Monday, April 21, 2014


Speed blogging! I’m busy busy busy and tired tired tired, but I feel bad for repeatedly neglecting you over the past month, so I’m just going to crank out some entries in a more slipshod manner than usual. Bear with me. First up: Another chapter in my long history of pudding mania. I saw this recipe at Smitten Kitchen and thought, “Hmm, do I like tapioca?” I vaguely recall my mom serving the instant stuff when I was a kid but don’t remember having any strong feelings toward it, although apparently tapioca is polarizing stuff, if the comments on the recipe are a fair representation. People seem to either love it or hate it, with texture being the main sticking point. I tend to like creamy-chewy concoctions, so I suspected I’d be in the tapioca-liking camp, and since coconut milk, vanilla, and cardamom turned my rice pudding indifference into passionate love, I figured they could do the same for my tapioca ignorance. I bought some Bob’s Red Mill small pearl tapioca (which reminds me alarmingly of Styrofoam fragments), fiddled with the recipe to mimic the rice pudding (not being a fan of either mangos or effort, I skipped the toppings from the Smitten Kitchen version), and got to work.

It turns out that while I can see why tapioca weirds people out, I do like it, especially when it’s dressed up in so many of my favorite flavors. It doesn’t hurt that it’s incredibly easy to make, either (although, as you can see, it did prove hard to photograph). Soak, mix, simmer, and you’re done! Its starchiness turns it into pudding without much effort on your part, and I find the texture fascinating. This is a comforting, nursery-style dessert that still feels relatively light and refreshing. Since I now have a giant bag of tapioca to use up, I’m extra glad the experiment worked out.

1/3 cup small pearl tapioca
2½ cups coconut milk (light or full-fat; a 13.5-ounce can contains 1¾ cups)
1 egg yolk
1/3 cup granulated sugar
¼ teaspoon table salt or a heaped ¼ teaspoon sea salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract or the seeds from 1 small vanilla bean
¼-½ teaspoon ground cardamom

1. In a medium saucepan, soak tapioca in coconut milk for 30 minutes.

2. Whisk in egg yolk, sugar, salt, and vanilla bean seeds, if using (if using extract, you’ll add it in a bit). Place saucepan over medium heat until mixture comes to a simmer, then reduce it to very low heat so it’s barely bubbling. Cook until it thickens, about 15 minutes, stirring frequently.

3. Remove from heat and add cardamom, plus vanilla extract, if using. (Pudding will seem thin, about the consistency of thick gravy, but it will set after chilling in the fridge.) Pour into pudding cups to chill for several hours or overnight.

Serves: 4-6
Time: 1 hour plus chilling time
Leftover potential: Good.

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