Baked Rice Pudding with Bananas, Raisins, and Toasted Almonds

Originally written for a Hallowe’en article (in 2008…and titled “Creamed Maggot Pie with Bug Bits, Phlegm, and Fingernails), this sweet treat is as comforting as it is delicious. Unfortunately, I don’t have a photo on hand.

Baked Rice Pudding with Bananas, Raisins, and Toasted Almonds

2 tablespoons tapioca starch
2/3 cup nondairy milk
1/4 cup pure maple syrup
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon fine sea or Himalayan salt
3 cups cooked, short-grain brown rice
1 cup banana chunks
1/2 cup raisins
1 tablespoon unrefined cane sugar
1/4 cup sliced almonds, toasted

Preheat oven to 400°F . Lightly oil a 9-inch pie dish and set aside.

Whisk together tapioca starch and 2 tablespoons of the nondairy milk until smooth. Whisk in the remaining nondairy milk and the maple syrup. Add the vanilla extract, cinnamon and salt. Mix well. Stir in rice, bananas, and raisins. Use a rubber spatula to scrape the mixture into prepared pie dish. Sprinkle with the sugar.

Bake for 17 to 20 minutes, until bubbly. Let cool about 30 minutes. Top with sliced almonds. Serve with extra nondairy milk, coconut milk iced cream, or pure maple syrup, if desired.

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Fudge-Filled Chocolate-Coated Banana Pops

Inspired by a Dairy Queen delicacy, bananas, nuts, seeds, dried fruit, and chocolate give the illusion of overpriced indulgence made in a few minutes at home. With a chocolaty almond fudge filling and a solid chocolate coating, creamy frozen bananas can battle any ice cream bar in this customizable treat that everyone will love.

banana pops

Fudge-Filled Chocolate-Coated Banana Pops

For the almond chocolate fudge filling:
1/2 cup roasted creamy almond butter
1/3 cup pure maple syrup
2 tablespoons dark unsweetened cocoa powder
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt

4 medium bananas, peeled and cut in half length-wise
8 dowels or popsicle sticks

For the chocolate coating:
1 cup nondairy semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 tablespoon coconut oil

To assemble:
Toppings, such as chopped toasted almonds, sunflower seeds, gogi berries, coconut flakes, rice crisp cereal, candied ginger, hemp seeds, trail mix, grated orange peel, et cetera

To make the filling, put the almond butter, maple syrup, cocoa powder, vanilla extract, and sea salt. Mix until smooth. Spread the mixture on each banana half. Put a dowel in the filling (so it sticks), then top with the other banana half. Freeze on a waxed paper-lined plate or cutting board in the freezer until the bananas are frozen and the fudge is firm, about 3 hours.

To make the coating, put the chocolate chips and coconut oil in a microwave-safe bowl. Heat in 30 second intervals on medium-power, stirring between each one, until melted and smooth. It is easiest if the melted chocolate is in a shallow bowl for dipping, so scrape the mixture into one if desired.

Working with one banana pop at a time, spread whichever topping you are going to use for the first banana on a plate. Once you dip the banana pop in the chocolate, it will harden quickly, so you want to work quickly. Dip the banana pop in the chocolate, then either roll it in the topping of choice or sprinkle it on. Return the pop to the waxed paper. Repeat with the remaining pops. Freeze until the coating is solid and the banana, if it thawed at all, has rehardened. Serve from the freezer, and store extras in a sealable container or plastic bag in the freezer.

Two Minute Banana Cinnamon Caramel Crunch Ice Cream

You’d never think that popping a few bananas in the freezer would result in an ice-cream-like indulgence… even better, it’ll be done in a snap. The dates give a sweet taste akin to smooth caramel, while the pecans add an extra crunch.

Two-Minute Banana-Cinnamon Caramel Crunch Ice Cream2

Two Minute Banana-Cinnamon-Caramel Crunch Ice Cream

4 overripe bananas, peeled, cut in three pieces each, and frozen*
3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 cup honey dates, chopped
1/3 cup toasted pecans, chopped (don’t toaste pecans for a raw version)

Toss bananas in food processor with cinnamon. Let sit about five minutes, until lightly thawed, and whiz until smooth. Stir in dates and pecans. Serve immediately. (If it gets too soft, you can put it in the freezer for about 10 minutes.)

*Using overripe bananas adds extra sweetness to the end result.