Sunday, February 20, 2011
Comforting Tapioca Pudding
I remember eating and enjoying tapioca pudding made by my mother and grandmother during my Midwestern childhood in the 1940s. To please my grandchildren, in recent years, I started making it and have always used Kraft Minute variety, until recently when I purchased large pearl and then small pearl natural tapioca at Real Foods. When I see it, which only seems to be in that grocery, I have an urge to buy and make it. After much discussion about the source of tapioca, we found that it is a thickening agent used in milk or fruit puddings made from the root of the cassava plant which grows in the tropics.
Making tapioca is not quick and easy, but an act of love! When using large or small pearl it must be soaked for 30 minutes before cooking. No doubt that is why minute tapioca, which only needs to soak 5 minutes is more readily available for American cooks. All sizes of tapioca take about 20 minutes of constant stirring, so you have to be patient or have a good book or TV close by.
Rather than copying the recipe from a package or a cook book, I suggest that people who want to give others a comforting treat should use the recipe on the package. The instant variety has a simple/shorter version and a longer yummier version. I am including a few photos of the process and a short video on the technique of folding egg whites into the creamy hot pudding, which makes it more complicated than cooking the whole beaten egg with the sugar and milk. These photos are from the one time I made chocolate, the all-time favorite of the grandchildren. Don't worry if when adding the cocoa it looks like the above photo. As you stir it will mix in with the milk.
Make Tapioca as directed on the packaging. Here is a short video of the important step of folding the egg whites into the hot pudding. But wait, first be sure to temper the egg whites by slowly mixing some hot pudding into the beaten whites. (See, I said it is an act of love!)
Below is a photo of the finished chocolate tapioca ready to deliver to loved ones in individual bowls set on a tray that I inherited from my grandmother.