Do you remember Banana Split “Cake”? I sure do! It’s not a cake at all, instead it is a layered no-bake cold dessert.
A family friend turned me on to this decadent dessert when I was in elementary school and when I started making desserts in my early teens, it was one I added to my recipe box.
The traditional version consists of a graham cracker crust topped with sweet cream cheese filling, layers of fruit and a drizzle of chocolate syrup, nuts and plenty of whipped topping (as in the store-bought chemically stuff).
So many allergens (and additives) lurking there!
The simple makeover would be to simply sub out the regular ingredients with gluten-free ones, if it’s only gluten you’re looking to replace, and you can have a near-identical Banana Split “Cake” on your hands in no time, which is just fine, if you only need gluten-free.
But, if you’re like me and you have multiple food allergies, and you’re after a more “clean” version of even the more indulgent foods you enjoy on occasion, I have the recipe makeover for you!
Instead of subbing the graham crust with a gluten-free version, I decided to avoid grains completely and to make a naturally sweet crust using dates and seeds. You could, of course, sub your favorite nuts for the sun seeds, if you prefer. I do think toasting, whether you use seeds or nuts, is essential to the depth of flavor in the crust. Trust me, it’s worth the few minutes you’ll spend toasting!
For the filling, I went simple and straightforward with the thickened portion of canned coconut milk. Don’t skimp on the fat here, or you’ll end up with an icy center – ick! I don’t add sugar to my filling; however, to sweeten or not to sweeten, it’s entirely up to you (more on this in the recipe, below).
Toppings are fruit, just like in the traditional dessert, but instead of strawberries, I use fresh cherries when I can get my cherry-loving paws on local fruit, which is right now. Use what you like. If you don’t eat bananas, leave them out, substitute something you do eat and rename the whole thing if that’s what it takes. Make it YOUR dessert. :)
Next, in place of chocolate syrup, I melt down baking pieces from the Clever Hen. The bittersweet and semi-sweet chocolates are dairy-free (if you have a true dairy allergy, note that the chocolates are processed on shared equipment with milk chocolate). And yes, they are gluten-free, processed in a gluten-free facility. These Guittard chocolates, are also kosher, peanut-free, preservative-free pure chocolate delight! If you’re wondering about soy, some of the chocolates do contain soy lecithin as a plant-derived emulsifier, but before you write these off, you may want to read these Facts about Soy Lecithin in a Soy-Free Diet. (I have a true soy allergy, so I understand the confusion about soy lecithin. If you prefer a soy lecithin free product, use a soy-free brand of chocolate.)
And finally, garnishes like a few more chocolate bits and plump sweet cherries or strawberries make for an especially pretty dessert!
The result tastes so indulgent, but you know you’re eating a more pure treat and even getting some added nutrition with the seeds and fruit! (I think we can call this one vegan, and paleo, but who needs labels when it tastes this good?!)
Don’t let the lengthy recipe scare you away… it looks long, but it’s easy as pie. Promise.GF DF No Bake Banana Split Dessert
This recipe is free from gluten, dairy, soy, peanuts, tree nuts (coconut is not a nut, learn morehere), eggs, corn, grains.
- For the crust:
- 1 cup unsalted sunflower seeds, toasted (See How to Toast Sunflower Seeds)
- 1 cup Medjool dates, halved, pits removed
- 2 Tablespoons liquid from coconut milk (See below, "For the filling".)
- For the filling:
- 2 cans coconut milk (full fat), chilled overnight, separated - you will use the thick (fat) portion of the coconut milk and reserve the liquid portion for another use, such as for part of the liquid in cooking gluten-free grains like rice or quinoa (You will use 2 T. for the crust, see above.)
- 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract (grain/alcohol free vanilla extract/flavoring is available; seeYour Questions Answered for more)
- Optional: for a sweeter filling, add ¼ confectioners' sugar or 2 Tablespoons pure maple syrup to the filling mixture (Make your own corn-free confectioners' sugar.)
- For the fruit topping:
- 8 ounce can of crushed pineapple in its own juice, very well drained (reserve juice for another use - I love using it to make a fruity vinaigrette for salad or as part of the liquid when cooking gluten-free grains such as rice or quinoa.)
- 2 medium bananas, peeled and sliced
- About ½ cup fresh cherries, halved, pits removed (You may substitute fresh sliced strawberries, if you prefer, or use some of each.)
- For the chocolate drizzle:
- ¼ cup GF DF semi-sweet chocolate (Like Clever Hen chocolate chips.)
- 2 Tablespoons organic unrefined coconut oil
- Optional garnish:
- Additional 2 Tablespoons chocolate pieces
- Cherries or strawberries
- For the crust:
- Combine sun seeds, dates and coconut liquid in food processor. Pulse to combine, then process until the mixture begins to come together into a ball of "dough". You may need to stop the processor and scrape down the sides 2 or 3 times during processing.
- Transfer the crust mixture to an 11 x 7 inch dish. (I use a 3-quart casserole for this recipe.)
- Press the mixture evenly on the bottom only of the dish; set aside.
- For the filling:
- In your blender, combine the solid portion of the coconut milk and vanilla. If you're using a sweetener, add it, too. (I do not add a sweetener to my filling, but do what suits your taste.) Process the mixture so that you end up with a thick whipped "cream". (See my recipe forWhipped DF Coconut Milk Topping for why I recommend a blender for this.)
- Spoon filling mixture onto crust, spreading evenly.
- To assemble:
- Top the cream with the fruit in order given, placing the fruit evenly over the filling.
- Transfer the dish to the freezer for 1 hour, during which time you can prepare the chocolate drizzle.
- For the chocolate drizzle:
- Combine chocolate and coconut oil over very low heat in a small saucepan and stir until chocolate is just melted. (Alternatively, you can microwave the mixture, if you prefer, for 30 seconds, then in additional 10-second bursts until the chocolate is just melted.)
- Allow the chocolate drizzle to cool slightly, then remove the dessert from the freezer and use a spoon to drizzle the chocolate over the fruit.
- To finish the dessert, garnish with additional chocolate piece, cherries or strawberries, as you like.
- Store the dessert in the freezer, then allow it to sit at room temperature for about 15 minutes prior to slicing into squares and serving.
Disclosure: I received one or more complimentary products or services mentioned above in the hope that I would mention it on my website and/or in social media. Regardless,I only recommend products or services I believe may be good products/services for my readers. I disclose this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”
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