Hundred-Year-Old Maple Walnut Tapioca Pudding Recipe

maple walnut tapioca pudding

Sometimes I’m amazed how long some products have been around. I recently was browsing through a hundred-year-old magazine and was stopped in my tracks when I saw an advertisement for Minute Tapioca.

Minute Gelatine 5 1916
Source: Ladies Home Journal (May, 1916)

I did a little research and discovered that Minute Tapioca has been sold in the U.S. since 1894. By 1916 it was widely available throughout the country.

The old ad was chock full of old tapioca recipes. A recipe for Maple Walnut Tapioca particularly intrigued me, so I decided to give it a try.

Source: Ladies Home Journal (May, 1916)

Tapioca pudding  is a little tricky to make because it requires lots of stirring while cooking prevent burning, but it’s well worth the effort. This classic recipe is delightful with a hint of caramel which blends perfectly with the crunchy walnuts.

Here’s the recipe updated for modern cooks:

Maple Walnut Tapioca Pudding

  • Servings: 3 - 4
  • Difficulty: moderate
  • Print

2 cups milk

3 tablespoons minute tapioca

2 egg yolks

1/8 teaspoon salt

1/3 – 2/3 cup maple syrup (sweeten to taste)

1/2 cup chopped walnuts

walnut halves for garnish (optional)

whipped cream (optional)

Heat milk in a saucepan using medium heat while stirring continuously until it begins to steam. Stir in the tapioca, and cook for 15 minutes while continuing to stir continuously.  Midway through the cooking time, the mixture will begin to boil. When this occurs reduce heat so that there is a very slow rolling boil; continue to stir constantly. Remove from heat at the end of the 15 minutes.

Place a small amount (approximately 1 – 2 tablespoons) of the hot mixture into a small bowl with the beaten egg yolks and salt, and quickly stir. Then add the egg mixture to the tapioca, and return to medium heat and cook for an additional 3 minutes while stirring constantly. (The egg is first combined with a little of the hot mixture to prevent it from turning into scrambled eggs when introduced into the hot combination.)

Remove from heat, and cool in the refrigerator, then stir in the maple syrup. If the maple syrup does not readily mix with the tapioca mixture, beat a few seconds until combined (I used an electric mixer); then stir in the chopped walnuts.

If desired, may be garnished with walnut halves or whipped cream.

73 thoughts on “Hundred-Year-Old Maple Walnut Tapioca Pudding Recipe

  1. Love tapioca pudding! I would have never quested that the minute tapioca would have been around that long. (garnish with walnuts or whipping cream) … Why not both. 🙂

    1. I thought about garnishing with both – and then decided that might be healthier if I skipped the cream (and I realized that I’d forgotten to buy cream at the store). 🙂

    1. Why are all the tasty foods not good for us? I’m probably trying justifying eating this dessert . . .but . . . At least it’s made with maple syrup and maybe that’s just a tad bit healthier than sugar. 🙂

    1. This is a recipe that I really struggled with how closely to follow the original directions. I agree with you that there are ways to reduce the cooking time -which would make it less likely for the tapioca on the bottom to the pan to scorch if not stirred carefully. I considered revising the recipe to more closely follow the directions on the modern Minute Tapioca box- but in the end I stuck with the basic directions in the original recipe.

        1. Comment to other readers: If you are reading this string of comments and decide to make this recipe, you may want to consider following Ronit’s suggestion (or the directions on the Minute Tapioca box). And, if you experiment with cooking times, soaking, etc. – it would be wonderful if you could let us know how it turned out. I know others who may want to make this recipe in the future would appreciate hearing about what you learn.

  2. I haven’t had tapioca in years either–all I really remember is the weird mouth-feel. The flavors in this recipe are ones I love so maybe I should try again–the walnuts would change the consistency . . .

    1. You should give it a try. I’ve made several tapioca recipes over the years that I’ve done this blog (though this is the first one with Minute Tapioca), and I’ve been pleasantly surprised by how much I like it. I actually find the texture of the tapioca pearls to be a pleasant taste sensation. I think that the rise in popularity of Bubble Tea has taught me to appreciate tapioca. 🙂

    1. The dessert has a textured maple flavor, and the walnuts add a lovely nuttiness and crunch – but if you don’t like tapioca this may not be the recipe for you. 🙂

  3. I don’t like the pearl tapioca at all, so I use the other kind. Actually, I’d call this one an easy (even super easy) recipe. It was one of the first things I learned to cook, and I still like it.

    As for the sugar — I don’t worry about it one bit. I keep thinking about the fact that, despite the puddings, cakes, pies, cinnamon rolls, etc. etc. that we consumed “back in the day,” there were very few overweight people. Of course, we were far more active — we walked to school, for example. In grade school, we had a half-hour of recess, morning and afternoon — with plenty of free play, including dodge ball, monkey bars, and tag. We rode bikes as we pleased, and roller skated. And our parents? Busy all the time. It made a difference.

    Ok. I’ll be quiet now. 🙂

    1. No need to be quiet – I enjoyed reading your comment. I also find it fascinating how much sugar (or in this case maple syrup) is called for in many old recipes. They definitely didn’t seem to worry as much about eating sugar as we do. I agree that people exercised more back then, so that probably is one reason sugar was less of a concern. Of course they didn’t have high fructose corn syrup back then (though they had Karo-type syrups), so maybe that is part of the difference across the years. I also think that people may have sometimes eaten very sweet foods-but had smaller servings back then. When I make hundred-year-old candy recipes, I’m sometimes amazed by how sweet some of the candies are – but people may have only eaten a piece or two at a time.

      1. That’s exactly right — serving portions were much smaller, all around. Even main courses were smaller. What we call dinner plates these days were serving platters back then!

  4. When I was growing up, my mother made a mean cherry pie, and she always insisted on using tapioca as a thickener. I’m not sure if it made a difference, but I certainly wasn’t going to mess with her recipe!

    1. My mother also always used tapioca when she made cherry pies. I was just thinking about this yesterday – and couldn’t remember how much tapioca she used or exactly how she incorporated the tapioca into the pie. It’s good to know that both of our mothers used tapioca. I may have to search for a tapioca cherry pie recipe – though it may not be from the right time period for this blog. 🙂

  5. I’m sure I’ll be missing out, but I can’t, I just can’t make this. Too many unhappy memories of British school dinners featuring tapioca pudding, England c. 1958. In fact so many of us loathed it, I doubt if I could buy tapioca anywhere.

    1. Your comment made me smile. I have similar memories of not liking tapioca when I was a child. It’s interesting how some foods that were popular in one era, are very unpopular in the next – and then may (or may not) become a food that people enjoy in an even later time period.

  6. You read my mind! I’ve been craving tapioca pudding lately all of a sudden. I haven’t had it in years, but my Mom used to make it all the time when I was little. The addition of maple syrup and walnuts sounds really neat!

  7. I’ve always had an aversion to tapioca (kind of like rhubarb and beets and lima beans), but the maple and walnut part sounds amazing, so maybe a rice pudding version? But then why do I like boba tea and not tapioca? Thinking aloud, I guess . . . . Happy 4th, Sheryl!

    1. I don’t know much about it – but I’ve read a little about food psychology and I find it absolutely fascinating. It’s interesting to think about why we like one food but not another – and how those preferences may change over time. Have a happy 4th, Luanne!

  8. This sounds rich and tasty. I haven’t had tapioca in decades. I really liked it in my youth. I had a relative that made it. I didn’t realize that it was sold in boxes like this. I’m going to put it on my grocery list and see if our local store carries it.
    I hope your 4th was a happy one. 🙂

    1. In the store where I shop tapioca is in the same general area as pudding mixes. I had a lovely 4th. I hope that you also had a happy one. 🙂

  9. I discovered Minute Tapioca during my college days after I moved into my first apartment. I loved it–never had it prior to then as it was never served in our house. I have not made it in years, though I occasionaly buy one pre-made at the store. The little pearls were part of the reason I liked it–love texture in my food! And, I love the beautiful bowl you have it in!

    1. The bowl is part of a set of vintage dessert dishes that I have. I also think it is lovely – though it probably isn’t a hundred years old. I’m guessing that it’s from the 1950s.

  10. Love this post. It brought me right back into my mother’s yellow kitchen with freshly starched white and yellow curtains. My mother’s success with tapioca pudding was like clockwork. She never missed and it was always rightly done.. I always missed here and there, and it is never perfect. Mr. and I taught all of our children how to make Tapioca Pudding and we taught them by having Tapioca Pudding making contests. They had lots of ideas to help us win. I never won, my husband follows the recipe and I miss here and there. Still there was never any pudding from both batches left for the next day!
    Sheila

  11. We were just talking about tapioca the other day. I have a box of Minute Tapioca on the shelf but nobody likes it but me, I haven’t made any. Maybe I should give it a try. I could eat one recipe in a couple of days. 🙂

    1. You shouldn’t let that Tapioca go to waste. 🙂 I think that you’d enjoy this recipe. I was surprised how quickly this pudding vanished at my house.

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