Guava-rose tapioca pudding

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Tapioca is one of those old-fashioned desserts that rarely sees an airing these days. Yes, it’s that pudding that looks like frogspawn! Adored by some of us in childhood and loathed by others. I confess to being in the latter category – having had it perhaps once, and not fancying the jellied frogs’ eggs look.

When I recently needed a gluten-free, dairy-free, minimal sugar dessert, a neighbour proffered a recipe for mango tapioca puds. I was dubious of the outcome but they were terrific. The coconut cream makes for a gorgeously creamy texture.

I’ve since experimented with substitute fruits and tried mango-strawberry, fresh-picked blackberries and my latest favourite – guavas. Guavas are my own childhood favourite from growing up in South Africa where they are ubiquitous. Here I had to used tinned guavas but they are still delicious. The flavour combines beautifully with rose essence.

Tapioca is a plant starch extracted from cassava root and the one used in this recipe comes as tiny pearls. It might also be labelled ‘sago’ in Aussie shops (a similar starch but from palm stems).

1 cup small pearl tapioca/sago
1 cup water
2 cups reserved liquid from tins (if there’s not enough, use more water)
1 440g tin coconut cream
2 440g tins guavas
1 tsp rose essence

To make
First pureé the guavas and set aside.

Simmer the tapioca pearls, water and juice until the tapioca goes transparent and soft. It can take 20 minutes till the tapioca is ready, and a lot of stirring! Sometimes it’s hard to tell by looking, so check by tasting.

Add the coconut cream and stir another five minutes.

Add the pureé and rose essence and mix.

When cool enough pour the mixture into a glass bowl (for maximum effect) and refrigerate.

The pudding should set like a thick creamy custard. I decorated mine with sliced strawberries, rose petals and silver balls. Another nice idea is to make individual puds in glasses.

It’s a filling dessert and this amount should feed eight. The guava pips will be crunchy.

Author: Merridy Pugh
Merridy Pugh is an editor and writer based in Hobart. She loves books, sun and tropical fish.

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