Friday, February 13, 2009

comfort food

Every now and again there's nothing like a pudding for comfort food.  Creamy and sweet, it hits the spot.  The other day I was in the mood for comfort food and decided that tapioca was the order of the day.  Honestly it's not the quickest comfort food to prepare, but it tastes so good that it's worth the time it takes to make it.

I tend to have tapioca on hand not only for making pudding but so that I can grind it up into a flour when I am experimenting with gluten free mixes.

Tapioca comes from the cassava root and in other parts of the world is referred to as yuca or manioc.  Although native to South America it has spread around the world and is the third largest source of carbohydrates for human consumption.  There are several different types of cassava root and many of them are poisonous if eaten directly (and like rhubarb, the leaves are completely inedible to humans) but with processing it becomes safe to eat.

Many cultures around the world eat cassava root in various forms, as grated root cakes, using the flour to make thin flat breads, as a stew, to thicken soups,  and more.  In this country it is most commonly used to make tapioca pudding.  To prepare the root for making tapioca it is shredded, soaked and exposed to heat.  As it dries it forms pellets that are referred to as pearls.  The larger pearls are often used in tea drinks such as bubble tea while the smaller pearls are used for making pudding or ground into flour.  Cassava root is very high in calcium, phosphorus and vitamin C but has very little protein.

In rummaging around my kitchen to make pudding I realized that I had very little milk on hand.  As they say, necessity is the mother of invention.  I was in the mood for pudding, didn't want to go to the store and certainly didn't have enough milk.  Having coconut milk in the pantry I decided to try it as a substitute.  I'm so glad I did because I've come up with a new favorite way to enjoy tapioca pudding.  Try it, I think you'll enjoy it too.

Coconut Tapioca Pudding

1/2 C. tapioca pearls
1 C. water
2 C. coconut milk
2 egg yolks, beaten
1/2 C. evaporated cane juice crystals
pinch of salt
1 t. vanilla
1/2 C. grated coconut, toasted

note:  coconut milk is sold in 15 oz cans.  If you like you can use 15 oz coconut milk and 1 oz of another milk to make the two cups.  It occurs to me that almond milk might be a nice addition

place tapioca pearls in water and let soak for 4 hours
In a pan gently heat grated coconut, stirring frequently, until light brown
drain tapioca
place in a sauce pan with coconut milk, egg yolks, cane juice crystals, and salt
heat over medium high heat stirring constantly until mixture begins to thicken
reduce to low heat
continue to  stir until pearls are translucent and pudding is thick, about 20 minutes
remove from heat and let cool 15 minutes
add vanilla and let pudding cool completely

To serve spoon pudding into a bowl and sprinkle with toasted coconut

photo courtesy of

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