I bought a bag of medium pearl tapioca from my local Indian grocer and decided to make some for the kids. After the flood that happened this afternoon in my basement, I credit this pudding with saving me from a nervous breakdown.
There is some great tapioca food history at this site.
I prefer my pudding very thick and with lots of tapioca- if you’d like yours creamier, with less pearls, cut the tapioca in half and omit the cornstarch mixture.
1 cup of medium pearl tapioca, soaked in a quart of cold water overnight (NOT INSTANT OR QUICK TAPIOCA)
4 cups of half whole milk/half heavy cream
1 whole egg
3 egg yolks
1 cup of sugar
1 tablespoon cornstarch mixed with 1/4 cup of cold milk
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
Place the tapioca in a large bowl with a quart of cold water. Cover and allow the tapioca to soak for at least 12 hours. When ready to use, use a fine mesh strainer to drain off the water and set the soaked pearls aside.
In a large saucepan, combine the milk/cream, vanilla, 1/2 cup sugar, and the salt and set aside. Place the eggs and yolks in a large bowl and whisk them until they are combined. Slowly add the remaining 1/2 cup sugar, a little at a time, whisking constantly, until all of the sugar is added. Whisk until the egg mixture is a very light yellow color, about two minutes, then set aside.
Place the saucepan with the milk mixture over low heat and bring to a simmer. Once it begins to bubble, remove the pot from heat and temper the eggs with the hot liquid by whisking the eggs constantly as you add the liquid a little at a time.
Once the two mixtures are completely combined, pour the custard back into the original pot and and add the tapioca. Add the nutmeg. Whisk constantly over low heat. Add cornstarch mixture. As you whisk, the mixture will begin to thicken. Watch the pearls, they will become translucent, with just a bit of cloudiness in the centers, indicating that the pudding is done. . Scrape the pudding into a bowl and press plastic wrap directly onto the top surface. Chill in the fridge, at least 2 hours.