Homemade Tapioca Pudding

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Homemade Tapioca Pudding

When my friend Ruby tossed me the plastic baggie filled with pearl tapioca from the bulk bin at WinCo and asked me if I knew how to use it, I immediately knew that my next blog post would be about homemade tapioca pudding.

You might have noticed that I haven’t been writing much lately and the truth is that I still don’t feel much like cooking or writing. But today is a good day to talk about tapioca pudding because today is my Uncle Jim’s birthday and he loved tapioca pudding.

We lost my uncle a month ago, suddenly and unexpectedly, to complications due to a cancer we hadn’t known about long enough to even accept that it had arrived.

When I found out about my uncle, I was in transition between San Diego and Fresno. I have been in the middle of a huge move, a huge life change. I am going through a divorce and have moved back to Fresno alone.

I’m starting over. I’m terrified and excited and sad. But no matter what I’m going through or how I ended up in Fresno when I did, I’m glad to be here with my family during this tough time. I need them and they need me. We’re all still reeling.

Homemade Tapioca Pudding

So here I am, in the place where I grew up, in the place I never imagined I’d return to, unpacking boxes, sorting through emotions, trying to find my way home. And I just haven’t felt much like writing about food. And there hasn’t been much need for cooking as we’ve all been well-supplied with food in the past weeks thanks to generous friends and family.

But when I stopped by Ruby’s house on the way back from my last trip to San Diego and she pulled out that bag of tapioca, I knew that I would be making homemade tapioca pudding this week.

I need comfort. I need to cook. I need this place to feel like home. And as I said, it’s my uncle Jim’s birthday. I don’t know how to play golf or ride a motorcycle , but I can certainly make tapioca pudding from scratch.

This version of homemade tapioca pudding is based on a recipe I found in . I made some changes, including using vanilla bean instead of extract and adding finely grated lemon zest. The flavors are perfect together.

As you’ll see from the ingredients list, this is a rich and decadent tapioca pudding. It’s well worth the 25 minutes you’ll stand in front of the stove stirring. Trust me.

Homemade Tapioca Pudding

For this pudding you need to use , not instant tapioca.

When making tapioca pudding, it is important to stir constantly and cook at a low temperature to avoid scorching. Using a thick-bottomed heavy pot is also helpful, but as long as you keep the heat low enough and keep the mixture moving, the pudding should turn out fine.

Homemade Vanilla Lemon Tapioca Pudding

scant 1/2 cup small pearl tapioca

2 large egg yolks, slightly beaten

Homemade Tapioca Pudding

1/2 cup well-chilled heavy cream

Soak tapioca in 1 cup of water for 30 minutes, then drain and set aside.

In a medium-sized heavy saucepan, whisk together milk, egg yolks, sugar and salt. Cut vanilla bean in half lengthwise and, using the tip of a small knife, scrape seeds from the middle of the bean into the pot. Whisk vanilla bean seeds into the mixture then add the bean pod halves. Add tapioca then bring the mixture to a simmer over medium heat, stirring slowly but constantly with a wooden spoon. The pudding will start to thicken immediately - this is fine. Turn heat to low and continue to simmer, stirring slowly and constantly, for another 20 to 30 minutes or until the tapioca is completely translucent - the time will vary depending on the size of your tapioca.

Remove pudding from heat and stir in lemon zest . Cover and let cool to lukewarm. In a separate bowl, beat cream with an electric mixer until it holds soft peaks. Stir cooled tapioca, then gently fold in the whipped cream until thoroughly combined. Scrape pudding into a serving bowl and serve immediately or cover with plastic wrap and chill until ready to serve.

When I say to use "scant" half cups of tapioca and sugar, that means slightly less than full. As stated in the recipe, vanilla extract can be substituted for the vanilla bean—I've tried it both ways, and both are delicious. Make sure the lemon zest is finely grated so the texture isn't too noticeable in the pudding—a microplane grater works great for this. The lemon zest may also be left out completely for a more traditional tapioca.

Homemade Tapioca Pudding

Although this version of tapioca pudding feels very grown-up with the vanilla bean and lemon zest, it will please kids and adults alike—just ask Ruby’s daughters, Emma and Abby!

Sorry to read about what you're going through at the moment - take whatever time you need away from the blog, we'll still be here reading, regardless :) We have a traditional Southeast Asian dessert that features these pearls in a coconut milk broth with cubes of yam and sweet potato, it's really comforting as I'm sure yours was!

I love pudding, but I don't think I've ever had tapioca! Shameful.

By far the best tapioca pudding I've had in my life! Thanks Nicole, glad you knew what to do with it.

I should give that a try, it sounds like scary school dinners but to be fair, I dont think I've ever even tried it, so maybe its about time I did.I'm so sorry about your uncle and I'm sorry to hear you're feeling a bit lost. I hope you find what you're looking for in Fresno. I really loved it up in the sequoias up there, maybe that will give you a bit of peace to pop up there and check out the big trees?

Homemade Tapioca Pudding

I love your tapioca pudding. I'll see if I can it tapioca pearls here. I'm sorry to hear that you are going through a tough period of your life but I'm glad you are with your family. Take your time to settle down and feel you again and get back on your feet. We'll still be here to support you and cheer you on. Take care.

I can't make you comfort-food tapioca pudding but I "can" send a virtual hug ... as I do. Be well ...

Touching blog post...i like how you connected it with your awesome Uncle Jim and your new life journey.

This looks creamy and delicious. Your girls are so adorable!

I have made many versions of tapioca over the last two years especially, because I love it so much, including Indian, vegan, large and small pearls...but I will have to try yours, because the lemon and the whipped cream at the end are things I haven't tried yet. Thanks for sharing.

Homemade Tapioca Pudding

I can't wait to try the pudding, looks very good. Thank you for an awesome post about an awesome man. He loved you so much. I miss him, but I love that we still have things like Tapioca that can make us feel a little closer to him.I am SO happy that you came home.

Hi Nicole: I'm so sorry for all these losses you're going through. This was a sweet tribute and all of us get a wonderful recipe as a bonus. I hope you're doing okay. I sure missing my neighbor!

I adore tapioca! We had it regularly when I was growing up. One time when my mother was not feeling well, I made it for the family. Turned our like rubber. My dad and siblings thought it was funny. I didn't; there was no tapioca for me to eat!

I am so sorry for your loss. What a wonderful way to honor your Uncle Jim, posting a fabulous tapioca pudding recipe. Sometimes I think there should be a funeral food cookbook. The book should be divided into regions of the country - southern funeral food, rocky mountain funeral food etc. I will be thinking of you and your family during this difficult time.

I'm sorry things have been rough, babe. I know you will get through this and be stronger than ever afterward. And in the meantime, you'll have your family and this scrumptious pudding to get you through!

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