Tapioca pudding is one of those deeply satisfying comfort foods for me. It’s a bit of work, so I tend to make large batches when I do take the time.
Of late, I’ve made tapioca pudding with sucanat instead of plain refined sugar. It’s still a lot of sugar, but at least it’s a healthier sugar. One could also use rapadura, honey, et cetera. A touch of molasses might be yummy, too, but I haven’t tried that yet.
Here we go – my recipe for delicious, creamy, amazing, velvety tapioca pudding!
2 cups small pearl tapioca
10 cups milk
1 teaspoon salt
2 cups sucanat or other sweetener
8 eggs, separated
2 – 3 tablespoons pure vanilla extract, Nielsen-Massey Madagascar Bourbon Pure Vanilla Bean Paste, or Sonoma Syrup Co. Vanilla Bean Crush.
Yield: 1 Metric Honkload of Pudding
We begin the process for tapioca pudding the night before. Start with 2 cups small pearl tapioca in a large bowl; cover with 8 cups of water and allow to soak overnight. When you’re ready to begin cooking the next day, drain and discard the water.
Using a double boiler, heat 10 cups of milk until it’s just warm. I don’t have an “official” double boiler large enough to make this batch of pudding, so I just nested two large pots. You could also use a metal or glass bowl over a pot of water.
Add in the soaked tapioca and stir to ensure it’s not clumping up. Stir in the 1 teaspoon of salt. Continue cooking over medium heat until tiny bubbles begin forming at the edge of the pan, just before it begins to simmer.
Stir one final time, put the cover on, turn the heat to a very low setting, and let it cook for about an hour; we don’t want it to boil, or to make that “I’m about to boil” sound. Keep it hot, but not bubbling. Leaving it on low and walking away works for me.
When your hour is about up, separate the yolks from the eggs, reserving the whites. In a medium bowl, beat the yolks a bit to loosen them up, and then add the 2 cups of sucanat. Beat these together until well-incorporated, and the sucanat begins to dissolve. As with many things, I use a whisk or flat whisk for this.
With darker sugars, like sucanat, the egg yolk mixture will be darker than you might be used to with tapioca puddings which use white sugar. It’ll look something like this:
Next, we need to temper the egg and sucanat mixture so it doesn’t clump when we add it to the hot milk. Take a ladle full of the hot milk and drizzle it into the egg mixture, stirring continuously to distribute the heat. Add another ladle of milk in the same manner. Typically, for this volume, I add three to four ladles to bring the eggs and sucanat up to temperature.
Slowly pour the egg mixture into the hot milk, stirring continuously with a whisk until everything is mixed together well. Continuing over medium heat, cook the pudding until it’s quite thick; this could be anywhere from 10 – 20 minutes. Remove from heat.
While it’s cooking, whip the egg whites into a frenzy until they form medium-stiff peaks. When the pudding is thick, slowly fold the whites into the pudding until well-incorporated. What’s a medium-stiff peak? Peaks and valleys should hold their shapes initially, but begin to droop shortly.
Stir in the 2 -3 tablespoons ofvanilla extract. Voila!
You can serve this either warm or chilled, and it’ll be freaking amazing either way. Optionally top with chia seeds, sliced almonds, a touch of cream – anything you like!
Warm tapioca pudding on a cold evening is a delightful treat. Chilled tapioca pudding on a hot summer afternoon is equally wonderful.