My father has always loved tapioca pudding; I was more of a rice pudding person throughout my youth. As an adult, though, I've joined his camp. I appreciate the lightness of tapioca, especially when I make it with the small-pearl variety. The tapioca becomes translucent as it cooks, suspended in the pudding. It looks great, and it's fun to eat.
The tapioca for this recipe has to be soaked overnight before cooking, but after that the recipe is fairly simple. I've lightened it by halving the amount of eggs. I can't tell the difference.
To make this more of a grown-up dessert, I layer the tapioca with a homemade blueberry sauce. The sauce, made with frozen blueberries, takes minutes to create and provides a nice berry blast in the middle of winter.
This dessert can easily be transformed into a holiday breakfast dish by adding a layer or two of granola to the parfait. Small-pearl tapioca can be found in the supermarket in the same section as pudding or cornstarch.
Make Ahead: The parfait's components -- the pudding and the sauce -- can be made a day in advance. Assemble the parfaits just before serving. The recipe uses only about half of the blueberry sauce. Use the remaining sauce on pancakes or French toast, with yogurt or cottage cheese.
Yield: (4 cups of tapioca pudding) and 2 cups of sauce
- For the tapioca
- 1/2 cup small-pearl tapioca
- 3 cups low-fat (2 percent) milk
- 1/8 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 1 large egg, lightly beaten
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- For the sauce
- 1 pound frozen blueberries, defrosted (3 cups)
- 3/4 cup sugar
- 1/2 cup water
- Freshly grated zest and juice of 1 lemon (1 teaspoon zest and 2 tablespoons juice)
- 1 tablespoon cornstarch
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
For the tapioca: Place it in a plastic container, then add water to cover by about 3 inches. Cover the container and refrigerate overnight.
To make the pudding, drain the tapioca pearls and discard the water. Whisk together the drained tapioca pearls, the milk, salt, sugar and egg in a medium pot over medium heat; cook for about 15 minutes, whisking constantly, until the pudding thickens. Remove from the heat and let sit for 15 minutes. Add the vanilla extract, stirring to incorporate.
At this point, the pudding can be served warm; or cool it completely and refrigerate until ready to serve.
For the sauce: Combine the blueberries, sugar, water and lemon zest in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Cook, stirring, until the sugar dissolves and the liquid begins to bubble at the edges. Reduce the heat to medium-low and cook for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. The mixture will be barely bubbling at the edges.
Meanwhile, dissolve the cornstarch in the lemon juice in a measuring cup, then add to the saucepan, stirring to incorporate. Increase the heat to medium-high; once the mixture comes to a boil, cook for 2 to 3 minutes, until thickened.
Remove from the heat and let cool for 15 minutes, then add the vanilla extract and mix well.
To make the parfaits, have ready 8 small sundae, parfait or martini glasses. Place a generous spoonful of tapioca in the bottom of each one; add a layer of the blueberry sauce, a layer of tapioca, another layer of blueberry sauce and then a last layer of tapioca. Top with a few of the blueberries taken out of the sauce. Serve immediately.
From columnist Stephanie Witt Sedgwick.
Tested by Stephanie Witt Sedgwick.
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