Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Tapioca Pudding














Tapioca isn't as popular as rice pudding.  My guess is due to the fact that preparation and cooking time goes on forever (2 days).  First, the tapioca pearls must be soaked overnight, like beans.  Unlike beans, you can't buy canned tapioca pearls, just the dried stuff.  You can buy canned tapioca pudding, but it tastes like canned tapioca pudding.  Before you say, "Hey,  'they' sell small pearl tapioca,"  that's exactly what I use (gee, the larger pearls must take a week to soak).  "But how 'bout the instant stuff?" you retort helpfully.  Yes, that would speed up the process, but I like how cute those little pearl balls look, suspended in the custard, like the bubbles in cheap hair gel.

When I am able to carve out a huge block of time, I make tapioca.  Usually that happens every other decade.

This is the decade!  Yay! And yum!

The original recipe calls for separating the eggs, beating the whites and yolks separately, then eventually adding both to the hot tapioca mixture.  This recipe already takes a million years to make.  I didn't think it necessary to prolong the agony, and so whole beaten eggs were used.  The final result is not quite as light, but still very tasty.

Tapioca Pudding
slightly adapted from the back of the Reese® Small Pearl Tapioca bag
makes 6 servings

1/2 cup small pearl tapioca
2 cups room temperature water
2 1/2 cups milk (low-fat okay)
1/4 tsp. table salt
1/2 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp. vanilla extract
whipped cream, for garnish

The night before, combine tapioca and water in a medium bowl.   Cover and let soak at room temperature overnight.  The next morning, drain off water.  Set aside for a moment.

In a 2 quart saucepan, heat milk on medium until no longer cold.  Add tapioca and salt.  Continue to heat mixture just until barely simmering (a few small bubbles will appear at sides of pan).

Cover, turn heat down to very low (use simmer burner down low if you have one), and gently cook for one hour.  You just want a little heat without bubbles forming.

Meanwhile, set eggs on counter to take chill off.














As the tapioca mixture gently heats, the mixture should slowly start to thicken up.  Stir occasionally.
















After one hour, the mixture should be quite thick.  Stir in the sugar.














Break eggs into a bowl and whisk.














Mix about a 1/4 cup of the hot tapioca mixture into the eggs to temper them (this helps avoid possible curdling in the next step).














Slowly pour in the egg mixture into the tapioca, stirring constantly to prevent curdled (scrambled) eggs on top.  Not a good thing.














Cook on low, stirring occasionally, for another 15 minutes.














Add the sugar that you didn't add earlier because you skipped the steps of separating and whipping the whites so you missed the part about adding the sugar earlier.














Stir in vanilla, then remove pot from heat.














You have the option of spooning the pudding into individual servings, or just dumping the entire batch into a 1 quart casserole.  Guess what I did?














... except for the cook's portion.  If serving right away, top with whipped cream.  Otherwise, cover and refrigerate before serving.  Can be served warm or cold














How can you refuse this face?

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