Monday, October 8, 2012

Creamy Rice Pudding

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Creamy rice pudding topped with toasted pumpkin seeds
Creamy rice pudding topped with toasted pumpkin seeds

Vanilla speckled rice pudding, warm and freshly made - click on the photo to see the larger view so that the specks are visible.   Rice pudding makes a fantastic snack, dessert, and even breakfast dish.  This is not the rice pudding you bake in the oven to use up leftovers you have on hand, instead it is made fresh on the stovetop sort of like a risotto.  Those speckles of vanilla bean are easier to get than you might think, and they don't require any splitting or scrapping of seeds.

Vanilla bean paste is the secret to the rich vanilla flavor and trademark bean speckles all for a fraction of the cost of vanilla beans.  Vanilla bean paste is scrapped vanilla bean seeds suspended in syrup.  I think the flavor is stronger and more true to fresh vanilla beans than vanilla extract and I like the convenience and price compared to getting whole beans and splitting them myself.  You can find it at Trader Joe's, Wholefoods, and other groceries or online for reasonable prices.  I do recommend shopping around some because the prices vary a lot.

Stovetop cooking with milk is always challenging for me since it tends to foam and boil over pretty easily.  I had the same problem when I first started making this rice pudding, I think primarily because I was trying to cook it with a lid on.  I finally gave up on that idea and just let it simmer on the stove uncovered.  When you are first bringing the mixture up to a boil you need to stir it often since the rice grains stick to the bottom of the pot until everything is hot.  As with most things made with milk, keep an eye on the pot with regular stirring to keep everything from scorching.

At the very end of the cooking you stir in your vanilla bean paste and sugar and serve immediately.  You can also refrigerate this and serve it cold too, but I prefer warm.  Topped with sliced banana, fresh berries, toasted pumpkin seeds, or even some granola for a bit of crunch are all delicious.

Creamy Rice Pudding
Fresh and warm, this rice pudding is creamy and delicious as a snack, for breakfast, or for dessert.
  • 3 1/2 cups milk
  • 1/2 cup short grain rice (arborio style)
  • 2 tsp vanilla bean paste
  • 2 Tbs sugar
  1. In a medium sized pot add the milk and rice. Heat over a medium-high flame, stirring often until the mixture comes to a boil.
  2. Once boiling, turn the flame down and keep the pudding at a gentle simmer. Stir regular to prevent sticking and scorching.
  3. Cook for 25-35 minutes. Turn off the heat before the pudding is as thick as you want -- it will continue to cook and thicken as it cools. Stir in the vanilla bean paste and sugar, mixing thoroughly.
  4. Serve immediately while it is still warm, or let it cool and serve cold. Enjoy!
Prep time: Cook time: Total time: Yield: 2 cups, 4 servings