Last night I should have been writing this blog post, but for whatever reasons, I had to have rice pudding. Had to. If you haven't ever had really good rice pudding, that probably sounds weird, but good rice pudding is just as crave-able as any other creamy sweet dessert. The only problem with my craving was that when I came to my blog to look up my favorite recipe, it wasn't there--oh, the horror. Apparently, I've never posted it. Time to right that wrong.
I grew up eating rice pudding on occasion, but it was of the leftover rice variety. My mom would take some leftover rice, add an egg, some milk, sugar, and cinnamon and it would be rice pudding. I still consider this a perfectly fabulous way to use up leftover rice and I have craved this concoction after each and every one of my babies has been born.
However, this recipe is rice pudding on a whole different level than that. It is a rice pudding that is actually, well, a pudding. I won't call it a knock off recipe for Cozy Shack rice pudding exactly (because of course it's better and full of lovely natural ingredients), but it definitely has a flavor and texture that reminds you of Cozy Shack rice pudding (which I also kind of love, so there you go). This is creamy and rich--a lovely backdrop for fruit if you want to pretend it's breakfast, not dessert.
I got the recipe from Smitten Kitchen. She uses cinnamon sticks, cloves, and lemon rinds, and gives the rice a pre-soak. You can totally do that and will be rewarded with humming undertones of those flavors. But if you'd like to have your rice pudding before midnight, follow me. And don't worry--this pudding can totally hold its own without the added spices or the pre-soak.
Rice Pudding (Cozy Shack Style)
adapted from Smitten Kitchen
makes 6-10 servings
Cook time: 1 hour
rice: .20, egg: .10, milk: .40, sweetened condensed milk: 1.00, vanilla: .20
Note: This can be eaten warm or cold. I like it best cold. Be warned that it thickens significantly as it cools so you'll want it a runnier than you think it should be. Otherwise, you'll have a lump of pudding when it's cool. I cooked mine a bit too long this time--it's still amazing, mind you, but it is thicker today that I prefer it.
Another note: You can use the cinnamon sticks, cloves, and lemon if you wish. Naturally this will raise your cost significantly. Or you can use several dashes of cinnamon and a pinch of clove if you wish. Or you can skip it entirely and just go for a creamy vanilla flavor.
Another note: This is a great recipe for a vanilla bean if that's your thing. If you'd like to use a vanilla bean, add it when you add the milk. You'll slice it open, let it cook, then scrape out those seeds and let it cook more. If you don't have a vanilla bean or are too cheap to use them, then a good Tablespoon of vanilla is all you need.
And another note: I've only made this with white rice. However, I really want to give it a go with brown. I think it would work out just fine and taste a bit nuttier and more complex. Let me know if you try it.
One final note: This calls for only 1 cup of rice. It seems much too little for all the liquid we're going to add, but it's correct--just watch, you'll see.
1 C rice (long-grain white or arborio)
2 cinnamon sticks (or a dash of cinnamon)
2 strips lemon rind (can be skipped)
3 cloves (or a dash of cloves)
4 C water
3 C milk (I used whole, but 2% would also work; I would not recommend skim, but if the low-fat sirens have you trapped in their clutches, go ahead and give it a try)
1 14-oz can sweetened condensed milk
1 vanilla bean OR 1 Tbsp vanilla
Combine rice and water in large pot. Add cinnamon, cloves, and lemon rind if using. Bring to a boil, then lower heat and let it simmer UNCOVERED.
While it's simmering, whisk your egg in a separate bowl and then add you milk. Whisk to combine and set aside.
Now back to the pot of rice. When most of the water is out and it looks only a little better than Oliver Twist's gruel (this will take 10-15 minutes), you're ready to make some pudding. Add your egg/milk concoction--stirring as you pour it into the hot mushy rice. Then add the sweetened condensed milk.
Bring to a boil again and lower the heat again, letting it simmer UNCOVERED for another 30-35 minutes, stirring occasionally. As you stir, be sure to stir the bottom of the pot, so nothing starts to stick to it and burn. Now if you're in a hurry because your rice pudding cravings don't wait, you can leave this to cook at a higher heat, but you will have to pay for this by stirring it constantly so it doesn't burn. Don't leave and read a book; your rice pudding craving will never forgive you.
It's going to simmer and simmer and simmer (with you stirring occasionally). As it simmers it will thicken. You need to take it off the heat before all the liquid is simmered off. In fact, you need to take it off the heat when it still seems a little runny--one stage before how runny you would actually like it to be. This pudding thickens significantly as it cools so unless you want to mold this like jello, you've got to take it off the heat while it's still a bit runny--not a sloggy, puddle-like mess mind you, but a little runnier than you want your cooled product to be. Add the vanilla. Stir. And cool. This is also pretty darn good warm, though I confess I love it best cold.