Tapioca pudding has always been one of those desserts that divides opinions. It’s a bit like the marmite of the pudding world – you either relish it or you can’t bear the mere thought of it. My own palate has always danced with delight at the very taste of it, perhaps a fond nod to the homemade version I was raised on. Its creamy texture paired with the unique consistency of tapioca pearls offers a beautiful symphony of flavors and memories of simpler times.
Although its presence on modern-day dessert tables might be dwindling, I’m a staunch advocate of the homemade version over its store-bought counterpart. There’s an unparalleled richness and depth in the homemade version that pre-packaged varieties simply can’t replicate. And the best part? It’s incredibly simple to whip up a batch.
For those venturing into making this classic, start by giving the tapioca pearls a good rinse. This eliminates any starch and ensures a clean flavor profile. Soaking them in water for a short duration then primes them for cooking, ensuring they turn soft and swell up beautifully. Using a heavy saucepan or a dutch oven, heat up the milk and sugar until it reaches a gentle simmer. This forms the creamy base that’s quintessential to the pudding. Introduce the soaked pearls to this simmering mixture and watch as they gradually turn translucent, indicating they’re perfectly cooked.
There’s something profoundly comforting about diving into a bowl of this nostalgic pudding. Each spoonful is not just a taste of creamy goodness, but a cherished memory of yesteryears.
½ cup small pearl tapioca
4 cups milk, whole or 2%
¾ cup white sugar
¾ cup white sugar, additional
1 teaspoon vanilla
Rinse tapioca pearls and then pour into a small bowl and cover with water. Let soak 45-60 minutes.
Add milk and first ¾ cup of sugar to a large saucepan. Bring mixture to a simmer over medium heat. Once small bubbles form, add the tapioca pearls and reduce heat to a gentle simmer. Stir frequently and cook for 15-20 more minutes or until pearls become translucent.
As pearls cook, beat together the eggs and remaining ¾ cup sugar in a medium size bowl.
Slowly pour a stream of the hot mixture into the eggs about a ⅓ cup at a time, stirring constantly. Continue until half the hot mixture has been beaten into the eggs.
Slowly pour the contents of the egg bowl back into the saucepan, continuously stirring.
Cook for an additional 3-5 minutes or until the pudding starts to thicken (it will continue to thicken as it cools as well).
Remove from heat and stir in vanilla. Transfer to serving dishes and chill until serving.