Well, I’ve neglected this blog for much too long. Now that Drake is sleeping slightly (emphasis on slightly) longer, it’s time to get writing. I’ve decided no topic is too small or too big to disqualify and as such, my next post will be about Hidden Bananas.
What are hidden bananas? Well, it’s Drake’s new name for a dessert I created this week. Like so many people, I have a solid sweet tooth, and also a solid guilt complex. Now that I have a child, it’s just not practical for me to be eating so much sugar, because then he wants it. Also, as a woman who lives with endometriosis and fibromyalgia, my addiction to baked goods often leads to painful cramping and inflammation. Add in the milk allergy that I ignore and hello headaches. How to get around this?
Hidden bananas was the answer this week.
Hidden bananas was an exploration in tapioca or sago as some call it. As a child, I only knew tapioca as that gross pudding my mom was always eating when we had chocolate or vanilla. I still don’t like traditional tapioca pudding…
After exploring the internet, I saw a common theme in asian cooking, using coconut milk as a base instead of cow’s milk. Score! We always have that in the house.
I soaked my small beads of tapioca for one hour, as the internet wisdom waffled between 15 minutes and overnight. After that, I rinsed them, drained, and added them to a pot of coconut milk and water that was brought to a swift boil. The internet was vague on this too. Most recipes called for 30 minutes on the stove. Mine was ready within 10 minutes. Just keep a close eye on it to make sure and keep stirring!! I checked by pulling up a spoonful and making sure the white center was gone.
In that coconut milk mix I added some muscavado sugar (dark brown sugar for us yanks), some of my homemade vanilla, and a pinch of salt.
After the tapioca looked cooked, I removed it from the stove and put it into an 8×8 pan to set up. Two hours later I tried it and it was…BLAND. Blech! No desire to put those fish eggs in my mouth.
What’s a girl to do? Big pot of bland tapioca, sweet tooth, kitchen full of options? Only one thing came to mind–CHOCOLATE 😀
So, I spooned out a serving, stirred in some Dutch processed cocoa powder and a dollop of runny honey. At this point I could have stopped, but I needed to make this a bit more toothsome to satisfy my craving. Hello banana.
This recipe actually ends up looking a bit nasty. Brownish muck with fish eggs and lumps of white goo. Drake took one look and told me he wanted a spoonful with the “hidden banana”. We’ve made it a game. He hunts out the banana slice he wants and that’s the spoonful he gets. In between, I shovel spoonfuls indiscriminately into my mouth. This stuff is ugly but it is delicious!
Next time I will add a bit of honey to the coconut milk instead of the muscavado sugar, which did nothing for me, and maybe add the cocoa powder at that stage too. We’ll see. For now I’m enjoying personalizing each portion.
For those of you adventurous types who would like to give this a try, here is a recipe to start with:
1 cup small tapioca pearls (sago)
1 can full fat coconut milk
2 cans water ( I used coconut milk can)
1/2 tsp salt
2 tsp vanilla extract
1/8 cup honey or more to taste
Soak tapioca pearls in 3 cups water for 1 hour. Rinse thoroughly and drain.
Whisk together coconut milk, water, vanilla, salt, and honey in a heavy bottomed pot over medium to medium high heat (depending on your stove/cooker). Add tapioca pearls and stir to combine.
Bring tapioca mixture to a rolling boil, whisking throughout. It’s ok to walk away for 30 seconds, but don’t push it, this is particularly important once the ingredients are boiling.
Once tapioca pearls are see-through and the white center is pretty much gone, remove from heat and pour the mixture into a heat proof dish. Allow to cool. I recommend storing this in the fridge as the flavor and texture are better the next day after chilling.
To serve, mix in cocoa powder, honey, and banana to taste. I use about 1/2 -1 tsp cocoa powder and 1 -2 tsp honey along with 1 banana for a 1 cup portion of tapioca mix. I’m not a calorie counter. If you are more of a small portion person, you will want to account for that in your mix ins.
I hope you enjoy this tasty vegetarian (not vegan) treat! Feel free to leave me suggestions for how you choose to revise this recipe as I’m always looking for variations on treats.