Sunday, January 11, 2015

Old School Dessert: Tapioca Pudding

In my family, tapioca was the go-to cure for colds, tummy aches, and most other ailments. I can't be sure it really cured anything, but I always felt better after eating a bowl. Today, I don't wait until I'm sick to make tapioca. We enjoy it year-round and sometimes dress it up with fresh fruit sauce or a sprinkling of nuts. And yes, I still find it comforting.

Tapioca is a starch extracted from a cassava root. It's a gluten-free thickener that can also be used in both savory and sweet dishes. If you've had bubble tea, you've enjoyed (giant) tapioca pearls. This recipe is from a tapioca manufacturer and uses regular (rather than instant) tapioca. It reminds me of the pudding I grew up eating.

Soak the tapioca overnight in a bowl of water

Drain tapioca. Heat milk in a double boiler. If you don't have a double boiler,
place a bowl over a pot of simmering water. Be sure the bottom of the bowl
does not touch the water. Add salt & tapioca. and cook for one hour.

Temper the eggs: beat yolks and sugar. Add 1/2 cup hot mixture to yolks.

Add egg mixture to tapioca mixture.
Continue cooking over low heat for 15 minutes until tapioca is very thick.
Remove from heat. Beat egg whites until stiff and stir into hot mixture. Add vanilla.
Chill in refrigerator. Bumpy, airy, creamy, sweet goodness!

Tapioca Pudding
1/2 cup regular (not instant) tapioca
2 1/2 cups milk
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup sugar
2 eggs, separated
1 tsp vanilla
Soak tapioca in a bowl with two cups room temperature water overnight. Drain water. In a double boiler, heat milk just until warm. Add salt and tapioca. Continue heating until small bubbles appear in the sides of the pan. Cover, turn heat to very low and cook for one hour. Make sure milk does not simmer or boil. Beat egg yolks and sugar together. Add about 1/2 cup of the hot mixture to yolks, blending thoroughly. Add yolk mixture to hot milk mixture, stirring constantly. Place double boiler over low heat and continue cooking until tapioca is very thick, about 15 minutes. Beat egg whites until stiff. Slowly fold whites into hot tapioca mixture. Stir in vanilla. Serve chilled. Makes 6-8 servings.

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