This ain’t your momma’s tapioca pudding. Not that there’s anything wrong with your momma’s version, but let’s face it — tapioca needs a little bit of a face-lift if it’s going to get dragged out of the diners and kitchens of the 1950s. If it were ever possible for tapioca to be described as tantalizing, this would be it. It’s not so much a pudding as it is a delicate soup… for dessert. Maybe I’m not describing it with the adoration that this dish requires. It’s relatively simple, really refreshing, and wonderfully versatile. Take my word for it until you try it for yourself.
- 2/3 cups small pearl tapioca and enough water to cover them completely (and then some!)
- 1.5 cups water
- 1/2 cup organic sugar cane
- 1/6 cup maple syrup
- 1/2 cup soy milk*
- 1 can coconut milk, which is about 2 cups*
- about 1 cup diced young coconut and/or sweet coconut gel and/or any other fruit of your choice
- 4 cups water
* I’m a big fan of light soy milk and coconut milk because I have a really low threshold for rich, creamy “milk” products. However, if you want to have a rich, creamy sauce for your tapioca, you’ll need to use the regular version of these products, because the light versions have a lot more water in them and will make your sauce waterier. Not that that’s necessarily a bad thing on a hot summer’s day, but I figured you should know.
First, soak the tapioca pearls in cold water for 20 minutes.
In the meantime, bring the 1.5 cups of water, sugar and maple syrup to a boil. Turn the heat down to medium, add the soy milk and stir. Once the mixture is almost back to a boil, turn off the heat. Add the coconut milk and stir. Do NOT boil the coconut milk — if you do it’ll get all oily and nasty. Remove the pot from the burner, stir in the diced coconut and stick the whole thing in the fridge. Note: this is fine if you’re using coconut and/or coconut gel. If you’re using fresh fruit, don’t mix it in, because it’ll get soggy and, you guessed it, nasty.
Bring the 4 cups of water to a boil and add the tapioca pearls. Stir constantly for 2 minutes — no more if you’re using the bitty pearls! The pearls will turn translucent when they’re ready. Drain the pearls in a fine sieve, then run cold water over them to stop them from cooking. Set the pearls aside.
If you’ve done all of this right, you’ll have ended up with 3 bowls: 1 filled with a sweet coconut soup/sauce (depending on whether you used light or regular products) with or without coconut chunks, 1 filled with cooked tapioca, and 1 filled with fresh fruit.
When you’re ready to serve up your marvelous dessert, ladle the coconut soup/sauce into each bowl, add a spoonful or two of tapioca and top with fruit. Then let everyone laugh at how much the dessert you slaved over looks like frog eggs, fish eggs, or snot (if you used green tapioca). Feel free to threaten them with the removal of their dessert if they keep it up. Once they taste it, they’ll understand the risk they ran, and they’ll be asking for seconds.
I’d also suggest just making the coconut soup/sauce by itself to drizzle over fresh fruit. It’s so tasty on its own!