Coconut Tapioca Pudding with Mango

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I realize tapioca pudding isn’t everyone’s cup of tea, but I’ve always loved it. We didn’t get a lot of sweets growing up, but my mom used to make tapioca pudding on occasion, so I associate it with a childhood treat the way that most people probably think of chocolate chip cookies. I hadn’t thought about it years, though, until I saw this recipe pop up on my favorite blog a few weeks ago. Coconut and mango are two weaknesses of mine,  and while I’d prefer to eat them (or drink them) on a beach in Hawaii, this is the perfect consolation prize while we’re stuck in the freezing cold continental U.S.

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Tapioca pudding is easy to make, but it does require a bit of advance planning, as the tapioca needs to soak for 30 minutes before cooking and then the pudding needs to be chilled for at least a few hours. The actual cooking time, though, is only about 20 minutes.  I included an extra step (based on Deb’s suggestion and the directions on the bag of tapioca) and added egg whites – the recipe calls for one egg yolk, but you can save the white, whip it with a tiny bit of sugar, and then add it back into the pudding at the end in order to make the pudding a little lighter.  Just make sure to temper the egg white by spooning a bit of the hot pudding into the egg and mixing it up before adding the egg white mixture to the pudding.  Cook pudding for two minutes longer once the egg white is added. I loved the way the pudding turned out with the egg whites, but you could skip this step and just have a firmer, more jello-esque pudding.

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I love the mango topping here, but you could use strawberry purée too (it would be good with lime juice or lemon, or just plain), or any fruit you like, really. It would also be just fine on its own. Toast your coconut, whip your cream, and you have a delicious tropical dessert that will make you feel like you’re in the islands (and it’s dairy-free!).

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Coconut, previously: granola, cupcakes, cookies, soup

Mango, previously: salsa

Pudding, previously: chocolate

Coconut Tapioca Pudding with Mango, from Smitten Kitchen 

Serves Six (I doubled the recipe)

for the pudding: 
1/3 cup small pearl tapioca
2 1/2 cups coconut milk (I used light)
1/3 cup sugar
1 egg yolk (and white, optional)
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

for the mango purée: 

1  ripe mango, peeled, pitted and roughly chopped
juice of one lime

optional garnishes:
whipped coconut cream
toasted coconut flakes
lime zest

make pudding: in a medium saucepan, soak tapioca in coconut milk for 30 minutes. Whisk in egg yolk, sugar, and salt.  Heat the mixture over medium heat until it comes to a simmer, then reduce heat to low so that the pudding is barely bubbling.  Cook until pudding thickens, about 15 minutes, stirring frequently. Remove from heat and add vanilla extract.  Pour into pudding cups to chill for several hours or overnight.

make mango purée: purée mango with lime juice in a blender or food processor; add a little sugar to taste (optional, my mango was pretty sweet and I didn’t need any).  I did this step the night before and the purée was in good shape 24 hours later.

toast coconut: on a parchment-lined baking sheet or jelly roll pan for 5 minutes at 350 degrees F.  Stir halfway through so that the coconut browns evenly; watch closely so that it doesn’t burn.

whip coconut cream: put a can of full fat coconut milk in the fridge the night before you plan to make the cream.  Deb brilliantly suggests turning it upside down, so that when you then open the can from the top you can pour the water right out (the cream will rise to the “top” when chilled).  Beat the coconut cream as you would whipping cream, in a chilled metal bowl and with chilled beaters; add small amount of granulated sugar to taste.  (Note: I used light coconut milk and still got a good amount of cream after chilling it overnight; I’m sure full fat would be even more delicious but mine turned out pretty yummy).

to serve: top pudding with mango; garnish with coconut cream, toasted coconut, and/or lime zest.

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