Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Easy Tapioca Pudding and Chiffon Cake

Ever since i discovered this recipe for a quick and easy tapioca pudding, it has become my favorite simple dessert. It's amazingly comforting and the same blog also has a great recipe for chiffon cake. Never mind that this is the only tapioca pudding recipe i've ever tried. Compared to other recipes i've seen which require soaking the tapioca beforehand, this really is a no-brainer.

The recipe can easily be scaled up or down although it will take a bit longer to cook. I just use whatever kind of milk i have around although whole milk does produce a richer end product. I've found that about a third a cup of sugar is plenty for my palate, especially since my family tends to like things less sweet.

I've also made a green tea version of this pudding by simply adding a few teaspoons of matcha green tea powder(enough to produce a nice green color)and steeping a few green tea bags in the milk as it's heating up. I adjusted according to taste until I thought the flavor was strong enough.
Note: add the matcha powder towards the end to avoid discoloration as it cooks

This will definitely be a favorite in my repertoire for many years to come and i'm thinking about trying a coffee version next. I also recently made a strawberry crisp with a honey mascarpone cream adapted from this recipe and it has become my favorite crisp recipe, slightly nudging ahead of Ina Garten's apple and pear crisp.

Tapioca Pudding
Adapted from Chocolate and Zucchini

4 cups milk (I prefer whole milk, but whatever you have)
1/2 a large vanilla bean
1/2 cup + 1 tablespoon small pearl tapioca
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt

Pour the milk into a heavy bottomed medium saucepan. Split the vanilla bean and scrape the seeds, add the bean and seeds to the milk.

Bring milk to a simmer over medium heat. Sprinkle the tapioca into the milk and stir with a heatproof spatula or wooden spoon.

Cook, at a simmer for 15 minutes stirring occasionally. Taste for doneness, should be tender and translucent, but still have some resistance.

Remove from the heat, add the sugar and salt, and stir to dissolve. The mixture will still be quite thin, but will firm up nicely after cooling. You can add more or less tapioca based on your preferences. Transfer to a serving bowl or container and let cool completely.

Tapioca can be made a day ahead, and keeps for a few days in an airtight container in the fridge.

For the green tea version: Steep several green tea bags in the simmering milk, towards the end, add several teaspoons of matcha powder. Skip the vanilla bean, you may add half a teaspoon of vanilla extract if you like.

For a coconut version: use 2 1/4 cups of milk and one can of coconut milk.

For a coffee version: stir in 1-2 tsp of instant coffee granules at the end, depending on your taste. Add more sugar if necessary.
coffee tapioca
This chiffon cake is based off of a Chinese chiffon cake and makes for the perfect light dessert. I've made it countless times and I'm excited to see what other flavors I can make. I'm already thinking about coffee and green tea versions by simply adding some instant coffee granules and matcha green tea powder. This recipe is pretty much foolproof as long as you whip your egg whites enough and use a not nonstick tube pan. (Update: I've added some variations on this chiffon cake that I've tried below.)

Chinese Style Chiffon Cake (鸡蛋糕)
Adapted from Chocolate and Zucchini
Recipe is for one large cake

195 grams cake flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
9 medium egg yolks (8 large or 7 extra large)
Large pinch of salt
1.5 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
165 grams granulated sugar
150ml (3/4 cup) water/juice/milk
120ml (1/2 cup) vegetable oil (any light flavored oil will work)
9 medium egg whites (8 large or 7 extra large)

Preheat the oven to 340°F and have a 10 inch not nonstick tube pan(angel food cake pan) ready, ungreased.

Sift the flour and baking powder together 3 times, set aside.

In a large bowl, combine the egg yolks, salt, vanilla extract, and about 50g of the sugar (reserve the rest for later). Whisk for several minutes, until it turns pale yellow and thick ribbons fall from the whisk. Mix in the oil and the water, and whisk well between each. Add in the flour mixture and whisk until well blended, but don't overmix.

In another large bowl with a clean whisk or in a stand mixer with a whisk attachment, beat the egg whites on medium speed until they start to foam. Add the remaining sugar and beat until stiff.

Whisk a third of the beaten egg whites into the batter and mix until blended. Fold in the rest of the egg whites gently but not timidly with a spatula until just blended. Be sure there are no large clumps of egg whites left as this will leave wet spots in the finished cake.

Pour the batter into the pan. Bake until set and golden brown, about 45-50 minutes or until a skewer comes out clean. As soon as it comes out of the oven, invert the pan onto a cooling rack so the cake won't collapse, let cool completely. To unmold, run a knife around the edge and remove the cake, run knife under the cake to remove the bottom. It's easier to remove if you slice through the cake but you can also just slip the center out or serve it on the pan.
Inverting the cake when I first started, I've since found a bottle that fits the center hole well so I've been using that.
For a Lemon Chiffon Cake:
Rub 2 tsp grated lemon zest into the sugar with your fingers. Then use as directed. Add 1 tbsp lemon juice when beating the egg whites. Add 1 tsp of lemon extract to the egg yolks and reduce vanilla extract to 1 tsp.

For an Orange Chiffon Cake:
Use orange juice. Rub 2 tsp grated orange zest into the sugar with your fingers. Then use as directed.  Add 1 tsp orange extract if you'd like. Reduce vanilla extract to 1 tsp.

For a Coconut Chiffon Cake:
Use coconut milk. Sift one 2 oz package of coconut milk powder with the dry ingredients. Add 1 tsp of coconut extract if desired. Reduce vanilla extract to 1 tsp.
coconut chiffon

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