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lpinkmountain

Is there a trick to tapioca pudding?

lpinkmountain
12 years ago

I want to make BF some tapioca pudding, one of his favorites. Last time I made it, I used the recipe on the back of the box. It never got thick. I even added an egg to it, and more tapioca, but it never set up. I want to try again but I'm paranoid I won't find a good recipe or technique.

Here's the one I used:

Classic Tapioca Pudding (off a box of organic tapioca)

2 cups water

3 TBLSP tapioca pearls

2 TBLSP sugar

pinch salt

2/3 cups dry milk (I think I just used milk instead of water, and for me milk means 2%)

1/3 cup shredded coconut

In saucepan bring the water to boil. Us a whisk or fork to add the tapioca pearls, thus preventing them from sticking together. Let the tapioca cook for about 17 min. until the pearls have lost about half their opaqueness. The mixture will have slightly thickened and the liquid will be cloudy. In a separate bowl, mix the sugar, salt and milk powder together. Add to tapioca mixture. Stir and cook for about 10 more minutes. Stir in coconut if using. Refrigerate until cooled.

In my case I think I just cooked the tapioca in the milk. I didn't boil it so it did not separate.

Comments (35)

  • grainlady_ks
    12 years ago

    I'm confused, did you use 2 cups of water PLUS 2/3 c. of 2% milk (in place of the dry milk powder)? If so, you have too much liquid. Or did you use 2 cups of milk and no water? -Grainlady

  • lpinkmountain
    Original Author
    12 years ago

    Instead of using water and powderd milk, I just used 2% milk in place of the water, did not add the milk powder, and cooked the milk with the tapioca, on low. It stayed soupy, never became a pudding. Even after I added a tempered egg to it.

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  • rob333 (zone 7b)
    12 years ago

    Yes, you have to eat before anyone else gets there!
    :)

    The best trick I have learned is, let the pearl soak for a few minutes, like 15, before cooking them. I usually soak them in the milk, but then, I've never used organic.

    Hm. I think I'd do it rather backwards. I'd probably mix up the milk with half of that water, let the pearls soak in it, and then heat it up. Adding sugar and salt, and then thin it a bit with the remaining water if it needed it. While I do realize eggs aren't vegan, eggs are certainly an integral part of the tapioca I like. Wonder if adding "one egg" (is there a substitute) would help it?

    Just my thoughts. I am expert tapioca eater if that counts!

  • Lars
    12 years ago

    Try another recipe that does not require powdered milk. I believe that the tapioca has to soak in plain water instead of milk. Alton Brown's recipe uses water, milk, and cream, but the milk and cream are not added until the tapioca has been soaked.

    Lars

  • rob333 (zone 7b)
    12 years ago

    Wonder why adding an egg didn't help it?

    Sorry! Got that wrong.

  • lindac
    12 years ago

    I haven't made tapioca pudding in lots of years.....can't even remember what recipe I used...but.
    As I recall I cooked the tapioca in water until it was nearly cooked through, then mixed up milk sugar and egg....or more than one egg, added that to the cooked tapioca, and continued cooking until the custard coated the back of the spoon...added vanilla and served.

    Several years back I had dinner at an amish home and there was a bowl of a tapioca "stuff' on the table. I asked for the recipe, scribbled it on something....likely a reciept in my purse.....wonder if I saved that? It included a package of something very artificial....either jello or Koolade...but was surprisingly good.
    Linda C

  • ruthanna_gw
    12 years ago

    I now use the quick-cooking tapioca for pudding but back when I used to use the pearl type, I'd soak it for a few hours in cold water; then drain and cook with milk and sugar in the top of a double boiler of simmering water for about 45 minutes, if I recall. Then I'd add a tempered egg and cook about another 5 min. and stir in some vanilla.

    I don't remember the proportions of the ingredients, just the technique.

  • rob333 (zone 7b)
    12 years ago

    Good point ruthanna. My suggestion to soak was for the "instant" type. At least it sounded like it was instant. Although the box doesn't say to do that, it seems to help.

    :)

  • centralcacyclist
    12 years ago

    I would have cheated and added a slurry of cornstarch. :)

  • dcarch7 d c f l a s h 7 @ y a h o o . c o m
    12 years ago

    Tapioca comes in many shapes. Smaller than a grain of rice, or as big as 1/4" balls. Cooking time will be different.

    You can get tapioca flour in an Asian store to thicken, or you can use a stick blender to make part of the tapioca into a paste.

    dcarch

  • vieja_gw
    11 years ago

    My Mom used to make the best big pearl tapioca pudding (had to soak the pearls in water over night) but I can't find the same kind of tapioca now. What I do find gets mushy & doesn't retain the pearl shape as her's did in the final pudding. I also have trouble adding the egg mixture to the hot pudding .... sometimes (I add it very slow) it turns out great but others it curdles! I loved her pudding with the rather 'chewy' pearls!

  • ci_lantro
    11 years ago

    Vieja, try looking for the large pearl tapioca in Asian food stores. I bought small pearl there and I'm just sure they had the lgr. variety also. (I'd never seen the lg pearl before.)

    Anyway, all this discussion about tapioca pudding made me hungry for some. I had a bag of small pearl that I had bought the last time I got hungry for it but never got around to making it. (All that I'd used before was the Minute Tapioca.) Didn't realize there was a trick to it until this thread.

    So, I tried a recipe for 'Slow cooker Tapioca Pudding' from Allrecipes. You cook it in the crock pot but do have to attend to it, just not constantly. Was very easy to make; I doubled the recipe and it cooked in two hours on high in my ancient Rival crock pot.

    Ingredients
    4 cups milk
    2/3 cup white sugar
    1/2 cup small pearl tapioca
    2 eggs, lightly beaten

    Directions
    Stir together the milk, sugar, tapioca, and eggs in a slow cooker. Cover, and cook on Medium for 3 hours, or on Low for 6 hours, stirring occasionally. Serve warm.

    **For a DOUBLE batch, I used one can of evaporated milk and addt'l skim milk to equal 8 cups of milk. Used about 3/4 c. sugar and a pinch of salt. I felt that the pudding needed to be a bit sweeter. Added 2 T. vanilla after the pudding was finished cooking.

    Results were good but it lacked something. No doubt would have benefited from using whole milk and/ or some half 'n half. We only keep skim milk in the house & I didn't want to make a special trip. One of these days, I'll get around to ordering that Fiori' di stuff from King Arthur...something like that just mighta' been the ticket to amping up the flavor. Anyway, DH loves tapioca & he was a happy camper w/ the pudding as it turned out.

    Linking to the recipe so you can access all the reviews for tweaking the recipe.

    Here is a link that might be useful: Slow Cooker Tapioca Pudding

  • ci_lantro
    11 years ago

    I made the crock pot tapioca pudding again last night. Double batch. This time, I used 1 quart of half n' half and 1 quart of skim milk. Increased the sugar to 1 cup. (Forgot to add the pinch of salt.) 2 T. of vanilla added when the pudding was finished cooking.

    Oh YUM! Darned near perfect pudding (really needs that pinch of salt.) The half n' half really punched up the mouth feel & flavor.

    Next time, I'm going to try the recipe made with all whole milk.

    This is a really easy way to make tapioca. Only needs occasional stirring...more towards the end of the 2 1/2 hours req'd with my crock pot. (Every 15 minutes or so during the last hour.)

  • lpinkmountain
    Original Author
    11 years ago

    Thanks for the report, Ci! I have a pint of half and half in my fridge waiting for me to have the right time to try the crockpot version.

  • ci_lantro
    11 years ago

    Do let me know how it turns out, lpink.

    Oh, and I think I overcooked it a bit this last time. I was thinking it needed 2.5 hrs and stopped at about 2 hr 20 min. After the pudding cooled, it seemed overcooked. Now I see, after reading my initial post, that I cooked it 2 hours the first time. That splains things. (This was in an old, old Rival crockpot on the 'High' setting, starting with refrigerator temp ingred.)

  • Shuckapeafarms
    11 years ago

    Ok, first of all, I'm a professional pastry chef so I will clue you in on a few items.
    Don't use small pearl tapioca in place of large as the recipe has been configured based on the large....there's a starch factor that we don't change!! Pastry is not culinary cooking........you DON'T alter the recipe as all of the ingredients have a relationship in weight to one another that doesn't matter in culinary arena!!
    Secondly, you should always soak your tapioca pearls, preferably overnight.
    When we add eggs to any hot mixture it will curdle if not done properly!! It's called TEMPERING THE EGGS......you must add a little of the hot mixture very slowly while whisking to temper the eggs (bringing them up to temperature) and insure they won't curdle...then add the tempered mixture to the rest of the pudding and continue cooking until completed.
    STOP substituting fat free, 1%, 2% and all that other liquid referred to as some form of milk.....the FAT in whole milk, half and half, and heavy cream is required to achieve the results we're looking for!! If you have medical reasons you can't use milk with the fat, this isn't the recipe you should be making!!
    There's a lot of technique involved to get that "perfect" tapioca pudding just like rice pudding and others.........doubtful you'll achieve those results without professional training and knowing the various techniques.
    You can also get better results using professional recipes from websites like food.com or some of the pastry chef sites.......stay away from "grandma's famous recipe" as it probably has been passed through so many hands the recipe isn't even the recipe anymore!!! Last buit not least, don't make changes to pastry type recipes......I don't care what mom or grandma says, it's a fact that doesn't work outside of the culinary arena as the recipes are based on weight to the main ingredient, usually the flour!!!
    Hope this helps to clarify a few issues however, we don't give away our secrets and signature dishes.......just the way it is in the chef world!!

  • triciae
    11 years ago

    Thanks, Coconut! :)

    /t

  • momj47
    11 years ago

    I'm wondering why a recipe for organic tapioca pudding uses dry milk, and was it non-fat dry milk, which is generally the only kind you can find, or dry milk with fat? I know there is "regular" dry milk, but I've only seen it once, many years ago in the Spanish food section of a grocery store.

    When I've made tapioca pudding, which no one else in my family ever eats, I use the Kraft Minute tapioca and their recipe

    1 egg, separated
    6Tbsp. sugar, divided
    3Tbsp. MINUTE Tapioca
    2cups 2% reduced fat milk
    1tsp. vanilla

    BEAT egg white in small bowl with electric mixer on high speed until foamy. Gradually add 3 Tbsp. sugar, beating until soft peaks form.

    MIX tapioca, remaining sugar, milk and egg yolk in medium saucepan. Let stand 5 minutes.

    COOK on medium heat, stirring constantly, until mixture comes to full boil. Remove from heat. Quickly stir egg white mixture into hot tapioca in saucepan until well blended. Stir in vanilla. Cool 20 minutes; stir. Serve warm or chilled. For creamier pudding, place plastic wrap on surface of pudding while cooling. Stir before serving. Store leftover pudding in refrigerator.

  • dcarch7 d c f l a s h 7 @ y a h o o . c o m
    11 years ago

    This thread made me realize that I have not made tapioca for a while.

    We all have different preferences for tapioca consistence.

    I like mine thinner, and the pearls more like pearls.

    The way to make the pearls stay in shape is simple. Before I cook, I pour boiling water over the tapioca and soak overnight in the refrigerator.

    When I serve guests, I make them thicker. Two ways I make the pudding thicker:

    1. Take some pearls and blend with a hand blender and mix with the pearls.
    2. Add some packaged pudding mix.

    I made mango tapioca pudding last night.

    dcarch






  • triciae
    11 years ago

    momj47,

    I use Organic Valley non-fat dry milk almost exclusively. It works beautifully in puddings.

    /tricia

  • lindac
    11 years ago

    So I can't possibly make tapioca pudding unless I am a "professional chef"...hmmm...
    Ya think?? Really!? Your information about tempering eggs...WOW!! REALLY! You don't think that anyone who has ever made any sort of custard or veloute don't know how to temper egg yolks before mixing with the hot liquid?
    Perhaps you best pay attention to the burgers and onions cooking on the flattop, and stop insulting people by suggesting that what you do with the tapioca is rocket science!

  • wisteria424
    11 years ago

    After recently rediscovering the joys of tapioca pudding (after finally finding that Bob's Red Mill now sells it) I can offer a few tips:

    First, I live on a mountain and "high altitude" directions don't always work so I have to invent my own. I've found that nearly any batch of runny tapioca can be saved by letting it cool for about 30 minutes, returning it to the stove and achieving an enthusiastic boil (stirring constantly) for 3-5 minutes. That gives the pearls a second chance to plump up and absorb their full moisture capacity (which is why it was runny in the first place). You end up with the signature big, fat, gelatinous balls of tapioca and thick creamy pudding.

    Second, if you can't master the egg tempering (or tend to end up with too much of an "eggy" taste for your liking) try this nearly foolproof eggless vegan recipe.

    http://www.vegalicious.org/2011/01/19/vegan-tapioca-pudding/

    I don't like soy milk so I use coconut milk (the kind in the dairy case, not the thick sweetened stuff in a can). The only thing that can go wrong is to overcook it and end up with a firmer, more Jello-like consistency when it cools. But then you can just call it tapioca haupia and move on :)

  • chemicalanarchy
    10 years ago

    There are HUGE mistakes even on the label of tapioca pearl boxes.

    DO NOT use a double boiler as it does not make it hot enough to evaporate/reduce the moisture from the milk.

    Soak pearls overnight in water.

    Add the required milk and cook hot enough to not scorch the milk. Cook pearls to the 'doneness' you want just like you'd do with pasta.

    Now use a measuring cup and REMOVE 1-2 cups of the LIQUID in the pot leaving the pearls behind. Set aside the liquid in a pot for reduction.

    Mix the egg yoke and sugar and add to the pearls' pot with tempering. Cook to the thickness you desire and with the lessor volume of milk your cooking time will be drastically reduced. Let cool.

    At the same time REDUCE the liquid you removed until it is thick as pudding. Let cool.

    Add everything back together and it is SET!

    (You can add whipped egg whites if you want, but I've found it adds nothing to taste or texture and is just a time waster.)

  • kitchendetective
    10 years ago

    I just use the Reese tapioca pearls and the recipe on the package. To me, whipping the whites and folding them back into the mix lightens the texture and dilutes the intensity of the flavor, neither of which effect do I find desirable. However, DH prefers it that way because it's just like his great aunt's tapioca was in his childhood. So I tend to alternate. (Like I really need the calories of tapioca, LOL.) The Reese's purports to be large pearl, but it looks like other small pearls I've used in the past. If anyone knows of a good source for authentic large pearl, do let me know. I have used a pot on a gas stove, a pot on an induction burner, and a double boiler on an induction burner. All have required stirring, and all have yielded good results. The exception was my experiment with an induction hob and not stirring, which yielded a result with the pearls at the bottom. No one objected to eating the result, however.

  • dcarch7 d c f l a s h 7 @ y a h o o . c o m
    10 years ago

    "----=If anyone knows of a good source for authentic large pearl, do let me know. ----"

    Asian stores sell tapioca pearls of all sizes.

    dcarch

  • kitchendetective
    10 years ago

    Will have to alter my beaten path when I go to Austin. There are no Asian markets in my usual stomping grounds, and I hate traffic, but there are so many things I want to pick up, I am going to have to set aside an afternoon soon. Thanks for the idea.

    The newest Whole Foods is 17,000 square feet smaller than the flagship, but more convenient to one of my paths, so I will check with them as well. It is already too crowded and short on parking.

  • engineer54
    9 years ago

    To get tapioca pudding to set, it is ESSENTIAL to stir it. Gelling is caused by the release of microscopic starch particles from the tapioca pearls or granules.

    I've demonstrated this principle for myself many times while cooking oatmeal porridge. If the porridge is put in a double boiler and simmered, I can come back over half an hour later and find it still semi-liquid. If I stir it in the double boiler or in a pot directly on the heat source, it thickens in 5-8 minutes. I've also experimented using a high-speed Krups coffee grinder to mill rolled oats into a fine flour, adding just one teaspoon of such flour to a pot of porridge and having it thicken in just a couple of minutes. Similarly, it should be possible to grind a bit of tapioca into a flour, adding it to the failed pot of pudding, reheating to boiling temperature while stirring continuously and allowing it to cool again. I do know from experience that adding a teaspoon of "instant" tapioca and reheating while stirring does work to rescue the pudding. If you have neither a coffee grinder, nor tapioca flour, consider cheating with a bit of corn starch.

  • docmommich
    3 months ago

    Why does tapioca fail to set? I've been making tapioca pudding with large pearls for nearly twenty years. I've used the same process every time, and most times it thickens, but occassionally it just doesn't. I soak my pearls over night. I use a double boiler. I use a combination of whole milk and half and half. I use excessive numbers of egg yolks, and whip the whites for addition at the end. I stir continuously after the tempering and additon of the egg yolks.


    I've read (somewhere) that the tapioca loses it's thickening ability if left on the shelf too long. Just this weekend, I made two batches of tapioca, with two different packages of pearls, that were purchased from different sources, the day before use. Both were soupy failures. I've made literally hundreds of delicious batches of thick, scrumptious tapioca in my life, but sometimes it just fails. I suspect (though have no proof) that it is the quality of the pearls purchased from the retailer. It's also possible that using an electric burner, vs gas, could have an effect. But, with a double boiler, that shouldn't really make a difference. Anyway, it's really frustrating, when you want to provide a special treat to your family, and it fails. Twice. Arghhh!


    Martha

  • ci_lantro
    3 months ago
    last modified: 3 months ago

    I use a vintage crockpot to make tapioca. Small pearls from Asian food store (about half the price of name brand mainstream grocery stores.) Always whole milk (makes a much better pudding than low fat milks.) Don't separate the eggs.

    No soaking; minimal stirring. Always sets.

    Guessing that if tapicoa isn't setting using a double boiler is that the mixture isn't getting hot enough. Or hot enough for long enough. Haven't made tapioca for a while but it does take a good while using the crockpot...will pay more attn to how long it takes the next time I make it but thinking it requires 2+ hours/ under 3 hours to cook. Start on high then switch to low.

    Martha, what is the elevation where you live? FWIW, my elevation is just under 1100'.

  • docmommich
    3 months ago

    Ci_lantro,

    Thanks for your response. I have no idea what my elevation is. I was in Dayton, OH making my last two attempts. My frustration comes from the fact that I have been making tapioca pudding for almost two decades, and I have become known for my delicious, thick, creamy tapioca. So, when I follow the procedure (that I could repeat in my sleep) and it just doesn't work, I just want to strangle someone (probably myself). It could be that the pudding wasn't hot enough, though the double boiler was boiling, so I doubt it. It definitely wasn't that it wasn't cooked long enough, since I stirred constantly for well over 90 minutes, after adding the tempered egg mixture, hoping it would thicken, eventually. Hence my frustration. I just don't know what to do next time to avoid another completely inexplainable failure. I do think I will purchase my pearls froman Asian grocery, rather than count on Amazon or the local grocery. The crock pot method is intriguing, so I might have to dig my crockpot out of storage. Wish me luck for next time.


    Martha

  • colleenoz
    3 months ago

    I haven’t ever made tapioca pudding, but a similar, popular dessert here is lemon (flavoured) sago, which is served chilled with chilled creme Anglaise. Really nice in the summer (which it is here in Oz).

  • ci_lantro
    3 months ago

    Oh, do try the crockpot method, Martha. Only needs an occasional stir. I have only used small pearl tapioca (what I grew up eating) which doesn't need to be presoaked.

    We can eliminate elevation being a factor for certain. Dayton is a lower elevation than where I live.

    FWIW, the higher the elevation, the lower the boiling point. 212 degrees is the boiling point at sea level. The boiling point in Denver is around 203 degrees. Learned this first hand when we lived in the Sierras where the boiling point was 198 degrees. You don't even think about cooking dried beans without presoaking at higher elevations.

    Anyway, switching your source for the pearls seems like the only thing left to try. But you already had pearls from two different sources that failed--a mystery for sure.

    Or maybe something varies here? I soak my pearls over night. Do you soak in water or milk? At room temperature or overnight in the refrigerator? Is your soak method, temperature, timing always the same?


  • docmommich
    3 months ago

    My soaking method is always the same. I soak the pearls in a bowl covered with 1-2 inches of what starts as hot tap water on the counter over night. It generally ends up being at least 12 hours. There is always water still covering the pearls when I drain them.


    Martha

  • Olychick
    2 months ago

    I wonder if tapioca is much less popular than in the past and the pearls are sitting on the store shelves longer. Even if freshly purchased, maybe they are old? Do they have a best by date on the package.