Top | Puddings, Custards, and Other Dairy Desserts

Berry Tapioca Fool

(recipe, Caroline Cummins)

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Adapted from a Gourmet magazine recipe, this light summertime dessert is basically custard with puréed berries.


    1. 2 cups water
    2. ⅓ cup small tapioca pearls (not instant or quick-cooking)
    3. ⅛ tsp. salt
    4. ¼ cup sugar
    5. 1 egg, beaten
    6. 1 cup heavy cream
    7. ½ tsp. vanilla extract
    1. 1 tsp. fennel seeds
    2. ⅛ tsp. ground cardamom
    3. 2 Tbsp. sugar
    4. 1 qt. fresh summertime berries (strawberries, blueberries, etc.), washed and trimmed (see Note)


    1. Bring the water to a boil in a heavy-bottomed saucepan. Whisk in the tapioca pearls and simmer, uncovered, whisking occasionally, until the tapioca pearls are mostly opaque, about 15 minutes. Whisk in the salt, sugar, egg, and cream and simmer, uncovered, whisking occasionally, until the tapioca pearls are cooked through and the mixture has thickened, about 6 minutes. Whisk in the vanilla extract. Pour into a bowl or container, cover, and set in the fridge to cool, about 1 hour.
    2. Meanwhile, put the fennel seeds, cardamom, sugar, and berries into a blender or food processor and purée to a smooth consistency. Store in the fridge until ready to serve.
    3. When ready to serve, you can either pass the two dishes of pudding and berries around, letting guests help themselves, or arrange alternating layers of each in dessert glasses. Hand around spoons and enjoy.


    Culinate editor's note: You can replace the berries called for in this recipe with gooseberries. Slice the tops and tails off the gooseberries and halve the berries lengthwise, then cook them down with a little sugar to taste for about 20 minutes. Chill the purée before serving it with the custard.