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Fruit-on-the-Bottom Tapioca Pudding

['2 cups water', '1/3 cup small tapioca pearls', '1 cup heavy cream', '6 tablespoons sugar, divided', '1 teaspoon fennel seeds', '1 quart strawberries, trimmed and coarsely chopped', 'Equipment: an electric coffee/spice grinder or a mortar and pestle']

Bring water to a boil in a 1-quart heavy saucepan. Whisk in tapioca and simmer, uncovered, whisking occasionally, until tapioca is mostly opaque, about 15 minutes. Whisk in cream, 1/4 cup sugar, and 1/8 teaspoon salt and simmer, uncovered, whisking occasionally, until tapioca is cooked through, about 3 minutes. Transfer to a metal bowl and cool completely in an ice bath, stirring frequently, 5 to 10 minutes.
Meanwhile, grind fennel seeds in grinder. Pulse strawberries in a food processor with fennel and remaining 2 tablespoons sugar until coarsely puréed. Divide among (6-ounce) glasses.
Spoon tapioca over strawberries. Chill until cold, about 15 minutes.

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