With toasted sugar, brown butter and brûléed bananas, this tapioca pudding brings together a range of toasty, nutty flavors as well as textures. Traci, the sous chef of porridge + puffs, recently served a version of this dish at the restaurant when one the local farms we partner with, Grow Good, gave us more bananas than we knew what to do with them.
- In a small sauce pan, cube butter, put in pan and let it melt over medium heat. Cook until butter turns medium brown color. Should smell super nutty.
- In a fine-mesh sieve, strain solid fats from liquid. Put solids aside to cool and dry. The liquid known as clarified brown butter will be used to fry bananas and top pudding.
- Toast sugar by spreading granulated sugar on a 8"-10" skillet. Put over low heat and air-toss or stir with a wooden spoon to avoid hot spots, toasting the sugar evenly. The goal is to get the sugar toasted and not liquefied (becoming caramel). Color should be light gold (a few shades darker than the original color), not too dark. One may be tempted to substitute with toasted sugar with brown sugar for brulee, but note this sugar is very different—less moisture, more efficient caramelization.
- Bring water and one cup coconut milk to a boil. Lower heat to medium. Add salt and tapioca. Simmer and stir gently. Start adding sugar slowly until all is incorporated. Cook until tapioca goes from opaque to translucent. Taste for texture (tapioca should be bouncy and chewy, not crunchy nor too soft). Take off heat. Cooking time is going to vary depending on brand of tapioca and how the tapioca was processed.
- Add remainder of coconut milk and cream which will help temper the liquid and slow down cooking. At this point, if a softer tapioca is desired, cook a bit longer, stirring gently.
- Adjust flavor/thickness with more cream/milk, sugar, salt.
- Peel and cut bananas into slices.
- In a small frying pan, pan fry bananas to a golden brown on one side. Salt sparsely. Let cool on paper towels.
- Reserve clarified butter.
- Divide tapioca pudding into even amounts in each cup.
- On top of tapioca, divide leftover clarified butter after frying bananas.
- Place single layer of bananas fried-side down in each cup.
- Mix butter-fat solids and toasted sugar.
- Top bananas with butter-sugar. Gently torch by holding the torch about 3-4" away from sugar and rotate. Torch until all sugar has liquefied and turned a golden-deep brown. Wait a minute for it to harden and crackle. Amount of sugar will vary depending on how much crackly surface area and thickness is desired.