Simplest Tapioca Pudding

23 May

Cameraman loves tapioca pudding. He talks about how his mom used to make it, and how he thinks about it, and how much he misses eating it. Maybe that’s a big part of why we get along so well.

I made vanilla pudding once using Mark Bittman’s recipe from How to Cook Everything. (On a side note, the related iPhone app has saved dinner many times, since I don’t have internet access at the grocery store.) The taste of the vanilla bean got rave reviews, while the pudding itself got approval, but not the I-must-have-this-again-and-will-think-about-it-and-crave-it-at-unlikely-moments comments special favorites get. I thought to myself, he’s still got tapioca on the brain.

Meanwhile, our friend Kirk invited us out on a shopping excursion. He used to live in Jerusalem with his lovely wife, and recently relocated to Ramallah. He knows a collection of small producers and wineries located in the Judean Hills, aka the area between Jerusalem and Tel Aviv. He also loves to eat good food. On this outing, he took us to an impressive store connected to the Flam winery. Poking around, I found a lot of spices (including star anise) and foreign foods, including sriracha hot sauce in the rooster bottle and (cue angel chorus…) a bag of small tapioca pearls. They went in the shopping basket.

101 Cookbooks came through again with the simplest recipe for non-instant tapioca pearls. Mine took longer to cook, though that may have been because of my paranoia about us getting stomachaches from eating raw tapioca, but it all turned out alright. It received rave reviews and requests for another double batch. So maybe next time, I’ll just relax a little bit and stop and sniff the vanilla beans.

Simplest Tapioca Pudding
Serves 8-12 as a snack or dessert (or even breakfast if it’s that kind of morning)

2/3 cup small tapioca pearls
7 cups milk, divided
2/3 cup sugar
1 vanilla bean, split with seeds scraped (or 1 teaspoon vanilla extract)
4 egg yolks
1/2 teaspoon salt

Combine tapioca pearls and 1 cup milk in large pot. Soak for one hour.

Meanwhile, separate eggs for egg yolks and beat until consistent in a bowl that can hold at least 1 cup more. Split vanilla bean pod and scrape the seeds from the inside.

Deliberate whether to wash your hands or not, since they now smell so good. Finally give in to OCD tendencies.

Add remaining milk, sugar and scraped vanilla bean pod and scrapings to your pot. (If using vanilla extract, add it last, after the tapioca has cooked.) Turn heat up to medium until mixture is warm. Keep stirring continuously with a wooden spoon or whisk. Once on the verge of boiling, turn heat down, so mixture is still steaming, but not at full simmer. Take 1 cup warm mixture and add it to bowl with egg yolks and beat gently, so they are homogenous. Whisk egg yolk mixture into contents of the pudding pot and keep stirring and watch the mixture thicken to a familiar pudding consistency.

I ended up stirring for about half an hour more, but do keep tasting until the tapioca pearls give only gentle resistance to the bite and have that almost clear look to them.

Eat half of the product of your labors warm. Or maybe gild the lily with strawberries or chocolate or crumbled cookies on top. Save the rest in the refrigerator to enjoy for decadent breakfasts or last-minute desserts. And remember that sharing is caring!

Adapted from Heidi Swanson’s Tapioca Pudding Recipe at 101 Cookbooks


4 Responses to “Simplest Tapioca Pudding”

  1. Jane May 25, 2011 at 4:26 am #

    Hi there –
    I loved your comments re efforts to make the perfect pudding. Yes, your cameraman friend and his sis loved tapioca pudding – in their early years they called it tafioca…
    I had forgotten how popular it was!
    Enjoyed your blog,

    • domesticbedouin May 25, 2011 at 2:16 pm #

      Thanks Jane. I’ll have to make some for you during your next visit!

  2. Katrina May 26, 2011 at 10:53 pm #

    This looks delicious. I hope you can make it with soymilk. I actually mean you as I really do want you to make it with soymilk when you visit.

    • domesticbedouin May 28, 2011 at 10:47 am #

      I suppose I will have to practice with soymilk before I get to you. They actually have it here, so I can perfect my techniques (mostly stirring 🙂

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