I couldn’t be around for the initial taste test of this dessert, so before I left I was careful to tell my tasters that though the pudding might look like strawberry or raspberry, it was actually banana and cinnamon. How does a pudding like that end up pink? The secret ingredient is cinnamon hearts. They’re for sale everywhere around Valentine’s Day, and they’ll be reduced to clear after that, so if you get to like this dish, you can buy up a supply of them.
Yes, I know cinnamon hearts are not exactly healthy — they’re candy, after all. But eating them in a pudding with milk and fruit is a little less bad for you than eating them straight. Also, with a limit of four ingredients, I jumped at the chance to use a single ingredient that could take the places of both sugar and cinnamon.
If the red dye concerns you, try using cinnamon sugar instead (make it by adding two tablespoons of cinnamon to half a cup of white sugar — brown sugar works too, but it’ll make for a whole new flavor). Two tablespoons for four servings? Right, this is a very cinnamon-y (that’s a word, I saw it on a restaurant menu) dish. But the banana flavor also comes through.
Whisking constantly while the hearts are melting is a must, otherwise they can stick to the bottom of the pan. They can stick to the whisk, too, but that’s easier to deal with — you can just wash them off in the warm mixture. It didn’t occur to me to butter the whisk before I started, but that might help.
If you like using cinnamon hearts in cooking and baking, there are plenty of recipes out there for cookies, cupcakes, and even popcorn with a topping made of them. Any of them would be a great Valentine’s Day treat — but this one is extra simple.
- 1 small ripe banana
- 1-¾ cups whole milk
- ½ cup cinnamon hearts (plus more for garnish — optional)
- ¼ cup blending flour
- Mash the banana.
- Combine with the milk and purée in a food processor.
- Transfer to a small pot.
- Heat over medium low heat till just bubbling at the edges.
- Carefully add the cinnamon hearts.
- Whisk constantly till they melt.
- Whisk in the blending flour till the mixture thickens slightly.
- Remove from heat, pour into individual dishes and refrigerate for 2-3 hours.
- Sprinkle with a few more cinnamon hearts.