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The proof is in the pudding

Let’s talk about rice pudding. A year ago, the mere mention of rice pudding would make me nauseous. Seriously. Globs of rice cooked with milk? No thanks. Toss in coconut milk and you’d have to stop me from gagging. I’d rather have plain ole chocolate pudding.

But oh my, what a difference a year can make. My tune has successfully changed and I can say that I, former rice-pudding-hater, am a hardcore fan. I don’t know why I ever doubted the power of pudding but I won’t be making that mistake ever again.

Rice pudding is made up of some very simply ingredients: rice, sugar, and liquid. Easy, right? Well, nailing this recipe can be quite difficult. Most of the time, when I have encountered rice pudding, it has reminded me of baby food. Too gooey, too soft. Yuck. The key to a great rice pudding lies in its texture. The rice should not be grain-hard, but not creamed-corn-soft. You get me?

I scoured far and wide for a basic and tasty rice pudding recipe. Dorie always knows best and I should’ve known that the master of all books, Baking: From My Home to Yours would hold the recipe I was yearning for. But I wanted to give the pudding a more exotic flavor. After seeing Lisa’s Creamy Coconut Cardamom Rice Pudding, I knew that I wanted to head in the same direction so I tweaked Dorie’s recipe to fit my coconut craving. I made this recipe the first time back in September, before the Tuesdays with Dorie Bakers made it and they discovered a mistake in the original recipe. Apparently the rice is supposed to be cooked and simmered for longer than 30 minutes, but I quickly figured this out for myself after noticing that my rice was still firm after 30 minutes. Ten more minutes on the stove, and the rice had broken down to a wonderfully soft texture. Instead of using pricey Arborio rice ( seriously, 6 bucks a bag!) I subbed jasmine rice and thought that it worked well with the coconut milk. I also added in some raisins because… Well, I liked them, that’s why. If you don’t like raisins, I don’t know if we can be friends.

I don’t know why I ever avoided rice pudding because I literally melted the minute I tried this recipe. It reminded me of a more decadent version of oatmeal, which might turn you off, but if you are a diehard oatmeal lover like me, it turns you on. Seriously, every morning, me and my oatmeal have a date and it’s a glorious affair… Next time, I think I will try Lisa’s recipe from The Sweet Life because it seems to produce a thicker, more custard-like pudding. This recipe works really well as a basic staple for rice pudding, but it could be improved. I noticed that some people have used chocolate in the recipe and that REALLY intrigues me. It’d be like chocolate soup! I’m down for that any day :)

Need more inspiration? Check out Cafe Fernando’s Lavender Rice Pudding, and Joy’s Vanilla Bean Rice Pudding. If you really want to try something new, check out Celine’s Molta Cioccolata Tapioca Pudding. That should get your motor running.

Coconut Rice Pudding
Adapted from: Baking: From My Home To Yours by Dorie Greenspan
Yield: 4 servings
Cooking Time: 40 minutes
Inactive Prep Time: 6 hours

● 1/4 cup Arborio rice
● 2 cups water
● 2 1/4 cups unsweetened coconut milk
● 1 cup whole milk
● 1/4 cup sugar
● 1 tbsp vanilla extract
● 3 ounces raisins (or your choice of dried fruit. Apricots or cranberries would be really good here.)

Put the rice and water in a heavy-bottomed saucepan and bring to a boil. Lower the temperature and cook the rice, uncovered, for 10 minutes. Drain the rice in a strainer and rinse it; set aside.
Rinse out the saucepan, then pour in the whole milk and coconut milk, stir in the sugar, and set the pan over medium heat. When the milk mixture boils, stir in the parboiled rice and raisins. Reduce the heat to low and let the mixture bubble away gently, stirring occasionally, for about 30 minutes. As the pudding gets close to done, the rice kernels will be visible in the boiling milk- you’ll see them floating under the top layer of milk. The pudding won’t be thick- that’s okay (it will thicken in the refrigerator)- but the rice will be soft and it will have absorbed 80 to 90 percent of the milk.
Remove the pan from the heat and decide what flavor you’d like the pudding to be- add either the vanilla or chocolate and stir gently until it is fully blended in to the pudding.
Pour the pudding into a serving bowl or into individual cups or bowls. Press plastic wrap against the surface of the pudding to prevent it from forming a skin, and refrigerate for at least 6 hours, until thoroughly cold.

Printable Recipe here.

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January 19, 2009 - 12:01 am

snooky doodle - you made feel like trying your pudding after reading your post and usually i m not interested in rice puddings. how do you prepare oatmeal ?

January 19, 2009 - 4:14 am

Jennifer - I love rice pudding, and especially that you used coconut milk in place of regular milk! Delicious!

January 19, 2009 - 7:49 am

Ozge - hi amanda!
this rice pudding looks delish, but i too wonder how you prepare oatmeal, as i too am an oatmeal freak :)

January 19, 2009 - 9:40 am

sweetbird - I love rice pudding. I’ve been tossing around the idea of making it with coconut milk for a while, but wasn’t sure how it would turn out – now I know! And it looks lovely!

January 19, 2009 - 9:51 am

ziabaki - Love your pictures! I love coconut rice pudding. I ate a lot of it when I was living in the islands. We added pure dried coconut and of course, macadamia nuts. Hummmmmmm, takes me back. I’ll have to make some.
Dana Zia

January 19, 2009 - 11:50 am

kickpleat - i make a very similar rice pudding! i always thought i had a hate-on for rice pudding, but when i tried it a few years ago, i discovered i loved it!

January 19, 2009 - 1:10 pm

Maris - I’m not big on rice pudding but your photos make me wish I liked it!

January 19, 2009 - 3:04 pm

Megan - Dorie’s Baking: From My Home to Yours has got to be the best dessert cookbook ever written, recipes and photos included! I love my morning bowl of oatmeal with coffee so rice pudding is sure to be a hit with me. I’ll definitely have to try it with some dried cranberries and golden raisins :)

January 19, 2009 - 5:36 pm

Tara - I love ride pudding! You should try Barefoot Contessa’s recipe, it’s fantastic! She soaks the raisins in rum and it is sooo good!

January 19, 2009 - 7:25 pm

Syrie - Glad you came around. I LOVE rice pudding and yours looks perfect. I like mine with pistachios and cardamom.

January 20, 2009 - 2:45 am

gine - lol :-) … I’m too one of the people that like ricepudding :P … and I love your pics, looks delicious! You should try ricepudding with fresh strawberries and cinnamon in summer .. yummy! By the way I often use “Dories baking” too, great book!

January 26, 2009 - 7:32 am

hebr23 - brilliant photog and recipes, per usual. launched my own food blog earlier this week – daunting and addicting! would love for you to drop over!



September 14, 2009 - 5:06 pm

immar - As a kid this was my favourite dessert. I still loooove it. Though mom never put coconut milk in it. But a cinnamon stick does wonders! (And leaves that perfect smell throughout the house.)

December 19, 2010 - 9:18 pm

Crazy for You Coconut Rice Pudding « The Little Baker SF - [...] recipe (an adapted Dorie Greenspan courtesy of Slow Like Honey) is actually incredible. I think it’s because most of the “cooking” is actually [...]

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