My “little girl” turned 18 last week. I feel like I should have something profound to say on this momentous occasion, but everything that comes to mind is so trite: “Time flies.” “They grow up so fast.” “It seems like only yesterday that she started kindergarten.” There’s a reason those expressions are so overused: The feelings of amazement, pride, and nostalgia you feel at seeing your child become an adult are both universal and indescribable. “Where does the time go?”
So instead of spouting more cliches, I thought I would stroll along memory lane and remind you of E’s earlier appearances on this blog. Here she is blowing out the candles on her 9th birthday, when I had only been blogging 3 months. And here she is on her 10th birthday, looking like she’s costumed for a Harry Potter movie. And here she is actually posing for pictures on her 11th birthday.
You may notice two things about these birthday posts: First, they all feature some luscious, not fat-free dessert. Second, except for once on her 14th birthday, E stopped allowing me to post her birthday photos on the blog. So it is quite a feat that today I’ve been given permission to post a photo of her taken just three days after her 18th birthday. Last week E and I took our final college tour (she has to choose one by May 1), and while driving from one college to another, we stopped for coffee and leg-stretching in the town of Marion, Iowa, where we discovered several irresistible antique stores and this train caboose:
For her birthday, E continued the family tradition of choosing an untraditional dessert instead of birthday cake. She specifically asked for my husband’s bread pudding, which as I’ve mentioned before, contains more fat than you can shake a stick (of butter) at. Well, that wasn’t going to happen. Instead, I adapted my Pumpkin Bread Pudding to use bananas, and she loved it. It’s an amazingly decadent tasting dessert, but unlike some of E’s earlier birthday recipes, it contains no added oil, chocolate chips, or coconut. The rum or brandy in the sauce added an adult flavor that seemed perfect for an 18th birthday–her first as an adult and her last here at home with us.
Banana Bread Pudding
- 1 16-ounce loaf French bread
- 1/2 cup raisins
- 1 1/2 cup unsweetened almond milk vanilla or plain (or other non-dairy milk)
- 1 cup mashed overripe bananas
- 1/4 cup maple syrup
- 1/4 cup dark brown sugar
- 2 teaspoons cornstarch or potato starch
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 1 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
- 1/4 teaspoon allspice
- 1/2 cup apple cider or apple juice
- 1/4 cup maple syrup
- 1 teaspoon cornstarch mixed with 1 tablespoon apple juice
- 1 1/2 - 2 tablespoons brandy, rum, or bourbon (see Notes below)
- 1/4 cup chopped pecans or walnuts optional
- Cut or tear the bread into bite-sized pieces. If the bread seems moist or dense, spread it out on a cookie sheet and toast it for a few minutes in the oven. Place it in a large bowl and add the raisins.
- Put the non-dairy milk into the blender along with the banana, maple syrup, sugar, cornstarch, vanilla, baking powder, and spices. Blend until smooth. Pour it over the bread, using a silicone spatula to get out every drop. Stir well to completely coat all of the bread. Set aside to soak for a few minutes while you ready the pan and preheat the oven.
- Preheat oven to 350F. Line an 8×8-inch baking dish with parchment paper or oil lightly. Pour the bread pudding into the pan in an even layer. Bake for about 45 minutes or until top is set and beginning to brown. Remove from oven and allow to cool for at least 15 minutes.
- While the pudding is cooling, make the sauce. Place the apple cider and maple syrup in a small saucepan over medium heat, and bring to a simmer, stirring often, until reduced to about half. Carefully add the cornstarch mixture and stirring constantly, bring to a boil and cook for another couple of minutes, until mixture is no longer cloudy. Remove from heat and add the brandy or other spirits a little at a time, to taste. Stir in the nuts. Poke a few holes in the top of the bread pudding with a toothpick, and pour the sauce over the top, distributing nuts evenly. Cut into squares and serve warm.
If you don’t want to use alcohol, try substituting a half teaspoon or so of rum extract.
Celebrate and enjoy!