Depends on the recipe, but basically tapioca and milk.
One of my favorite desserts growing up was tapioca pudding. You don't see it that much anymore. Kids get pre-made over-sugared puddings from the grocery store. My parents don't make it that often as it requires too much (for them) careful stirring while the tapioca cooks. And you won't find tapioca on any low-carb diets as it is pure starch, from the same plant as cassava. Yet tapioca pudding is one of those comfort foods that conjures up happy childhood memories. It is actually really easy to make.
1/2 cup small pearl tapioca (it comes in a box, we use Island Tapioca brand)
3 cups whole milk (or skim milk with cream added)
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup of sugar
1/2 teaspoon of vanilla
Combine tapioca, milk, and salt in 1 1/2 quart pan on medium high heat. Stir until boiling. Simmer 5 minutes, uncovered at the lowest possible heat, adding sugar gradually. Beat eggs in a separate bowl. Mix in some of the hot tapioca very slowly to equalize the temperature of the two mixtures (to avoid curdling). Return eggs to pan with tapioca. Bring to a boil. Stir 3 minutes more over lowest possible heat. Stir constantly. You may cook a little longer than 3 minutes if needed to get to a nice thick pudding consistency. Cool 15 minutes. Add vanilla. Serve either warm or chilled.
If you want to make a more light and fluffy, but still rich, tapioca pudding, separate the eggs. Use the egg yolks to stir in first to the pan with the tapioca. Once the pudding has become nice and thick, beat the egg whites in a separate bowl to soft peaks. Remove the pan of tapioca pudding from the stove, fold in the beaten egg whites into the pudding.
Also, it pays to check the instructions on the box or bag of tapioca pearls that you have. The Island Tapioca I used in this recipe doesn't require that you soak the tapioca pearls before cooking. Another brand that I have used requires that you soak the pearls overnight.
My mother made it often, when I was growing up. It was always a welcomed delicious treat. Yum!
Creamy Orange Tapioca Pudding Recipe
This is very creamy, very smooth and very tasty. Makes a nice light dessert after a heavy meal.
1/4 cup sugar
2 tablespoons quick-cooking tapioca
1-1/4 cup orange juice
1-1/4 cup frozen whipped topping thawed
4 maraschino cherries
Mix sugar, tapioca and orange juice in saucepan then let stand 5 minutes.
Heat to boiling over medium high heat stirring constantly then remove from heat and cool.
Stir tapioca mixture with rubber scraper then fold in 1 cup of the whipped topping.
Divide tapioca mixture into 4 dessert dishes.
Top each serving with a spoonful of remaining whipped topping and 1 maraschino cherry