Tapioca pudding is so often looked down on I think. Not sure why. Many think of it as that goopy thing that comes out of a box and old people eat it in nursing homes. When made right though using tapioca pearls, dairy and sugar it is delightful. It has great snappy texture and just the right amount of creamy firmness. Made with coconut milk and whole dairy milk is awesome.
The recipe for the pudding is directly adapted from The Last Course by Claudia Fleming. Fleming calls it coconut tapioca soup and uses both tiny small pearl tapioca and the larger “normal” tapioca. I still think of it as a pudding and only use the normal sized tapioca because I had none of the smaller stuff. To make it I mixed sugar and whole milk and brought them to a simmer. Then the tapioca goes in and cooks. As this happens, the pearls soften and the starch in them (they are made from the cassava root) thickens the pudding. All the way at the end coconut milk goes in and cooks for a few more minutes.
This is nice warm but I like it better well chilled. A delicious Vietnamese dessert is made with this pudding too. It uses only coconut milk though and incorporates chunks of ripe banana into the pudding. So, tropical flavor is where I went to complete this and make it a composed simple dessert.
I made a mango sorbet. This is really easy to make with frozen mango puree. I’ve made stuff like that many times. It starts with a simple sugar syrup, a touch of sorbet stabilizer and then blended with the fruit puree. I think mint goes great with mango, something I picked up when I made some Indian-style kulfi mango pops a while back. So this time around I blended a few leaves of mint with the mixture as well. After a long rest in the fridge it gets churned in the ice cream maker.
This needs texture. Pudding is soft, creamy and a little chewy. The sorbet is…well sorbet. So, I made a super crunchy nutty brittle to bring in the texture. I toasted slivered almonds. In a small pan I heated about 100 gr of sugar to very dark caramel. As soon as small wisps of smoke start coming from the caramel, I add in the nuts, some sesame seeds, a good pinch of salt, stir carefully with a silicon spatula and pour the whole thing on a Silpat. When it hardens it is easy to break into pieces and shards. A generous puddle of tapioca goes in a bowl, topped with a scoop of sorbet then a garnish of nut brittle.