Cuscuz branco, the actual name of this Brazilian dessert is made of milled tapioca that has been cooked with sugar and milk and is very popular in Brazil.
• ½ cup pearl tapioca (large pearls preferred)
• ¼ teaspoon salt
• 2 eggs – separated
• 2½ cups milk (we used 1%)
• ½ cup sugar
• ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
• Condensed milk (for drizzling)
• 1 cup, shredded coconut (optional)
• Pecans, chopped (optional)
• Cinnamon powder (optional)
1. Soak tapioca overnight in 2 cups of room temperature water. Drain, if necessary.
2. In double boiler, heat milk just until warm. (we used a heat proof glass bowl over a medium-sized pot.)
3. Add vanilla extract, salt and tapioca. Continue cooking over medium heat for about 10 minutes.
4. Cover, turn heat down low and cook for one hour. It should not simmer. And add more water to the pot if necessary.
5. After an hour, most of the milk will have been absorbed by the tapioca pearls. At this time, beat egg yolks and sugar together until yellow and smooth.
6. Take about ¼ cup of the hot tapioca mixture and add to the egg yolks and sugar mix, and quickly blend thoroughly. Add another ¼ cup and do the same.
7. Now take blended egg yolk and tapioca mixture and to the tapioca mixture, stirring quickly and constantly. (It’s important to do the process in this manner to avoid clumping).
8. Then transfer to the cooking pot (emptying the water first of course!) and continue cooking over medium heat for another 10-15 minutes and stirring constantly. Mixture will continue to expand.
9. To add fluffiness, beat egg whites until stiff. Fold tapioca into egg whites. Then divide into serving bowls.
10. Top with coconut, cinnamon powder and chopped pecans. Drizzle condensed milk right before serving. Can be served warm or cold. We prefer cold.
Makes 6 one cup servings.
Elizabeth Carrion, a Dominican, co-founded Mi Cocina, a New Jersey-based catering service that also offers cooking classes, with her sister, Ana Martinez. Follow her on Twitter: @micocinalatina and visit her website micocina-latina.com.