According to Ask.Yahoo, tapioca is a root starch derived from the cassava, or yucca plant. It's often used to thicken soups and sweeten the flavor of baked goods, and it makes a great pudding. The cassava plant is native to South America and the West Indies, where its thick, fibrous roots are used in a variety of forms: bread flour, laundry starch, an alcoholic brew, and of course, tapioca pudding.
From Wikipedia: The pudding can be made from scratch using tapioca in a variety of forms: flakes, coarse meal, sticks, and pearls. Many commercial packaged mixes are also available. British schoolchildren have traditionally nicknamed the dish frog spawn, due to its appearance. American children often call it fish eyes and glue.
And here's a reason not to make tapioca at home -- cassava roots have traces of cyanide in them! The ever-resourceful Mayans, the first known to use tapioca, figured out how to extract this poison for their blow darts, leaving the uncontaminated roots free for eating. Perhaps this information would be better served on my other blog, Mystery Fanfare.
So a processed tapioca should be used in the following recipes. The first recipe for Dark Chocolate Tapioca Pudding recipe is adapted from Kraft recipes and uses instant tapioca. The second recipe uses tapioca that needs to be soaked overnight. I think the flavor is much better, but really for me, it's all about the chocolate.
1. Easy Dark Chocolate Tapioca Pudding
1/4 cup sugar
3 Tbsp MINUTE Tapioca
3-1/2 cups whole milk
3 ounces dark chocolate (60-75% cacao)
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
Beat egg lightly in medium saucepan with wire whisk.
Add sugar and tapioca; mix well.
Gradually add milk, beating well after each addition.
Let stand 5 minutes. Add chocolate.
Bring to boil on medium heat, stirring constantly.
Reduce heat to medium-low; cook until chocolate is completely melted, stirring constantly.
Remove from heat.
Stir in vanilla.
Cool 20 minutes; stir. (Pudding thickens as it cools.)
Serve warm or chilled.
2. Longer to make but worth it -- Dark Chocolate Tapioca Pudding
adapted only slightly from JamHands (a great site)
1/2 cup Tapioca Pearls
2-1/2 cups whole milk
Pinch of salt
2 eggs, separated
1/2 cup sugar
1 Tbsp pure vanilla extract
4-6 ounces dark chocolate, chopped
Soak tapioca in 2 cups of room temperature water overnight. Drain water in morning.
Heat milk over medium low heat in top of double boiler (for just a very short time, do not boil). Add salt and tapioca. Continue to heat until small bubbles appear. Cover, turn heat to very low and cook for one hour. Make sure the milk mixture does not simmer or boil.
Separate egg whites from yolks.
Beat egg yolks and sugar together until light yellow in color. Add a little of hot milk mixture to egg yolks and blend thoroughly.
Add egg yolk mixture into hot milk mixture, stirring constantly.
Place double boiler over medium heat and cook until tapioca mixture is very thick, from 15 – 30 minutes.
Beat egg whites until stiff.
Slowly fold hot tapioca mixture into egg whites.
Stir in vanilla and chopped chocolate and combine thoroughly until smooth.
Serve warm or chilled.
HAPPY TAPIOCA DAY!