real" (read that: gluteny name brand "Nabisco") vanilla wafers (don't you dare make it with the cheapie store brand cookies... Michael knows...), real homemade vanilla pudding (although Jello-brand instant will suffice when Michael's mom is short on time), bananas, and topped with cool whip or a beautifully baked egg white meringue topping.
So between the gluten-filled cookies and the milk-based pudding: traditional, eastern NC banana pudding would just be a recipe for disaster for this sensitive gluten free, casein free tummy.
Over the holidays I really wanted to make gluten free, casein free banana pudding. Not just for me, but for Michael.
Since I've never been able to make pudding successfully from scratch, I decided to use 2 packages of Dr. Oetker's Organic Vanilla Pudding mix . This made 4 cups of pudding, enough for a small assembled banana pudding. The dry mix is gluten free and casein free. In place of the milk called for to create the pudding, I used a mixture of half vanilla hemp milk and half lite coconut milk. (This is a cooked filling and it will need to be chilled at least 8 hours before using in the assembled pudding.) I made the vanilla pudding at night, chilled it, and then assembled it with the cookies and bananas the following day.
For the vanilla wafers, I decided to use Mi Del Arrowroot Animal Cookies . Do be aware that while these are gluten free cookies, they are made with soy flour. (One more reason to double check that food label when you are at the store! *sigh*) However, there are several other brands of vanilla gluten free cookies that would work perfectly for banana pudding!
I skipped the traditional topping of cool whip or meringue on this easy pudding. I realized it didn't really need it, and honestly we enjoyed this banana pudding just as much without it. Sometimes keeping it simple is the best thing to do! Enjoy!
Easy Gluten Free, Casein Free Banana Pudding
3-4 slightly ripe bananas, sliced 2 packages gluten free vanilla pudding mix 2 cups vanilla hemp milk (for pudding) 2 cups lite coconut milk 1 (8 oz.) package gluten free, casein free arrowroot cookies -or- other gluten free vanilla cookies of your choice, reserve 1/4-1/2 cup cookies for crumbling on top of casserole.
Cook the vanilla pudding using the vanilla hemp milk and lite coconut milk according to package directions. Chill the pudding overnight or for at least 8 hours.
To assemble the pudding: In a small 1-2 qt. casserole dish layer cookies, then banana slices, and then pudding. Repeat.
Crush 1/4 -1/2 cup of the arrowroot cookies and sprinkle on top of the last layer of pudding. Feel free to add a final layer of cool whip, whipped cream, or you can even bake a simple meringue topping on top of the banana pudding (and chill afterwards).