There's something satisfyingly decadent about rice pudding. I wouldn't say it's much of a showstopper dessert where I would make it for a dinner party. In fact, it's actually something I choose to make for myself when I want rice pudding. Maybe it's the greedy girl inside me. Rice pudding may not be for everyone, so I suppose I tend to keep it for myself. First, a bowl of it hot from the burner to satisfy that instant craving, then maybe another bowl the next day enjoyed cold from the fridge.
It is in my humble opinion, the simplest of desserts. Put together by what really lies within your pantry. Maybe it could be considered the "peasant" of puddings. Thrown together with just milk, rice (arborio for me), sugar, and really any flavoring that would please you at the moment. The good old vanilla bean standby is always welcome.
Cinnamon? Why not? Throw in a handful of raisins too if you want. A splash (or glug) of rum? Might as well grate a sprinkling of nutmeg in there too. You probably have a piece of chocolate lingering in the pantry from way back, you know, the one with the foil torn off that you really meant to do something with but never got the chance to.
The one thing I strongly suggest when making rice pudding is to use arborio rice. It releases its starches and thickens the milk into creamy goodness. Something that long grain rice just can't live up to. I once made rice pudding with jasmine rice and was let down by the lack of creaminess. Long grain rice also has a tendency to get hard when it cools down, making your pudding less than pudding like. I've never tried using sushi rice, although I'm sure you can achieve similar results to arborio.
Coconut Lemon Rice Pudding
Serves 2- 3
1/3 cup arborio rice
1 cup milk
1 cup coconut milk
1/4 cup sugar
Zest from half a lemon, grated from a microplane
In a medium, heavy bottomed pot, combine the rice, milk, and coconut milk. Bring to a boil and turn down the heat. Simmer for 20 minutes, stirring frequently.
After 20 minutes, add the sugar. Keep cooking and stirring for another 15 or 20 minutes. Until the rice is very tender and the milk starts to thicken. Depending on how much liquid your rice absorbs, you may want to adjust the consistency of your rice pudding with a little more milk or water. I tend to go on the runnier side since it will keep thickening as it cools.
Stir in the lemon zest. Serve hot, room temperature, or cold.
Some ideas to flavor your rice pudding:
Cinnamon and raisin
Bittersweet chocolate, orange zest, and crushed hazelnuts to top
A splash of cream, nutmeg and rum
Lemongrass and ginger
Fresh raspberries to top, pistachios, and a drizzle of honey
*When using aromatics like spices or herbs, I would recommend adding them halfway through the cooking time. Since some spices tend to oversteep from the lengthy cooking time and could leave a bitterness.