When The Progeny return from their far-flung places, The Goddess likes to try to prepare the foods they feel are special. The Eldest One arrives tomorrow, and I must say, tapioca pudding is high on his list of favorites…and big chunks of red meat, nicely charred on the outside and lovely and pink on the inside. But that really is another post, isn’t it? So tonight, tapioca pudding is being made tonight.
This is the tapioca recipe my mother made. I must say that it is pretty tasty stuff. We like it chilled, but The Progeny, and they all love this, will eat it anytime, anyway and anywhere!
Tapioca is a starch extracted from cassava root; it is, or was, indigenous to Africa. Currently most of the tapioca we use comes from Brazil, which makes sense since, it came there with the Portuguese and Spanish slave traders. In powdered form, tapioca flour, makes a great thickening agent and is the principle ingredient in the wonderful Brazilian treat, pão de queijo, or in English, “cheese bread”. Tapioca is naturally gluten free, as well.
But today, we’re working with the pearls, an entirely different product from the large “fish eye” tapioca of Asian buffet fame, and thus are handled entirely differently. These are the tiny orbs, that have been “pre-cooked” and are usually sold under the name Minute® Tapioca. These pearls are opaque, but when cooked they swell and become clear. It is imperative that you allow the dry tapioca soak with the eggs, sugar and milk for at least 5 minutes. If they sit there for 10-15 minutes, because you became overly involved in that trashy novel you’re reading, don’t worry. No harm done. But, don’t skip the soaking; the pudding still will be tasty, but have a slightly crunchy texture. Not exactly what we’re shooting for here.
Make certain you whisk this constantly, once you begin cooking the mixture. It sticks to the bottom of the pan, and you’ll want to use a nice, heavy pan and keep it over lower heat. The cooking process will take about 5-7 minutes to begin to simmer. Remember, the mixture will thicken, but not be thick. It will become thicker and “set” as it cools.
Old-Fashioned Tapioca Pudding
- 3 eggs, well beaten
- 6-7 tablespoons of Minute® Tapioca (see the NOTE)
- 4 cup milk
- 1 1/2 cups half-and-half or evaporated milk (not sweetened condensed)
- 2/3 cup sugar
- Large pinch of kosher salt
- 2 tablespoon pure vanilla extract (you read it correctly…that’s tablespoons!)
Combine the beaten eggs, milk, half-and-half, tapioca, sugar and salt in a heavy bottomed saucepan; whisk briefly. Let stand for 5-10 minutes.
Cook over low heat, whisking frequently, making certain to go all over the bottom of the pan. This mixture has a tendency to stick a little. Continue to cook until the mixture comes to the boil (this will take are 5 minutes). When the mixture reaches the boil, continue to boil gently for 1 minute, whisking constantly.
Remove the pan from the heat and let stand for about 10-15 minutes, whisking now and then. Whisk in the vanilla extract thoroughly. Pour into a serving bowl, cover with plastic wrap, laying the wrap directly on the pudding and chill for several hours or overnight. (The mixture will thicken as it sits and cools.) Serve chilled with a dollop of whipped cream and a dusting of Vietnamese cinnamon, if desired.
NOTE: This will produce a reasonably thick pudding. If you want the finished pudding to be more “runny”, then use the lesser amount of tapioca.
Old-Fashioned Tapioca Pudding Recipe©Marcia Lahens 2015. All rights reserved.
You did read the vanilla amount correctly…2 tablespoons! We love vanilla and it simply makes this pudding more delicious; I used vanilla paste here (that’s what those teensy, brown specks are). Don’t leave the salt out; it us taste the vanilla and sugar…remember, it’s all about balance. Also, the pudding will thicken considerably as it cools.
You can use coconut milk, instead of regular milk, but I must admit, when I did it that way, the coconut flavor was not all that prevalent. However, I’m afraid we’re purists and don’t like to mess with the original. Though, I have served the pudding with whipped cream and a nice sprinkling of toasted coconut, sans the cinnamon and it was delicious. I have added grated citrus peel and have also made a chocolate version, but we always return to the original.
If you don’t want a crust to form on the top, and you really don’t want that…this isn’t chocolate pudding, okay? That’s why you put the plastic wrap, directly on the tapioca pudding. You will be able to just peel it away.
That’s it! It goes together very quickly, and it’s worth every moment you spend making this, particularly for The Progeny. They do so love it and what’s a mother to do?