Make Boring Old Tapioca Pudding Exciting With Coconut Milk And Cardamom

Tapioca pudding seems like the kind of old-timey dish that even people 100 years ago probably found boring. If you've had tapioca this century, it's more likely that you consumed it in the form of boba pearls than as pudding. Still, in a culinary environment where something so basic as macaroni and cheese can get all glammed up with trendy ingredients like kimchi or 'nduja, why shouldn't tapioca pudding have its own makeover moment? As Mashed developer Jennine Bryant says of her fancied-up coconut-cardamom tapioca pudding, "It's all about what you do with it."

So what, exactly, does Bryant do to make her tapioca so special? For starters, she adds a can of coconut milk to give it a bit of a tropical taste. (Pro vegan tip: You can also replace the dairy milk with coconut milk, too, and the honey with sugar or maple syrup.) She then seasons the pudding with cardamom, calling this spice "an on-trend flavor" that "gives the pudding a more modern twist."

You can also get creative with the toppings

Once the pudding is done cooking, you don't have to stop there. Add to the overall flavor with some creative toppings — Jennine Bryant herself favors fresh fruit, opting for a combination of blueberries, mango, and coconut, but she suggests that strawberries or peaches could also work. Pineapple, too, would be a wonderful option since it would give the pudding an almost piña colada-like flavor when combined with the coconut milk.

You needn't limit yourself to fruit as a topping, either. Chopped or sliced nuts or even granola would add some crunch to contrast with the pudding's smooth texture, while whipped cream or chocolate chips would make the dish feel even more dessert-like. If you want to turn this plain pudding into a truly deluxe dessert, though, scoop it into individual ramekins or a quart-sized ovenproof pan, then bake it until it's firm. (About half an hour at 300 degrees Fahrenheit should do it.) Sprinkle the top with a few tablespoons of sugar to cover it, using coarse sugar if you have it or the regular granulated kind if you don't. Either broil the sugar or heat it with a pocket torch until it melts, then you'll have tapioca pudding brûlée.