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.
● 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.