Jasmine Tapioca Pudding

My tarragon crème brûlée bombed on the menu (can’t win them all, can you?), so I had to find something to replace it.  I was inspired by a jasmine tapioca pudding in the Williams-Sonoma book New Flavors for Dessert.  I LOVE the taste and fragrance of jasmine.  I think it just lovely.  I wasn’t raised with tapioca pudding, so I have always thought it was kind of strange.  But after making and tweaking this recipe, I think I have come around to it.

Jasmine-Scented Tapioca Pudding

The original recipe called for large-pearl tapioca.  I was not about to run all around town looking for the large pearls, so I got the small pearls and altered the recipe accordingly.  I know, I know, I could probably have gone to the famous Asian supermarket in town, but after the trauma of searching through the multitude of agar agar boxes one time, I just didn’t want to attempt the adventure.  And besides, the large pearls are like eating contact lenses.  This is also different from a traditional tapioca pudding because there are no eggs.

Jasmine Tapioca Pudding
(8 servings)
1/2 cup small-pearl tapioca
Water as needed
1 cup half-and-half
3 tbsp loose-leaf Jasmine tea
4 cup milk
1/4 cup plus 2 tbsp sugar
Pinch of salt

Cover the tapioca with plenty of water and let sit for about a half hour.  Meanwhile, in a saucepan, bring the half-and-half just to a simmer and stir in the tea.  Cover the pan and let steep for about 5 minutes.  Strain out the tea leaves and discard them.  Set the half-and-half aside until needed.

When the tapioca has soaked, drain and rinse it.  In a saucepan, combine the milk, sugar, salt and tapioca and heat over medium low, stirring constantly, until the pudding has thickened and the tapioca have mostly turned translucent.  Then, remove from the heat and stir in the jasmine-infused half-and-half.  Let the pudding cool and chill out.  When ready to serve, give it a stir and portion.  Top with seasonal fruit and simple cookies on the side.

This pudding is not that sweet, so if you want it sweeter add some more sugar.  If the pudding turns out too thick after it’s cooled down, thin it with some additional half-and-half.