Start to Finish: 1 hour, 45 minutes
Servings: 4 to 6
Difficulty Level: Beginner
Rice pudding is about as comforting and classic as food gets -- it practically rejects complication and embellishment. Its custard-like consistency comes from a starch-and-milk-fat marriage that occurs when rice and cream cook together, no thickeners needed. Consider a crisp, caramelized creme brulee-like crust for delightful play on texture.
- 1/2 cup long-grain rice
- 4 cups half-and-half
- 1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
- 1/3 cup sugar
- Secondary ingredients, such as cinnamon, allspice and vanilla (optional)
- 1/2 cup golden raisins
- Coarse sugar (optional)
Rinse the long-grained rice until the water runs clear. Let the rice drain the rice for a minute or so.
Stir together the half-and-half, grated lemon zest, sugar, a pinch of salt and the rice in a heavy-bottomed saucepan. If desired, stir in a secondary flavoring, such as allspice, cinnamon or the beans from a vanilla pod.
Bring the rice mixture to a simmer over medium heat. Then, lower the temperature of the stove to medium-low.
Cook the rice pudding uncovered until it's moderately thickened, about 45 minutes. Stir the rice and scrape the bottom of the pan regularly to prevent sticking.
Take the saucepan off the stove. Stir in the golden raisins and garnish with freshly grated nutmeg, if desired. Set the rice pudding aside to cool. Serve the rice pudding warm or chilled.
A Touch of Caramelization
Set the oven rack 3 to 4 inches under the broiler. Heat the broiler.
Transfer the cooled rice pudding to oven-safe ramekins after it reaches room temperature. Leave about 1/4 inch of space at the top of the ramekins.
Sprinkle enough coarse sugar on the rice pudding to cover the surface. Demerara or other raw cane sugar works best.
Set the ramekins in a shallow dish and place them in the oven. Broil the sugar until it caramelizes, about 2 minutes. Take the dish out of the oven and let the ramekins cool for about 5 minutes before you take them out.
Regional variations of rice pudding typically follow the standard cooking, but differ in rice variety and secondary ingredients.
Kheer, a South Asian version, calls for jasmine rice, cardamom pods, saffron and shaved pistachios.
German milchreis, which translates as milk rice, contains apples and confiture or compote.
- Ris a'la monde, a Scandinavian variant of rice pudding, combines almonds, cherries and vanilla for a contrasting textural delight.
Cooking Tips and Notes
Cook the rice pudding in the oven if you need to conserve stove space. Bake the rice pudding in a greased baking dish at 350 degrees Fahrenheit until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, about 1 1/2 hours.
Use a rasp grater to zest lemons for a fluffy, feathery zest that packs enough tartness to brighten the flavor of rice pudding without standing out.
- Add 2 egg yolks per 1/2 cup of rice for a thicker rice pudding.
- Photo Credit axelbueckert/iStock/Getty Images
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