2cupsmilk or plant milk, such as coconut (the kind for drinking), rice, oat, almond, or your favorite, more as needed, (16 ounces)
1/3cupsmall pearl tapioca balls
13.5ouncesfull-fat canned coconut milk
1/4teaspoonfine sea salt
1/2vanilla bean, split lengthwise and scraped, or 1/2 teaspoon vanilla paste or extract added with the chocolate
1/2cupbittersweet chocolate wafers, chips or chunks (I prefer around 70% cacao mass)
In a medium, heavy-bottomed saucepan, combine the tapioca balls and milk. Soak for at least 30 minutes (or up to overnight in the fridge).
Add the coconut milk, maple syrup, salt, and the vanilla bean pod and scrapings if using. Place over medium heat and, stirring constantly, bring to a bare simmer. Don't let the mixture boil, or it could curdle. Reduce the heat to low and cook, stirring and scraping the bottom of the pot frequently with a wooden spoon or heatproof silicone spatula, until the mixture thickens, 45 minutes to 1 hour. The pudding should be roughly the texture of gravy, with the tender tapioca balls suspended in the mixture rather than sinking to the bottom.
Remove from the heat, stir in the chocolate and vanilla paste or extract, if using. The pudding will be runny at this point, but it will thicken as it cools. Let cool to warm. Thin with more plant milk if you're serving this chilled; I usually add an additional 1/2 cup. Serve slightly warm, at room temperature, or chilled. Store in the fridge for up to 4 days.
Nutritional values are based on one of six servings.