This requires a little patience and stirring, so Food editor Joe Yonan likes to make a few cups at a time so he can portion and freeze the pudding.
Make Ahead: The pudding can be refrigerated for several days or frozen for up to 2 months.
Servings: 6 half-cup servings
- 3 cups whole or low-fat milk
- 1/3 cup small-pearl tapioca
- 1 tablespoon instant espresso powder
- 2 large egg yolks
- 1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
- 1/3 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
Have six half-cup ramekins at hand.
Pour 1 cup of the milk into a heavy saucepan. Add the tapioca; soak for at least 30 minutes.
Pour the remaining 2 cups of milk into a mixing bowl or glass measuring cup. Sprinkle the espresso powder over it, let it sit for a minute or two and then stir to dissolve.
Whisk the espresso-milk mixture into the tapioca mixture, along with the egg yolks, salt and 1/3 cup of the sugar. Place over medium heat; slowly bring the mixture barely to a boil, stirring constantly; this will take 10 to 15 minutes. Reduce the heat until the mixture is barely bubbling; cook for 15 to 20 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the beads swell up and become almost translucent and the custard thickens.
Remove from the heat. Let the pudding cool, then divide it among the ramekins. Wrap each one in plastic wrap, pressing the plastic directly onto the surface of the pudding to prevent a skin from forming. Refrigerate until chilled.
(At this point, the pudding can be refrigerated for several days or frozen for up to 2 months.)
When you are ready to eat, unwrap one of the pudding ramekins (defrost it first if needed) and sprinkle the top with 1 teaspoon of the remaining sugar and a small pinch of the cardamom. Use a culinary blowtorch to caramelize the sugar on top, keeping the torch moving so you deeply brown but don't blacken the sugar.
From Yonan's "Serve Yourself: Nightly Adventures in Cooking for One" (Ten Speed Press, 2011).
Tested by Joe Yonan.
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