December 13th, 2009


Tamarind Pears with Creamed Tapioca and Toffee Pear Lollipops

It’s incredible how certain foods have certain meanings for different people. For example I like tapioca, it reminds me of my Mum, Sundays and happy family time spent together, whereas  if I say tapioca to some people they will go eek!  and exclaim ‘badly cooked school dinners’. This is why I find food and cooking so incredibly fascinating, stimulating and subjective all at the same time. The emotional attachment that we have towards it is extraordinary; we depend on food to stay alive but then food equals memories, love and life, fascinating stuff. When I was at school in South Africa we did not get school dinners, so my mum had to make me a packed lunch and I remember her butter sandwiches, my favourite. No one wanted to swap sarnies with me but then I was a real madam and did not like most things and most probably would not have liked the other kids sarnies in any case.

I remember us calling tapioca frogs eggs and mum used it as a thickener when she made chicken pie. Interestingly  I have never come across it here in England. She soaked the tapioca in cold water overnight and then when she cooked the chicken pie filling added the soaked tapioca to thicken the mixture. I remember how I tried to select the individual balls, much to my mums horror, but I obviously played with my food. But you know, that’s a benefit you get when playing with your food because if I hadn’t, I would probably not have remembered it now. The point is let your kids play with their food, its good for them, stimulates  the mind and all that.

The other dish mum used to make was baked tapioca pudding. She cooked the tapioca in milk and then folded in whipped egg whites and baked it in the oven, mmmm memories of the aroma of baking egg whites! I made a similar pudding a while ago called Souffle Orange and Tapioca Cream.


Tapioca is fairly neutral and will taste of whatever you flavour it with. The combination of cooking the tapioca with  vanilla and flavouring the pears with the tamarind makes this dish incredibly outstanding for textures and finely gauged flavour combinations, they work well together. The toffee pear lollipops with the wild sumac adds another dimension, crunch and earthy flavour. Unfortunately they do not keep for very long as the moisture in the pears dissolves the caramel. Make and serve the lollipops when needed however the rest of the dish can be prepared in advance.

This dish is one of four recipe using British Pears as the chosen seasonal ingredient for a article published in the Caterer and Hotelkeeper Magazine on the 16th October 2009.

Creamed Tapioca

  • 70g dry tapioca
  • 350ml full fat milk
  • 10g unsalted butter
  • Pinch of salt
  • Seeds form one vanilla pod
  • 2 large free-range egg yolks
  • 2 large free-range egg whites
  • 30g caster sugar
  • 2 gelatine leaves

Soak the tapioca in 5 times the same value of cold water over night.

Rinse the tapioca under cold running water and transfer to the themomix bowl. Add the butter, vanilla seeds, salt and milk. Set the timer to 10 minutes at 90°C speed 3 reverse blade setting.

Rest the cooked tapioca for 5 minutes in the thermomix bowl with the lid on.

Whisk the yolks and sugar until pale in colour, add to the cooked tapioca mixture, return to the machine. Set the timer for 10 minutes at 70°C speed 3 reverse blade setting.

Soak the gelatine in cold water until soft and wrinkly, squeeze to remove excess water, add to the cooked tapioca mixture and stir.

Whip the egg whites until soft peaks and fold into the cooked tapioca mixture.

Transfer the cooked mixture to the chosen serving glasses and fill them half way.

Set in the fridge.

Pear Espuma

  • 250g conference pears, peeled and core removed
  • 20g honey
  • 25ml cold water
  • 25g unsalted butter
  • 150ml Greek yoghurt

Peel, remove the core and cut the pears into small pieces.

Heat a medium saucepan with half the butter. Once the butter starts to bubble, add the pears and honey. Stir and cook for two minutes. Add the water, turn the heat down to a gentle simmer, cover with a lid and cook for 10 minutes, stir occasionally. Remove the saucepan from the heat, dice the rest of the cold butter and add to the cooked pears, whip until the butter dissolves.

Transfer the cooked pears to a blender and blend until smooth. Cool over rice.

Once the puree is completely cold whisk in the yoghurt and transfer the mixture to a clean cream whipper, charge with two gas pellets, shake vigorously and refrigerate until needed.

Tamarind Pears

  • 160g caster sugar
  • 4 tamarind pods
  • 200g cold water
  • Pod of the vanilla used earlier in the recipe
  • Juice of ½ lemon
  • 6 firm pears

Peel the tamarind pods and remove the strings.

Place the tamarind pulp, sugar, water and vanilla pod in a small saucepan. Dissolve the sugar over low heat, bring the syrup to the boil and simmer for 10 minutes until the tamarind has softened and dissolved.

Pass the pulp through a sieve ; add the lemon juice and whisk until smooth syrup, chill.

Peel the pears, and cut into 2cm barrels, slice each barrel into to 2mm thick slices. Work on 6 - 8 slices per glass.

Place the slices of pear into a clean vacuum bag and pour in the tamarind syrup, seal on hard vacuum. Let the pears macerate for 20 minutes before using.

Sumac Toffee Pears

  • 200g caster sugar
  • ¼ tsp wild sumac
  • 4 pears

Make a dry caramel by melting the sugar in a small saucepan over low heat, once dissolved add the sumac and increase the heat and boil the sugar until it becomes a rich caramel colour.

Prepare the pears by using a apple corer to cut long barrels, then cut each barrel into 2cm long pieces, skewer a cocktail stick into the one side of the barrel of pear.

Once the caramel reaches the correct colour place the pan over ice water to stop the caramel from colouring. Dip the pear lollipop into the caramel and shake to remove most of the caramel, to leave a thin coating of caramel.

Serve these toffee pears immediately. They will not keep and must be served immediately as the moisture of the fresh pear will dissolve the caramel.

Assembly of the dish

Open the tamarind pears and drain the sliced pears.

Place 6 – 8 slices on top of the set tapioca and pour on a teaspoon of the tamarind syrup.

Shake the cream whipper vigorously and squirt a small amount of pear espuma on the side of the tamarind pears and dust with a small pinch of wild sumac.

Serve immediately with the toffee pears.

Makes 12 pre-dessert portions

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11 Comments to “Tamarind Pears with Creamed Tapioca and Toffee Pear Lollipops”

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  1. Danielle says:

    Hi! Do you have a recipe for toffee sauce? Have searched your website extensively for this. Mine seems to chrystallise!!

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