Recently I had the best tapioca pudding of my life. No exaggeration, this was amazing stuff! I work at a resort hotel on the Oregon coast, and we shared dessert after lunch. Both my husband and I were bowled over. Fortunately for me, the chef is a friend, and he agreed to share his recipe with me.
Tapioca pudding is basically cooked pearls of tapioca starch combined with a sweet vanilla custard. The pearls give it a bubbly consistency and cut the richness of the milk and the sweet of the sugar. It’s dense without being overwhelming, but a small serving will satisfy your dessert craving.
I tried the recipe at home, and got the same stellar results, confirmed by several friends and co-workers who sampled the pudding. Fortunately for you, the chef gave me permission to share it with you, so brace yourself for a real treat!
So here it is, compliments of Executive Chef Ken Martin of Fathoms Restaurant at the Inn at Spanish Head.
The process takes time, so don’t try to rush. You have to start the night before, so if you want pudding for tonight’s dessert and it’s already 4:30 p.m., make another plan.
|Tapioca pearls and water for soaking|
Start by soaking ½ cup tapioca pearls overnight in 1 ½ cup water. Don’t use “instant” tapioca, it isn’t the same thing.
|Soaked pearls with the rest|
of the ingredients
|Sugar and milk before cooking|
A couple hours before you want to eat, start the custard base.
|Boiled milk, ready to add pearls|
In a large saucepan mix 1 qt whole milk with ¾ cup sugar and bring to a boil. Watch this carefully, as once it reaches the boiling point, it will quickly boil over if left unattended. When the milk foams around the edge of the pan, it’s at the correct temperature.
|And the magic begins. You can see where the milk foamed around|
the edge of the pan
Drain the tapioca pearls and add them to the boiling milk. Stir to mix well. Reduce heat and simmer 25 minutes, stirring occasionally to prevent sticking.
|As you can see from the|
stove timer the 25 minutes
is just beginning
The pearls should become clear.
As you can see from this series of photos taken at five minute intervals, change is gradual, but you can clearly see the difference from the first shot to the last. (I didn’t realize I needed a better background for these shots until partway through. Maybe I should make another batch so I can get better pictures. Yeah, that’s the reason I need to do this again. For the pictures. Sure.)
|Simmering complete! The pearl is still slightly opaque,|
but much clearer than before.
|Adding sugar to the eggs|
|Egg mixture ready to combine with milk mixture|
While the milk mixture is simmering, combine 3 beaten eggs with ¾ cup sugar and blend well.
Slowly mix eggs into milk mixture. While Ken’s recipe did not specify, I did temper the eggs before adding them to the hot milk. Tempering guards against curdling or scrambling the eggs. To temper the eggs, slowly add about ½ cup of the hot milk mixture to the eggs and stir to incorporate. Repeat two more times. This will gradually raise the temperature of the egg mixture and make the two mixtures blend easily.
|Here you can see a few tapioca pearls in the egg mixture|
as it is poured into the saucepan
Bring the completed pudding back to a boil and cook 2 minutes.
|Everything is in the pot. Now we give it a final simmer.|
Remove from heat, add ¾ tsp vanilla.
Cover and chill.
|Into a bowl to cool before going in the refrigerator.|
To prevent a “skin” forming on top of your pudding, place a piece of plastic wrap directly on the surface of the pudding. Pudding can be eaten while still slightly warm, or completely chilled, as you prefer.
|This is the finished pudding, |
topped with a swirl of whipped cream .
Serving suggestions include layering with whipped cream in a parfait glass, adding fresh seasonal fruit, or spooning still-warm pudding over slices of pound cake. However you serve it, keep your portions fairly small. As I said before, this is dense and your guests may fill up quickly. Or they may demand seconds!!
Cover and refrigerate leftovers (if you have any – this is a perfect “company” dessert).
½ cup large tapioca pearls
1 ½ cup water
1 qt. whole milk
1 ½ cup sugar, divided
3 eggs, beaten
¾ tsp vanilla