coconut tapioca pudding
Have you ever wanted to transform a sad gross 70s food into a vaguely tropical glamour food that you eat until you puke? Great news. This is that recipe.
Dorie Greenspan is a kitchen goddess sent from on high to give us foods that no one else will give us, and to write flawless recipes to make sure those foods are the best version of themselves that will ever exist, forever and ever, amen. I don't know why, I'm guessing divine intervention, but one day I decided that tapioca pudding should be the next thing I made, and it was toward Dorie that I turned. I have since turned to Dorie no less than...let's say ten times since the real number is embarrassing.
Her recipe is actually from Pierre Herme, who referred to them as perles du Japon, or "Japanese pearls", which makes total sense when you see the finished dish. Do not use instant tapioca for this, it will not work. You need the large pearls, which start out hard enough to crack a tooth and need to be soaked overnight. Forewarned is forearmed, people.
coconut tapioca pudding
adapted from Baking Chez Moi by Dorie Greenspan
- 1/2 cup large pearl tapioca, soaked 8 hours or overnight in 2 cups of cold water
- 1 can (13.5 oz can) unsweetened full fat coconut milk (I prefer Taste of Thai brand)
- 1 cup whole milk
- 1/3 cup granulated sugar
- 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
When you're ready to make the pudding, drain the soaked tapioca and put it in a medium pot or sauce pan, along with the coconut milk, whole milk, and sugar. Cook over medium heat, stirring as the sugar dissolves and the milk comes to a gentle boil. Don't let the milk boil over or stick to the bottom of the pot, so keep stirring. Reduce the heat to low and simmer, stirring often, until the milk has cooked down and reduced.
Kween Dorrie has given excellent cues that are crucial to success here (though still very simple). As it thickens, you'll start to notice that the milk no longer pours straight off your spoon, and transforms into the texture of thin yogurt (not Greek, but rather the shitty kind with the slimy strawberries mixed in that we all ate in the 90s). The pearls take a little while to transform, but when they're done they'll be larger and translucent, and will start to burst (the biological term is 'lyse' if you need a quick Google). The burst pearls will also thicken as the pudding cooks (and will thicken more as it cools), and when it's done there will be a top layer of milk with the pearls bobbing just underneath (some will be visible, others not). The first time I made this it took 15 minutes, sometimes it takes me 30. One time I just got tired of cooking it and took it off early; while still delicious, it was more like slurping cereal milk than eating pudding. So take Dorie's advice and "turn on some music, relax, and enjoy the Zen of stirring your pudding".
When it's thickened, scrape the pudding into a heatproof bowl and stir in the vanilla. Cover with plastic wrap, pressing it fully into contact with the surface of the pudding (otherwise it forms a skin, which people have opinions about). Cool to room temp, or try refrigerating until cold. Both temps are lovely so serve it how you like.
The top pic shows the pudding with some leftover roasted blackberry sauce stirred in, and is also sensational with roasted pineapple. The sprig of apple mint (which tastes exactly how you think it would) is a cute lil topper if you're so inclined, but you should experiment with other varieties like orange mint and pineapple mint if you're on the mint bandwagon like me.