Reprinted with permission from Serve Yourself by Joe Yonan (Ten Speed Press, March 2011).
Yield: Makes 6 servings
- 3 cups milk, preferably low-fat
- 1/3 cup small pearl tapioca
- 1 tablespoon instant espresso powder
- 2 egg yolks, whisked to combine
- 1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
- 1/3 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
Pour the remaining 2 cups of milk into a mixing bowl or glass measuring cup, sprinkle the espresso powder over, let it sit for a minute or two, and then stir to dissolve.
Whisk the espresso-milk mixture into the tapioca mixture, along with the egg yolks, salt, and 1/3 cup of the sugar. Over medium heat, slowly bring the mixture just barely to a boil, stirring constantly; it will take 10 to 15 minutes. Reduce the heat until the mixture is barely simmering, and continue cooking the tapioca, stirring occasionally, until the beads swell up and become almost translucent and the custard thickens, another 15 to 20 minutes.
Remove from the heat and let it cool. Spoon the pudding into 6 individual 1/2-cup ramekins and wrap each in plastic wrap, pressing the plastic directly onto the surface of the pudding to prevent a skin from forming. Refrigerate until chilled. It will keep it the refrigerator for several days or in the freezer for up to 2 months.
When you are ready to eat, unwrap one of the ramekins of pudding (thaw it first if frozen), and sprinkle the top with 1 teaspoon of the remaining sugar and a pinch of cardamom. Use a small culinary blowtorch to caramelize the sugar on top, keeping the torch moving so you deeply brown but don’t blacken the sugar, then eat.