Monday, November 23, 2009

Tapioca - Chocolate or Vanilla?

Do you prefer chocolate or vanilla? It's a hard decision so I decided to make both! They're both delicious in their own special way. Tapioca is another blast from the past that is making a big comeback. And once you make it you'll know why. Something so easy shouldn't be so good! Instead of singing tiny bubbles in the wine you'll be singing tiny bubbles in the pudding! Something else to sing about -- Tapioca root can also be used to manufacture environmentally friendly plastic bags. A polymer resin produced from the plant is a viable plastic substitute that is not only biodegradable, but is also compostable, renewable, and recyclable. The resulting product biodegrades in less than 1 year, as opposed to thousands of years for traditional plastics. Bring on the tapioca shopping bags! Of course it's great to bring your own bags but in reality there are still millions of zillions of plastic bags being used so this would be great if they would do this on a world-wide scale!

I picked up a box of "Let's Do Organic" brand tapioca. The 170 gm box will make approximately 5 batches of pudding as per the following recipe. I'll give you the recipe in case you buy your tapioca in the bulk section.

2 cups water
3 tbsp. small pearl tapioca
3 tbsp. sugar
1/8 teaspoon salt (optional)
3/4 cup coconut milk

In a saucepan, bring the water to a boil. Use a whisk or fork to add the tapioca pearls, thus preventing them from sticking together. Let the tapioca cook for about 17 minutes, until the pearls have lost about half of their opaqueness. The mixture will have slightly thickened and the liquid will be cloudy. In a separate bowl, whisk the sugar, salt and coconut milk together. When the tapioca has finished its initial cooking, whisk in the coconut milk mixture. Let cook for 5 minutes. Refrigerate to room temperature.

Chocolate Pudding -- Add 1/4 - 1/2 cup of chocolate chips (do 1/4 cup if you like milk chocolate type flavor and do full 1/2 cup if you like super dark chocolate flavor --- I did the full 1/2 cup) to the hot mixture after you take it off the stove. Stir well and in no time you'll have a beautiful rich chocolate tapioca pudding. Yummy!

Veggie Prairie Girl Rambles
I decided to try a third batch made exclusively with soy milk. While it was a little thinner than the ones I made with coconut milk I found that adding a tablespoon of tapioca starch helped set it a bit more. I also added a teaspoon of coconut extract. By the next day it was considerably thicker and the flavor, while of course much different from the coconut, was also very good and I'd have a hard time picking a favorite. The coconut flavor is bold whilst the soy flavor is more mellow. Even though instructions don't say so there is no need to cover your pot with a lid whilst cooking. I would suggest keeping your temperature on medium as if you boil too hard it gets too starchy (desirable to a point but not if it becomes excessive). However, apparently degree of thickness is a totally personal choice as it is made in many cultures with equally varying styles. Its consistency ranges from thin (runny), to thick, to firm enough to eat with a fork. I'm in the middle of the road group myself. I can also tell you that even if it seems a little thin when warm it does set up quite a bit more especially if left overnight. And next time if you decide you like it thicker add the tablespoon of tapioca starch like I did for the soy milk batch -- that will do the trick. Overall I prefer it cold and a little thicker so the next day was perfection for me.

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