My blog name is a direct indication of the way most of my recipes are created. This Vanilla Bean Tapioca Pudding is no exception. At some point I bought a large bag of tapioca pearls on a whim, I couldn’t tell you why, and they have been living untouched in my pantry ever since. The other day I saw red currants (fresh red currants!) at my local grocery store. This never happens. They are such a coveted item in the food photography world because they are just too beautiful to believe! I would love to get my hands on some white ones, but I’m so happy I found these! Anyway, I wanted to create a recipe that I could adorn with these little jewels, something light, white, neutral in color that wouldn’t compete with the beautiful fruits but that their tartness would accentuate and compliment. My thoughts quickly turned to puddings. Well, the light bulb went off and the rest is history. My impulsively acquired tapioca pearls and red currants were happily united in this delicious recipe!
Have you ever had tapioca pudding?
It’s not something I’ve had often, but it is so delicious and wonderfully old-fashioned. The large tapioca pearls require an overnight soak (8-12 hours), and a little hand’s on cooking time, but nothing about the tapioca pudding process is difficult. Make this in the morning while you’re sipping a cup of coffee or in the evening with a glass of wine. Enjoy the process. Some recipes have an egg custard base, which I must admit I do love, but I wanted to make this egg-free and vegan friendly. I also just wanted to streamline the process.
Choose your milk
This tapioca pudding recipe is incredibly versatile. Use cow’s milk – I recommend whole milk – or any alternative milk you love. I love the taste of coconut milk in this. It reminds me of a coconut jasmine rice pudding I once made (I need to blog that one). Coconut milk might just be my favorite for this recipe.
Sweeten your tapioca pudding
I love honey in this recipe and I imagine maple syrup would work equally as well. Coconut sugar would work well here too, but might give a darker color. Of course white granulated or brown sugar work great too. I have not tried alternative sweeteners like monk fruit or stevia, but if you have experience cooking with them, give it a try here and let me know how it goes!
Spice it up!
Have fun with the flavorings in your tapioca pudding. I will always love anything with vanilla bean involved, but feel free to add on to the vanilla flavor with cinnamon, cardamom, pumpkin or apple pie spice, lemon, lime, or orange zest. Use your favorite extract or even a drop of a food-grade essential oil like lemon or lavender (go easy here, they are very strong!). Speaking of lavender, a sprinkle of dried lavender would be really nice with the vanilla. You can even infuse the milk with your favorite tea such as chai or earl grey. And finally, a splash of bourbon might be nice if that’s your thing. Bottom line: Have fun and let your imagination run wild.
I hope you’ll give this recipe a try! Let me know if you do; I love, love when you guys make my recipes!!
Happy cooking! xo – Anita
This is the old-fashioned dessert of your dreams. Or maybe the old-fashioned dessert you never knew you needed. Creamy, a tiny bit chewy, and just sweet enough. This recipe is easily made vegan/dairy free by swapping cow’s milk for coconut, almond, or whatever alternative milk you prefer.
1 cup large pearl tapioca
3 cups milk (alternative milks work great here)
1/4 cup sugar or honey
1 whole vanilla bean
1/4 teaspoon salt
Place 1 cup of large pearl tapioca in a bowl and cover with 3 cups of cold, filtered water. Allow to soak for 8 hours.
Once tapioca has soaked, add 3 cups of milk, sugar or honey, salt, and split vanilla bean (or whatever flavoring you choose) to a medium saucepan and bring to a simmer.
Add drained tapioca to simmering milk mixture and cook, stirring occasionally and making sure to scrape the bottom of the pan for 20 minutes or until tapioca pearls become translucent and soft.
Carefully transfer to serving dishes or small jars and allow to cool to room temperature before storing, covered, in refrigerator.
Make sure you are using large pearl tapioca. I use hoosier farm brand and I know reese is a popular brand as well. This will require you to soak overnight, but it is well worth it.
Have fun with the flavorings. Instead of vanilla, or in addition to it, use cinnamon, cardamom, or any warming spice blend you love. Add a splash of your favorite extract or even a bit of bourbon. Lemon or orange zest, lavender… the sky is the limit!
Keywords: tapioca pudding, pudding, large pearl tapioca pudding, dessert, vegan, dairy free dessert, egg free dessert