I have never quite replicated my mother’s perfectly airy, yet creamy tapioca pudding. Like clockwork every year, my dad would request the chewy pearls for his birthday dessert. While I always tried to create a perfect ending to his special day, the result was tasty, albeit imperfect. I always whipped the egg whites just a tad too long. But, whoever made it, made it with love, and he knew it.
Anyone can master this vegan, sugar and dairy-free version of the traditional tapioca pudding recipe. I created this recipe while in need of a treat during a month-long cleanse. It has the richness and texture of the original recipe, but uses coconut milk and almond milk as the base and Stevia as the sweetener. If you prefer not to use Stevia, you can substitute it with 1/4 to 1/3rd cup of unrefined sugar. Using the ground tapioca pearls or tapioca starch is also optional. The same thickness can be achieved with longer cooking. Be conservative with your sweetener. The coconut milk, especially when condensed through cooking, provides ample sweetness. So, if the flavors do not seem to come together at the end, consider adding a pinch of sea salt for balancing flavors, rather than extra sweetener. I am partial to the large pearl tapioca and its toothy texture. But, the small pearl variety will work just as well. Just don’t use “Minute” tapioca. The horror. This recipe requires a bit of stirring and some advance planning, but it is well worth it!
Coconut-Almond Tapioca Pudding
Serves 4. Inspired by Ashley Adams, About.com Vegan Tapioca Pudding
- 2 cups almond milk, divided into two parts
- 1/3 cup large or small pearl tapioca
- 3 tablespoons ground pearls or tapioca starch flour (optional)
- 1 cup organic coconut milk
- 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
- Stevia to taste (or up to 1/3 cup unrefined sugar)
- 1/2 teaspoon almond extract (or vanilla extract)
- Blend the 3 tablespoons of tapioca pearls in a spice grinder or blender until it is a powder consistency (or use tapioca starch/flour).
- In a medium-sized bowl, combine 1 cup of the almond milk, tapioca pearls and ground tapioca (or tapioca flour) and let the mixture soak for 2 hours refrigerated. If you are using large pearl tapioca, it can soak overnight.
- Place the remaining almond milk, coconut milk, and salt in a 2-quart sauce pan. Add the soaked tapioca and almond milk mixture, whisking or stirring until combined.
- Stirring constantly, bring the mixture to a boil over medium heat (about 12-15 minutes of cooking).
- Turn down the heat. Continuing to stir often, let the mixture simmer for another 15 to 20 minutes.
- Turn the heat back up to medium, add the almond extract and Stevia and cook, stirring constantly until the mixture thickens and coats the back of a spoon, about 15 more minutes. Adjust sweetener, extract and salt to taste. The pudding will thicken further as it cools.
- Serve warm or cooled. If refrigerating before serving, let cool and place a piece of parchment paper directly on the surface of the pudding to prevent a skin formation.
Note: For some reason, large pearl tapioca was difficult to find in Manhattan. I eventually found about five different kinds at Kalyustan’s in mid-town. If you like bubble-tea, the effort to get the large pearl variety is worth it!