Rice pudding is one of those desserts you either love or hate. I grew up eating it and love it in any shape or form-hot, warm, cold, wet, dry, baked, boiled, etc…I’ve tried every version I can get my hands on. I absolutely LOVE the version at SPQR-one of the best I’ve ever had. I’ll eat there as a means to dessert. In fact, I went once, enjoyed a simple lunch, and ordered the rice pudding for dessert. My face must have dropped on the bar when the server told me they didn’t have it that day because she disappeared with one of the cooks to ‘find’ a warm bowl of it just for me. Ahhhh….the best. It is served just warm and a bit wet, like perfect risotto really. Topped with tender fruit, pistachios, and house made bits of honeycomb…go and try it.
The version I made today is a very simple stovetop recipe. The rice is cooked twice-once in water until just tender and again in milk until creamy and plumped with the sweet custard. It makes for a perfect way to use leftover rice. I love vanilla my rice pudding so I took a few of my spent vanilla beans (having used the seeds and dried the pods) and whirled them in the food processor with the sugar to make vanilla sugar. I added a handful of raisins and some cinnamon just before the pudding was done but I think it would be great to just infuse it with a cinnamon stick and pull it out at the end. This recipe can be served cold, room temp, or warm…I love it warm but was making it in advance so we ate it at room temp. Simple and delicious.
Vanilla Cinnamon Rice Pudding
2 cups water
1 cup basmati rice, soaked in water for 1 hour and rinsed well
pinch of salt
4 cups whole milk
½ cup sugar processed with 1 vanilla bean pod (strain to remove any big vanilla bits)
1 cup raisins, dried cranberries, or dried cherries
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
Bring 2 cups of water and the salt to a boil. Stir in the basmati and return to a boil. Turn the heat to low and simmer the rice, covered, until all of the water is absorbed, about 15 minutes. Once the rice is cooked, fluff it with a fork and transfer it to a bowl (do not stir it with a spoon as you’ll break it up and get mushy rice). Wipe out the saucepan and add the milk and vanilla sugar. Bring to a simmer, stirring often so the milk doesn’t burn, cooking until the sugar has dissolved, 3-4 minutes. Add the cooked rice and, stirring often, cook until the milk reduces and the rice is creamy, 20-25 minutes. About 10 minutes into the cooking time, add the raisins and cinnamon. Transfer the pudding into individual serving dishes and serve warm or chill and serve cold or at room temperature. Serves 4-6