An exotic cross between tapioca pudding and sweetened iced coconut milk, this refreshing gluten free dessert from the team behind San Francisco’s Burma Superstar restaurant is unusual, approachable, and totally captivating. Reducing the coconut milk into a cream and then reconstituting it helps keep the coconut milk from separating. While granulated sugar works fine, palm sugar, available at Asian markets, adds a subtle caramel taste to the dessert. If you buy it, look for light-colored pure Thai palm sugar, which comes in 3-inch rounds. Two rounds is the perfect quantity for the syrup.
Iced Coconut Cream with Tapioca Pearls Gluten-Free Recipe
- 1/2 cup (2 rounds) palm sugar or granulated sugar plus 2 tablespoons granulated sugar, or 15 grams chopped palm sugar
- 2 (13.5-ounce) cans unsweetened coconut milk
- 1/2 cup tapioca pearls (regular white, not the big pearls used for bubble tea)
- Pinch of salt
- Ice cubes, for serving
In a small saucepan, combine the 1/2 cup sugar and 1/2 cup water. Simmer over medium-low heat until the sugar is completely dissolved and the liquid has thickened slightly, 6 to 10 minutes. Once cooled, the syrup should be able to lightly coat a spoon. Set aside.
In a medium high-sided saucepan over medium heat, warm the coconut milk and the 2 tablespoons sugar. Be careful because the milk might start to splatter as it heats. Once the milk starts bubbling, lower the heat to a gentle simmer and cook until the coconut milk has been reduced by a quarter or third. Let cool at room temperature, then refrigerate, covered, to chill thoroughly, about 40 minutes.
In a medium saucepan, bring 3 cups water to a boil. Add the tapioca and salt, return the liquid to a boil, then lower the heat to medium-low. Simmer, stirring often to prevent the tapioca from sticking to the bottom of the pan, until the grains are nearly clear, 15 minutes. Turn off the heat, cover, and let sit 5 minutes to continue to absorb water until completely clear. Stir in 2 tablespoons of the sugar syrup and pour into a heatproof glass bowl. Let cool to room temperature.
To serve, add ice cubes to six large glasses. Generously spoon in some of the tapioca. Stir the coconut cream, pour enough over the ice and tapioca to coat, then drizzle the sugar syrup on top as desired. Serve with spoons.
Photography John Lee