Tapioca Pudding is an old fashioned and cheering concoction with a delightful texture. The tapioca pearls are bubbly but not effervescent. Not quite jellied. Yet the bubbles are smooth and slippery rolling around in the mouth.
Because the pudding is made with egg yolks, the benefit is that the unused egg whites can be made into meringue cookies. The light and airy crispiness of the dainty meringues is a perfect complement to the smoothness of the pudding.
For the Crock Pot, Adapted from Alton Brown
1/2 cup large pearl tapioca
2 cups cold water
2 1/2 cups milk
1/2 cup heavy cream
Pinch of salt
2 egg yolks
1/3 cup sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
Place tapioca in a medium bowl and cover with water. Cover and let soak overnight.
Drain water from tapioca. Place the tapioca into a slow cooker, along with the milk, heavy cream, and pinch of salt. Cook on high for 2 hours, stirring occasionally.
In a small bowl, whisk together the egg yolks, sugar, and vanilla. Temper small amounts of the tapioca into the egg mixture until you have added at least 1 cup. Then add this back into the remaining tapioca in the slow cooker. Cook for an additional 15 minutes, stirring at least once.
Transfer the pudding to a bowl and cover the surface with parchment paper. Allow to cool at room temperature for 1 hour and then place in the refrigerator until thoroughly chilled.
2 egg whites, room temperature
pinch cream of tartar
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 tsp. vanilla
Preheat oven to 200 degrees. Line 2 large baking sheets with parchment paper.
Beat egg whites and cream of tartar with an electric mixer until soft peaks form. Slowly add sugar, about 1 tablespoon at a time, until all sugar has been added. Continue beating until the whites are stiff and glossy. Add vanilla and beat for 30 seconds more.
Pipe or spoon the meringue into 1 1/2-inch-diameter cookies, spacing them about 1/2 inch apart.
Bake the cookies until dry and crisp throughout, about 1 1/2 hours. Transfer the pans to racks and let the cookies cool.