Sometimes I just like to play around in the kitchen, pretending like I know what I’m doing. 🙂 This dessert is the result of a few lucky accidents and experiments that pushed the boundaries of what a pudding can be. I just kept asking “what if…” until I had a final product unlike anything I’ve ever seen. This dessert is 50% tapioca pudding, 50% creme brûlée, and 100% delicious. It starts out as a humble tapioca until we make a few smart substitutions to transform it into a completely unique caramelized, custard-like dessert.
The best part? For such a rich pudding, each serving has less than 250 calories. This one takes a little work, but it’s well worth the effort. Let’s roll up our sleeves and get started…
Makes 4 ramekins
- 2 13.5 oz. cans light coconut milk
- ¼ cup granulated tapioca
- ¼ cup + 2 tablespoons maple syrup
- dash of salt
- 1 ½ tablespoons vanilla
- berries for garnish
- For optional whipped cream: 1 can full-fat coconut milk, vanilla, and agave to taste
Part One: The Pudding
In a saucepan, add 1 ¾ cans of coconut milk – save a few tablespoons for our caramel sauce later. Stir in a dash of salt and the tapioca granules and allow to simmer over medium heat. Stir occasionally.
Meanwhile, we’re going to “caramelize” some maple syrup. By taking this extra step, the pudding will have an even richer and more custardy flavor. So, in a separate skillet, add ¼ cup maple syrup and cook over medium heat until it starts to bubble. Stir regularly and allow it to bubble for several minutes until it becomes thick and sticky – if you were to remove this from the heat and let it cool, you’d have solid maple candy. Before that happens, pour the syrup into the tapioca pudding and stir well.
When the tapioca starts to swell and become translucent, remove it from the heat and stir in 1 ½ tablespoons of vanilla. Then, pour the pudding into 4 ramekins and let chill for at least 4 hours.
Part Two: The Caramelized Maple Sauce
This step was also an accident. If you caramelize the maple syrup (like above), it becomes hard candy when cooled… but add in a little liquid (coconut milk), and you have a sweet caramel sauce with the perfect texture. So just like before, we’re basically going to caramelize a little more syrup.
Reheat that skillet and add another 2-3 tablespoons of maple syrup. Again, allow it to bubble for several minutes (stirring constantly). This time, remove it from the heat and add about 2 tablespoons of the reserved coconut milk. As it cools, it should have a light golden color and a wonderful caramelized maple taste. Set this aside until ready to be served.
Part Three: The Brûlée
Brûlée is French for “burned” and in a creme brûlée it refers to the sugar that is burnt and caramelized onto the top of the custard. In our case, we’ll be caramelizing a little of the maple sauce in the broiler.
Allow the the pudding to thoroughly chill until the top has a solid film. Then, using a pastry brush (or just a fork), coat the top of each ramekin with a thin layer of the sauce. Add to your oven’s broiler for about 5 minutes until the sauce starts bubbling and caramelizing. Finally, return to the refrigerator (or freezer) for about 10 minutes before serving so that the maple caramel forms a crust on top. [Of course, you could also use a brûlée torch – if you’re cool like that].
For a little extra awesome…
You *can* just eat this as it is, but if you want to go the extra mile, set the ramakin on a plate and swirl a little maple sauce next to it. Then, top with a dollop of coconut whipped cream*, a few berries, and a sprig of mint. Bon appétit!
*To make a simple coconut whipped cream, refrigerate a can of full-fat coconut milk. After a few hours, the fat will separate from the water and solidify. Extract the solid parts (draining away all the water). You can then whip (by hand or with an electric beater) with a little vanilla and sweetener into a creamy whipped topping.