Tapioca pearls, or sagu, are a popular ingredient in Brazilian desserts, added to pudding and cake recipes and often consumed with coconut and condensed milk. You can find them in the international cooking aisle of large supermarkets, or Asian grocers.






Skill level

Average: 3.3 (5 votes)


  • 830 ml (3⅓ cups) milk
  • ¼ cup butter
  • ½ vanilla bean, split lengthways, seeds scraped
  • 1 cup tapioca pearls
  • 180 ml (¾ cup) coconut milk
  • 50 g (¾ cup) shredded coconut
  • 150 g (⅔ cup) sugar
  • 395 g can condensed milk
  • 4 eggs
  • chopped Brazil nuts, to serve


  • 150 g (⅔ cup) sugar
  • 160 ml (⅔ cup) water

Cook's notes

Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.


Resting time 40 minutes

Chilling time 15 minutes

Preheat the oven to 170˚C. Place milk, butter and vanilla bean in a medium saucepan. Bring to the boil.

Combine tapioca pearls, coconut milk, shredded coconut and sugar in a medium bowl. Add boiling milk mixture and stir to combine. Cover and rest for 40 minutes.

In a separate bowl, combine condensed milk and eggs. Add to tapioca mixture.

To make the caramel, combine sugar and water in a small saucepan over medium heat. Simmer until a light brown colour. If it becomes too thick, add a little more water.

Pour caramel into the base of a medium baking dish (see Note). Carefully spoon over the pudding mixture, discarding vanilla bean. Transfer baking dish to a roasting pan and add enough boiling water to pan to come halfway up sides of baking dish. Cover pan with foil and bake for 40 minutes. Chill for 15 minutes.

To serve, invert dish onto a plate. Garnish with chopped Brazil nuts.



• You can use a medium baking dish or several smaller ramekins, depending on how you prefer to serve the dessert.