One of my all time favorite snack foods from the olden days when I lived in America has got to be rice pudding- and not just any rice pudding- Kozy Shack rice pudding- the absolute best, creamiest and most delicious pudding ever. Every summer when I would fly back to visit, I would make sure there were containers of this deliciousness waiting for me upon arrival. Creamy, vanilla-y, sweet but not too sweet and only enhanced by a hefty shake of good quality cinnamon, my mouth still waters at the thought. Well, exactly one year ago (happy healthaversary to us!) the hubs and I decided to start living healthier lives, exercising more, and cutting out sugar and refined carbs from our diet. I am happy to report that together we have lost a total of over 80 pounds and we feel great!! But I still sometimes miss my Kozy Shack. So to celebrate this milestone in our lives I made this tapioca pudding using coconut cream that comes so close to my rice pudding memories that I was in creamy pudding heaven. Best part? It is pareve, vegan, has no refined sugar,takes 15 minutes to come together, and is pretty healthy as dessert goes. I'm hooked! Serve topped with some fresh fruit (mango is traditional but strawberries are also great) and you have a beautiful and healthy dessert. Enjoy!
1 cup small tapioca pearls- the tapioca pearls I get do not require soaking- if yours do, let them sit in the coconut mixture for 15 minutes or as long as your package says before turning on the heat.
4 cups coconut cream (NOT cream of coconut)
4 cups water
1/2 a vanilla bean (alternatively you can use 1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract added after the pudding is removed from the fire)
good pinch of a salt
1 teaspoon good quality cinnamon
1/2 cup pure maple syrup (plus more to taste)
Into a large sauce pan pour the coconut cream and water. Open and scrape the vanilla bean adding the bean and the scrapings to the coconut mixture. Add the salt, cinnamon, maple syrup, and the tapioca pearls and bring the mixture up to a slow simmer. Let the mixture cook over medium heat mixing very often for about 15 minutes until the mixture thickens and the pearls have swelled and are translucent. Taste to see if you want it sweeter in which case add in a little more maple syrup. Let cool completely and then place in the fridge. The mixture will thicken to full pudding texture once it is refrigerated for a couple of hours. Serve sprinkled with cinnamon and topped with fresh fruit.