Dress up a simple Tapioca Pudding by adding a sugar Brûlée topping for a festive occasion.
The simple deliciousness of Tapioca pudding is often accompanied by a pinch of nostalgia, as it was served in most American homes in the 1940s, ’50s and ’60s to eager baby-boomers. To me, the vanilla custard taste with that little extra bit of “chew” from the soft tapioca pearls creates a comfort food dessert sensation in my mouth. So why mess with this time-honored classic pudding and create Tapioca Pudding Brûlée?
Why Tapioca Pudding Brûlée?
Tapioca Pudding Brûlée isn’t really messing with tapioca pudding at all. It’s just adding a new fun topping variation, like adding a fancy accessory to dress up your daytime outfit for a night out. Dressing up tapioca pudding with a brûlée topping is no different from adding some fresh berries, whipped cream, or even a cinnamon stick to your finished pudding.
What’s great about a brûlée topping is that it pairs beautifully with that creamy-smooth vanilla custard texture in Tapioca pudding, really allowing that Creme Brûlée flavor to shine!
Truth be told, you can make this with any tapioca pudding recipe, whether from scratch or with instant pudding mixes you find at your local grocer. Here, I’ll walk you through how I make my homemade tapioca pudding from scratch and turn it into Tapioca Pudding Brûlée.
How to make Tapioca Pudding Brûlée
Soak tapioca pearls overnight in milk to soften. Then add an a vanilla bean or vanilla paste, and set the pot to boil over medium-high heat stirring constantly so the milk doesn’t scorch. The Tapioca (which is made of ground starchy Arrowroots) will release its starches that thicken the milk. Turn the heat off and prepare the eggs and sugar.
Whisk egg yolks and sugar together until smooth. Now we’ll “temper” this mixture. Ladle some of the hot milk mixture into the egg mixture while whisking constantly. Tempering the eggs helps keep them from cooking into clumps when added to the hot milk. When the mixture is smooth, slowly pour it back into the main pot of milk while whisking constantly.
Turn the heat back on and whisk until the mixture thickens significantly, but do not let it boil. This should only take a couple minutes. It should be thick enough that the tapioca pearls aren’t sinking to the bottom anymore, but are held in place by the thick custard.
Pour the pudding into your serving dish or dishes. Here you can see the pearls suspended in the custard. Perfect consistency!
What does Brûlée Mean?
Brûlée simply means burnt in French; which then conjures up all kinds of nasty memories of eating burnt food. However, Tapioca Pudding brûlée is not bitter at all! The heat from your oven broiler (or a hand-held torch) melts and caramelized a layer of sugar sprinkled over the pudding, creating a lovely ‘crust’ with which you must ‘break’ to get through to the creamy underlayer. Oooh I just love it!
The brûlée on the Tapioca Pudding Brûlée elevates the humble tapioca pudding to something extraordinary, beautiful, and fancy that you can serve your guests for any special occasion or holiday. The flavors meld together perfectly while the brûlée adds a lovely additional textural component to the chewy tapioca pearls. I hope you give this idea a try and please leave me feedback down below. Thank you so much for leaving a recipe rating as well. Enjoy!Print
Make your simple old fashioned tapioca pudding fancy for a special holiday meal by adding a Brûlée topping!
- 1/2 cup +1 tablespoon medium pearl tapioca
- 3 cups whole milk
- 2 teaspoons vanilla bean paste
- 2 eggs
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 1/3 cup turbinado sugar
1. Place tapioca pearls and milk in a container with a lid. Set in the fridge overnight to soften the pearls and help them release their starch.
2. Pour pearls and milk into a stockpot or large-sized Dutch oven set to medium-high heat. Add vanilla bean paste. Bring the mixture to a gentle boil stirring frequently, until the tapioca pearls are completely translucent with no white remaining in their centers (about 5-10 minutes). The milk should start to thicken also.
3. Crack eggs into a mixing bowl and whisk together with the sugar until smooth. Pour a ladle-full of hot milk/tapioca mixture into the egg mixture while whisking the eggs constantly. This will help “temper” the eggs so they don’t get clumpy when added to the hot pudding.
4. Stir the egg mixture into the pudding. Cook for 2-5 minutes, stirring constantly until the pudding becomes thick and will cling to the back of a spoon. It does not need to come to a boil again. Remove from heat and pour into an oven-safe serving dish.
5. Set your broiler to high and move an oven rack to the second from top position. Sprinkle the turbinado sugar as evenly as possible over the entire surface of the pudding. Place it under the broiler to melt and brown the sugar over the entire surface of the pudding, about 3-5 minutes. Check it frequently to ensure it doesn’t burn and to move it around if necessary. Remove from heat and serve either warm or cool with fresh fruit.
If you are substituting liquid vanilla, do not add it in step 2. Instead, stir the vanilla in after removing the pudding from heat in step 4.
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