Raspberry Honey Tapioca

April 14, 2011 at 2:08 pm 103 comments

Raspberry Honey Tapioca Pudding

I’ve wanted to be a journalist ever since the 9th grade. My reasons then were few but passionate – I wanted to use the written word to uncover the truth, to change my community, to travel and inspire and burgeon forth with knowledge. My sense of direction grew stronger with every internship and workshop. When I left Seattle for Boston, I left as a journalism major.

But ever since I got here, I’ve been tainted with doubt. I ignored it for months and tried to enjoy my journalism classes. They sent me into the city for man-on-the-street interviews and to city hall for public records. I learned how to use cameras and microphones to record audio and video packages. And though I’ve loved hearing my voice on the radio and coming up with stories, I don’t like where I’m headed.

The reality I have to face is this – I don’t like hard news. Sifting through police reports, breaking essential details into short graphs, learning the broadcast aspects of journalism necessary to survive today’s newsroom… This isn’t for me. But when you’ve been so sure of your path for so long, the thought of starting fresh terrifies.

Raspberry Honey

I scheduled a visit with my academic advisor. We looked over my schedule for next semester (which was limited, since I’m studying abroad in Europe in the fall). I was clearly less than enthused about the journalism class I’d be taking, the next step on the journalism major ladder. He folded his fingers into a triangle on his desk, leaned forward and asked, “What do you want to do with your life?”

“Well, I want to write,” I said. “I’m interested in freelancing for different magazines, maybe writing a column.”

“Yes,” he interrupted, tapping his pencil on the course catalogue. “Half the kids here want to write. But think about it, seriously. What are you really passionate about?

That’s when I realized I already knew. Maybe I’d known all along. I flipped to a junior-level class – Creative Writing: Nonfiction Travel Writing – and declared, “This is where I want to be.”

He leaned back in his chair and shrugged his shoulders, like, that’s that. “Then maybe you shouldn’t be a journalism major, if you’d like to get into that class. You know, the only one you seem genuinely excited about.” He handed me a major change form and said, “Mull it over.”

I walked out of his office shaking. Daunted by the work that changing my major conjured. Scared of making the wrong choice. I headed to the mailroom to pick up a package that had arrived for me, trusting my feet to take me there while my head spun.

Raspberry Honey Tapioca Pudding

I don’t frequently receive packages, and at that moment I was unprepared for the lovely surprise that was Heidi Swanson’s (of 101 cookbooks fame) new cookbook, Super Natural Every Day. I tore off the paper as the elevator lurched, and I was already flipping through when I got to my floor.

The cookbook was a relief. This was familiar, well-traveled territory, a path I’d always know was right for me. This cookbook was like breathing.

I worked my way through the sections. Every page offered breathtaking photos, Heidi’s beautiful writing, and recipes that made me want to be a more wholesome eater. I was starved for cookbooks, having left my entire collection at home. This one satisfied a hunger sorely missed. The sides of the book became frilly with scraps of paper, marking the recipes I wanted to try first. I couldn’t bear to dog-ear the corners.

I settled on Heidi’s Honey & Rose Water Tapioca, and walked to the store.

Raspberries

I made the pudding using the stovetop in the common room. I left out the rosewater and used raspberry blossom honey, but otherwise stuck true to Heidi’s recipe. Everything about this all-milk, honey-sweetened dessert comforted. While the common room emptied bags of Fritos and put on a movie, I stirred constellations of tapioca pearls. The custard slowly thickened and the pearls grew plump and opaque. Sometimes people asked what I was making, and the floor taste-tested with plastic spoons.

As the dessert set, inspiration came. I grabbed a notebook and scrawled down the phrases that came to mind – “raspberry honey marries with a flurry of lemon zest,” “bright and wholesome,” “creamy pudding studded with chewy tapioca beads.” Writing and food are inseparable, and good food puts my pencil to paper.

I smoothed the pudding into some Tupperware and looked again at the notebook. Maybe my path has always been this obvious… It just took a little trial and error to figure it out.

Raspberry Honey Tapioca Pudding

The paperwork is official. When people ask what I’m studying, I don’t hesitate to say, “I’m a writing major with a minor in journalism.” And I swell with joy every time.

Maybe somewhere down the road, I’ll try to design my own major. I’ll combine elements of print journalism with writing and publishing and some solid English literature. It isn’t completely clear yet, but I have faith in myself. For now, I’ll enjoy my summer, spend a sleepless semester in Europe, and continue to write and eat.

[PS: I also have some incredible news to share! I've been invited to speak at BlogHer Food '11, on a panel with my Kitchen Generation co-founders about food blogging and the younger crowd. I'll finally get to meet my fellow teen food bloggers in person after a year of Skype chats. I'll get to meet scores of food bloggers I truly admire. I almost can't contain myself.

The conference is May 20-21 in Atlanta, Georgia, and there's still time to register. Maybe I'll see you there?]

Super Natural Every Day

This tapioca pudding brings back childhood with a decidedly sophisticated twist. It’s thick, creamy, and full-bodied, brightened with lemon zest. The flavor of the honey really shines through true, so pick a milk honey with a flavor you like enough to lick off the spoon.

Make sure to use small pearl tapioca, not instant tapioca. I found a box for $2.99 at Whole Foods (that’s also where you can pick up raspberry honey and rose water.) Bob’s Red Mill small pearl tapioca is a good brand.

The only thing I’d suggest is to make sure the lemon zest is very fine so the texture of the pudding stays utterly smooth.

Raspberry Honey Tapioca
From Heidi Swanson’s Super Natural Every Day
Serves 4-6

3 cups / 710 ml milk
1/3 cup / 2.5 oz / 70 g small pearl tapioca
2 large egg yolks, lightly beaten
1/4 tsp fine-grain sea salt
1/3 cup / 80 ml mild honey (I used raspberry honey)
Grated zest of 1 small lemon
1/4 to 1 tsp rose water (I left this out)
Chopped toasted pistachios or sliced raspberries to garnish

Soak the tapioca in 1 cup / 240 ml of the milk in a medium, heavy saucepan for 30 – 60 minutes. Whisk in the yolks, salt, honey, and remaining milk.

Bring the mixture barely to a boil over medium-low heat, stirring. This will take about 15 minutes. Decrease the heat so the mixture gently simmers, stirring constantly, for another 20 minutes or until the tapioca is fully cooked (this depends on how large your tapioca pearls are.) The tapioca is fully cooked when the pearls swell up and are nearly translucent – tasting is the best way to tell. The pudding itself will also thicken into a custard. Continue to taste and stir, preventing the tapioca from scorching.

Remove the pan from the heat, stir in the lemon zest, then let the pudding cool (it will thicken a bit.) Stir in the rose water, if using, and wait another few minutes. Heidi likes to eat it warm, topped with pistachios, but I liked it cold, with fresh raspberries.

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103 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Brian @ A Thought For Food  |  April 23, 2011 at 4:12 pm

    This recipe has been marked in my book… it just looks absolutely wonderful!

    Congrats on being asked to speak at the conference. Shame I won’t be able to come this year :-(

    Reply
  • 2. Brenda  |  April 23, 2011 at 9:48 pm

    I am still waiting for the tapioca to thicken…=(. It’s taking longer than stated despite following the recipe to a “T”.

    Reply
  • 3. themexcellentcook  |  April 23, 2011 at 10:02 pm

    Why not be a cookbook author? Travel to various countries, learn the cuisines, and write wonderful books about the food!

    Follow your passion, because life’s too short to do something you don’t absolutely love.

    Reply
  • 4. Kara  |  April 24, 2011 at 10:37 am

    Looks amazing

    Reply
  • 5. Rosa  |  April 24, 2011 at 6:11 pm

    Congrats on that decision!

    Thst pudding looks and sounds divine.

    cheers,

    Rosa

    Reply
  • 6. Elaine  |  April 25, 2011 at 1:36 am

    Another thought — though “hard journalists” always insist that’s all the journalism there is, do look at “literary journalism” (which I think is called something else these days) — anyway, it’s very literate non-fiction. I think you’d like that; I certainly did. And with training in this you can do anything you want. A journalism school friend of mine wrote a whole book about driving across the U.S. trying different kinds of pies — it was adventure and travel and food all put together. Something like this might be just want you want — so take all the “literary journalism” classes your college offers. It’s great training and not hard news.

    Reply
  • 7. Ginger&Rice  |  April 25, 2011 at 5:15 pm

    Wow, WHERE do you buy tapioca pearls?!
    That pudding reminds me of my bubble tea!
    Your pictures are soo beautiful, you could make posters.

    Reply
  • 8. Maggie  |  April 25, 2011 at 11:46 pm

    I love reading your blog. I can taste the food through your words. You have a wonderful gift.

    My experience has been the “safe” choices I made are the ones I regret. The times I followed my heart and took risks have given me the most terror, the most personal growth, and the most satisfaction.

    You are a smart cookie. You’ll be fine.

    MaggieG.

    “For all sad words of tongue and pen, The saddest are these, ‘It might have been’.” John Greenleaf Whittier

    Reply
    • 9. Elissa's Dad  |  April 26, 2011 at 1:50 am

      Well said Maggie

  • 10. Vanessa Sanchez  |  April 27, 2011 at 3:33 am

    Hi, Today is the first time I read you blog and i think your phenomenal. You have such ease and grace when it comes to writing and I love the way you can connect baking to the dilemmas in your life. You definitely made the right choice in major. Looking forward to reading more!

    Reply
  • 11. Lea  |  April 27, 2011 at 8:51 am

    That looks so great with the tapioca, and sounds tasty!
    Taopioca is something really not known here, but I have to try it!

    Reply
  • 12. Nina Roque  |  April 27, 2011 at 5:52 pm

    Hey Elissa! It’s Nina! I’m so proud of you! I wish I could go see you at Atlanta! Best wishes!

    Reply
  • 13. nurturing  |  April 27, 2011 at 10:19 pm

    Elissa, I applaud you on your decision. Following your heart is usually the right way to go. Your contribution to the blog world is significant and very appealing. I can see you achieving even greater success with hard-copy publishing. I, for one,await your first cookbook!

    Reply
  • 14. Caroline  |  April 28, 2011 at 9:23 am

    My intended major when I started college didn’t last a full year either. I’ve changed twice since then, but I finally found something that stuck. I hope you enjoy your new major better. Congrats on studying abroad in the fall. I’ll be heading out for Europe too; perhaps our paths will cross. Best of luck in your travels!

    Reply
  • 15. Cacau  |  April 28, 2011 at 4:56 pm

    Hi!
    Here in Brazil we love tapioca pearls, and we often prepare it with wine and spices (like a muled wine) and it is delicious!
    Next time, try with coconut flakes and condensed milk. I will try to post this recipe as soon as possible :)

    Thanks for sharing :)

    Reply
  • 16. Tori  |  April 30, 2011 at 12:26 pm

    I can relate in regards to your journalism dilemma. I, too, aspired to be a journalist since junior high. Indeed, I minored in it at university but dreaded most of the courses. I disliked the monosyllabic writing that felt dry and souless. Thankfully my minor was in professional writing so I was able to take non-fiction writing courses that made attaining my minor much easier.

    I hope you find your path.

    Reply
  • 17. Aundrea L.  |  May 9, 2011 at 12:20 pm

    This has an interesting look to it but looks absouletly amazing! Wish I could bake like you (:

    Reply
  • 18. Lauren B.  |  May 9, 2011 at 3:19 pm

    It is a frightening thing when you have to decide wether you want to stay on the course you have been following for so long or veer from it. I have been faced with this decison recently when I had to chose which college I want to attend in the fall. Following your heart and keeping faith in your decision is what will make you the happiest.

    Reply
  • 19. Kellie  |  May 9, 2011 at 4:09 pm

    You are a wonderful writer, you should definitely keep up with it!

    Reply
  • 20. Liv @ The Salty n' Sweet  |  May 10, 2011 at 9:42 am

    Oh wow, reading the beginning of your post felt like reading my own thoughts. I, too, am a Journalism major, and I’m not totally sure that hard-hitting journalism is where I’m meant to be. I don’t have a knack for digging for answers, or hunting down every last interview. I still have a real interest in it, but I don’t know if that’s where my passion lies. I love food and writing, and I’m an English double-major, but I have no idea where that will take me.

    I’m studying abroad in Hong Kong right now, and I’m sure you’ll have a blast in Europe next semester. Where will you be??

    Good luck at the Blogher conference, and I wish I could attend to hear you speak, and meet all of the other bloggers out there to whom I look for inspiration.

    I’m sure we’ll all find our paths in the end!

    Reply
  • 21. Lexie  |  May 12, 2011 at 12:28 am

    Change is something will remain constant forever however, I konw how you felt when you were overcome with thoughts about changing your future and what you want to do. Through all of the things I have gone through, I have learned that life is all about how we deal with the things that are unexpected. From the moment we are born it seems as though we have a plan for our lives, and when something triggers the road that we have set for ourselves, it is very hard to accept the change and move forward from there. I applaud you on finding the balance between journalism and creative writing, and it looks as though you are on the path that you are intended to be on. Sometimes, and the great thing is, that what we want to do, and the path that is right for us, is what we have been doing all along.

    Reply
  • 22. Amanda  |  May 12, 2011 at 11:33 am

    In my Enlish class, one of our asignments is to read and comment on blog post. Every time you post a blog, I absolutely love reading yours. The way you write is so great and gives a personal feel. I can honestly say you are a great writer and because of that I have enjoyed reading every single one of your blogs!
    Thank you!

    Reply
  • 23. Jennifer  |  May 13, 2011 at 12:57 pm

    More than a decade after college, I still find myself in the place of recognizing something that is so me, it’s like coming back to a tall glass of sweet water on a dry and thirsty day. It’s beautiful to see you recognizing yourself. These are the things that make you who you are – don’t starve yourself from them. The more practice you get now at recognizing and honoring them, the quicker you’ll be to do it throughout your life. And the happier. :)

    Reply
  • 24. Emily T  |  May 15, 2011 at 2:26 pm

    This is such an inspiring blog post. I’ve wanted to be a journalism major since…well, 8th grade. As I approach college next fall, I am excited, yet unsure. It’s reassuring to know that others have the same doubts. The recipe looks delicious, by the way!

    -Emily T

    Reply
  • 25. ashley  |  May 15, 2011 at 7:08 pm

    I absolutely love tapioca and this one looks amazing! Also, changing your path can be scary, but you are a great writer and I hope you enjoy your new major.

    Reply
  • 26. Jasmine  |  May 15, 2011 at 11:43 pm

    I absolutely love the photos that accompany every recipe. Thanks for the posts!

    Reply
  • 27. S.  |  May 16, 2011 at 9:55 pm

    I’m a graduating senior in high school and though I still have a couple months before I really begin to experience college life, I can definitely relate to the terror that comes with choosing a major. Unlike you I never really put much thought into what I wanted to learn, I just figured that when the time was right, I would just know. Unfortunately for me, that time never came. So instead I scrambled through every possible major I could think of until I came to one that I could live with. Though I have never taken any classes that relate to this major so I’m still not entirely sure if it’s the right one for me. It used to terrify me, but now I embrace it and even looks forward to exploring my options and seeing where life takes me!

    Reply
  • 28. Rawr: I'm a dinosaur  |  May 17, 2011 at 2:28 am

    It was so good! Omnomnomnom! almost made me not want to eat triceratops and other delectable dinosaurs that work at disneyland

    sincerely,
    your dinosaur friend

    Reply
  • 29. Lorraine - Seattle Portrait & Wedding Photographer  |  May 30, 2011 at 4:39 pm

    I love the way you capture the experience of food – both in beautiful images and in the written word. Now I have to find the recipe you mentioned, because this tapioca pudding looks great!

    Reply
  • 30. Claudia  |  May 31, 2011 at 9:06 pm

    Yes, tapioca from Brazil. I love it.

    Reply
  • 31. sadie  |  June 5, 2011 at 2:11 pm

    you know, i majored in romantic literature with a minor in family studies…go writing! stick to your dreams and PLEASE keep blogging – you inspire me all the time to bake something new!

    Reply
  • 32. 1835-B  |  June 12, 2011 at 3:18 am

    Switching majors…something every college student does, and then after graduating, its interesting to see what people are doing that’s NOT related to their major. :)

    However this blog is obviously a passion of yours and I don’t see that happening to you; this really is your “column.”

    Reply
  • 33. Maja  |  July 29, 2011 at 12:36 pm

    Your post inspired me to try tapioca for the first time, it’s pretty unknown food here where i live. I made mine with muscovado and caramelized bananas :)

    Reply
  • [...] Raspberry Honey Tapioca is right up my alley.  The combination of all 3 of these ingredients sound over the top refreshing.  Grab the recipe from Elissa at Seventeen and Baking. [...]

    Reply
  • [...] En attendant, je vous donne une traduction d’une recette que j’ai trouvé sur ce blog. Le lien de la recette originale avant toute chose. Et ma traduction maintenant. Enjoy [...]

    Reply
  • 36. foodfaithandfinds  |  October 13, 2011 at 6:59 pm

    Dear Elissa, I’ve just recently started reading your blog (which I love), but when I got to this post, I felt I had to share something with you. I started college with the major that I’d had planned since I was little. At the end of my freshman year I was told that I should change or I wouldn’t make it through the next year. I was completely devastated and had no idea what to do. I changed my major to something similar that I’d never even thought about before (and looking back I can only say that the thought must’ve been from God). The change caused me to have to stay an extra year (during which I met my now husband). I also ended up getting a Masters in my new field. I’m sure you’ve started your new semester with your new major, but I thought you might like to hear from someone who’s was there already. It does work out in so many ways. For me, that was almost 10 years ago, and it was one of the best things that ever happened to me. I hope you’re having a great year!

    Reply
  • [...] this is again simple to make and can be served either hot or cold.  I found this recipe on 17 And Baking, but it originally comes from Heidi Swanson’s Super Natural Everyday [...]

    Reply
  • 38. Rites of Beauty  |  November 22, 2011 at 2:41 am

    This looks incredible!

    Reply
  • 39. desiree  |  December 6, 2011 at 10:09 pm

    I can’t stay here, way too much blathering, and the pics aren’t even helpful towards the end dish.

    Reply
  • 40. Mellie  |  February 10, 2012 at 5:06 pm

    Couldn’t help but reply, since 1) I’m a huge fan of honey and tapioca pudding and 2) I just graduated with my degree in a major different from what I originally set out to do as a freshman as well (I went from art studio to astrophysics). I, too, would get that feeling of dread in the pit of my stomach when I headed to a drawing class – what I used to love started to lose the glamour and magic it had in high school. Switching was scary and a hard road to travel, but it was worth it.

    Your writing is wonderful and the photos are gorgeous – I think you’ve definitely made a good choice. You’re totally doing it right – going with your gut. And after all that work getting your degree? You’ll probably get out into the real world and find all sorts of jobs that you didn’t think you’d originally use it for, and many times it may be for the best!

    Good luck in Europe and with your new path!

    Reply
  • 41. pareesha  |  February 28, 2012 at 6:37 pm

    The beginning of your story really resonated with me. I graduated with my degree in journalism and am still figuring out what I want to do! Good luck with everything. I’ll be following your blog! Check out mine when you get a chance: itsallfoodlove.blogspot.com.

    Reply
  • 42. Emily @ I Love Farm Weddings  |  March 6, 2012 at 10:10 am

    I love your story and I love that you’re following what you love! And on a side note – your photos of your pudding are beautiful! I shared one of them today on my blog here: http://www.ilovefarmweddings.com/2012/03/06/farm-inspiration-pudding-for-dessert/

    Thanks for the recipe on such a yummy dessert! Good luck in all of your adventures!
    Emily

    Reply
  • [...] image via 17 and baking [...]

    Reply
  • 44. Messy Nessy Chic FOOD P0RN: Sizzling Summer Recipes  |  July 3, 2012 at 9:50 am

    [...] Tea BobaRecipe here:::Watermelon Jell-ORecipe here:::Rasberry & Honey TapioccaRecipe here:::Blackberry Lime BarsRecipe here::: Brownie Fruit KebabsRecipe here:::  Apricot Lavander [...]

    Reply
  • 45. Andrea  |  December 4, 2012 at 4:25 pm

    Oooh good lord! Give us the recipe already! This is the most ridiculous, humourless and overly sweet story I’ve read in my life. When you decided to stop journalism, you should’ve just said goodbye to writing altogether, and started working in an elderly home. Lemon zest flurry my ass.

    Reply
  • [...] En attendant, je vous donne une traduction d’une recette que j’ai trouvé sur ce blog. Le lien de la recette originale avant toute chose. Et ma traduction maintenant. Enjoy [...]

    Reply
  • 47. Alexis  |  August 20, 2013 at 10:35 pm

    I rarely read blogs that I get recipes from but for some reason yours piqued my interest. That said, I just wanted to let you know that you are a good writer and I’m glad you found your calling!

    Reply
  • 48. Christian Z. (@ocmexfood)  |  February 17, 2014 at 8:42 pm

    Just cooked some up. Waiting for it to chill:

    Making Raspberry Honey Tapioca

    Reply
  • 49. เครปเค้ก  |  June 7, 2014 at 5:00 pm

    I’m not sure where you are getting your info, but great topic.

    I needs to spend some time learning more or understanding more.
    Thanks for excellent information I was looking for this information for my mission.

    Reply
  • 50. Carol  |  July 10, 2014 at 7:32 am

    Very much enjoyed reading your intimate thoughts and experiences on your writing journey. Thank you for opening your heart to us all – it is a gift! So glad to see that you did take the turn in the road! Many of us have bumps in the road that propel us down different avenues than we thought we’d be taking. But “the road less travelled” is always the right one in the end. God bless, Carol

    Reply
  • 51. A Little Peace & Quiet | Suburban Sunflower  |  August 4, 2014 at 11:38 am

    […] Recipe courtesy of 17 and Baking […]

    Reply

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Elissa Bernstein



I'm Elissa: a 17 (now 21) year old baker in Seattle Boston juggling creative nonfiction workshops, subway maps, and my passions for writing, baking, and photography. Photo above © Michelle Moore

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