Just like Aziz Ansari‘s homemade frittata and Mindy Kaling‘s favorite shrimp and grits, Jessica Alba‘s recent photos of her apple banana bread pudding set off the ol’ hunger pangs — and had us hankering for that recipe.
We weren’t the only ones: Hundreds of her followers posted comments asking for info on the actress’ healthy dish, which is made with egg whites, light brown sugar, and vanilla coconut milk — a sharp departure from caloric cream-soaked or donut bread puddings.
Well, ask and you shall receive because Alba is sharing her gluten-free, dairy-free — but flavor-full — recipe exclusively with us!
"After being away from home for a few weeks, I craved fall comfort food," the actress and co-founder of The Honest Company tells PEOPLE. "So, I wanted to make this delicious bread pudding with my girls [Honor, 5, and Haven, 2]. We adapted this recipe from Denise Jardine’s The Dairy-Free & Gluten-Free Kitchen, a cookbook that I have in my collection."
Jardine’s original recipe called for pears, but Alba subbed in "apples and bananas we already had" for a seasonal spin. She also added a touch of sweetness and spice, sprinkling a little cinnamon and vanilla sugar to the dish before baking.
"One of the reasons I love bread pudding is that the recipes are so versatile. You easily can adjust them to your liking and use what ingredients you have at home," says Alba. "While you can use any bread and milk you like, I cubed gluten-free bread because it’s dense and really soaked up the tasty coconut milk I used for the cream base. Don’t be afraid to try cow’s, almond, soy, or rice milks depending on your dietary needs."
"Of course, you never can have too much chocolate," she says. "If I were making this again, I would layer in more chocolate chips than the recipe called for!"
If you’re using fruits with their skins on, like apples, pears, or peaches, Alba recommends giving them a thorough rinse before baking: "Make sure to wash [them] really well, even if [they're] organic, to get rid of the handling contaminants, bacteria, and dirt," says the actress, who uses her Honest Fruit+ Veggie Wash.
"Everyone in the family loved the apple banana bread pudding," she says. "I call that a successful first attempt at making it!" Now, it’s your turn!
— Sonal Dutt, PEOPLE Great Ideas
Thoroughly grease an 8-by-11-by-2-inch glass baking dish. Scatter half of the bread cubes evenly over the bottom of the dish. Distribute the apples and bananas in a single layer on top of the bread.
Sprinkle half of the chocolate and half of the brown sugar evenly over the fruit. (Add a sprinkle of cinnamon and vanilla sugar, if desired.) Scatter the remaining bread and chocolate evenly over the top.
Whisk together the eggs and milk in a large bowl until well blended. Slowly put the egg mixture over the top of the bread. Set the dish aside for 20 minutes, periodically pushing the bread down lightly with the back of a fork, until the bread has absorbed much of the egg mixture. Sprinkle the remaining brown sugar on top of the bread (and a second sprinkle of cinnamon and vanilla sugar, if desired.). While the bread is soaking, preheat the oven to 325 degrees.
Set the baking dish in a larger pan; transfer to the oven and add enough hot water to the larger pan to reach halfway up the sides of the baking dish. Bake, uncovered, for 11/2 hours. The pudding should be slightly soft in the center and crisp on top. Remove from the oven and allow it to cook for 15 minutes before serving.