Low Sugar Mocha Tapioca

Tapioca pudding is such a classic “comfort dessert.”  But since some members of my family have sugar-restricted diets, I developed this version. I removed the refined sugar, added some dark chocolate, and now everyone loves it – even my sugar-eaters! A touch of espresso and a bit of vanilla delivers a lovely mocha flavor.

This recipe has been in development for a while – actually, I find that converting most dessert recipes to a low-sugar or no-sugar version requires a fair amount of tweaking. In developing this recipe, I tried both instant tapioca and regular pearl tapioca. I tested unsweetened cocoa powder and unsweetened chocolate bars. I tried low-fat milk as well as heavy cream.  After all the testing, I found that a high-cacao bittersweet chocolate, combined with a mixture of milk and and half and half, yields the nicest flavor and texture.

I love serving Mocha Tapioca in small glass coffee mugs or demitasse cups with a dollop of sweetened whipped cream on top!


  • 1  3.5 oz dark (72% to 85% cocoa) chocolate bar  (See recipe notes below)
  • 3 Tablespoons instant tapioca
  • 6 Tablespoons Splenda
  • 2 teaspoons instant espresso powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups whole milk
  • 1 cup half and half
  • 1 large to jumbo egg, beaten well
  • 1 generous teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 Tablespoon butter

Optional Whipped Topping:

  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1 – 2 Tablespoons Splenda

To make the pudding:

1. Chop the chocolate bar into small pieces and place them in a 2 quart saucepan.

2. Add the tapioca, Splenda, espresso powder, salt, milk, half and half, and the beaten egg to the chopped chocolate.

3. Stir the ingredients together with a whisk and let the mixture sit for 5 minutes. Don’t let it sit any longer than 5 minutes, though, because the tapioca will begin to dissolve. That won’t really harm the pudding, but you won’t be able to taste those lovely little bits of tapioca!

4. Place the saucepan over low-to-medium heat. Do not try to speed up the process by using higher heat!

5. Let the pudding slowly heat until just to the boiling point, stirring with the whisk frequently so the mixture doesn’t stick to the bottom of the pan. Don’t cook the mixture any longer than it takes to reach the boiling point – longer cooking will result in an unpleasant, grainy texture.

6. Remove the pudding from the heat just when it comes to a boil.

7. Stir in the vanilla and butter.

8. Pour the pudding into 6 to 8 serving dishes (or one large 8 cup serving bowl).

9. Let the pudding cool to room temperature and then chill it in the refrigerator for two to three hours.

To make the whipped topping:

Tip: To make great whipped cream, make sure your bowl, beaters, and cream are all cold. I chill my utensils in the refrigerator for about 30 minutes before I make whipped cream.

1. Pour the cream into a mixing bowl. Stir in the Splenda.

2. Beat the cream on high speed for 5-8 minutes, scraping the sides of the bowl down regularly. When the mixture forms firm peaks when you remove the beaters, your topping is ready.

Recipe Notes:

– These brands of super-dark chocolate deliver great flavor:

– This recipe makes 6-8 servings. Depending on which chocolate you use, each half-cup serving will contain between 2 to 4 grams of sugar.

– If you use an 85% cacao bar, you might want to add an extra Tablespoon of Splenda to the recipe to balance its flavor.

– The recipe can easily be cut in half if you like. Just use a small to medium egg instead of a large or jumbo one.

– Desserts made with Splenda tend to have a shorter shelf life, so I suggest eating your Mocha Tapioca within two to three days. (In my house, it’s usually gobbled up long before then!)

Pam Harris writes Gingerbread Snowflakes, a blog about crafts, cooking, and other seasonal celebrations. Her new ebook, (Not So) Sweets is just out from CraftyPod Publishing (…Which is apropos – she’s also Sister Diane‘s Mom!)


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