Coconut Rice Pudding

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So I stayed up all night yesterday watching recipe videos in a sinking spiral of late-night nausea and deepening depression that only emerges at 2 a.m., alone in bed, when there’s no one to keep you company but the bright computer screen. One good thing I came away with though: a hunkering desire to make rice pudding. Creamy, milky, sweet pudding with a soft consistency and an occasional bite from the rice. With a little big of egg and vanilla to add a custard-y flavor (one of my favorite flavors in the whole world). It’s just so comforting in the most elementary way.

My version conflates two different recipes and, as usual, left me with some kitchen lessons. First one: for the millionth time, Andrea, STOP using orange extract thinking it might be able to replace orange zest. (It won’t. And the fake taste will mercilessly mock you with every bite.) And with arborio rice, the pudding ratio for rice to liquid is approximately 2/3 cup rice for 3 ¾ liquid. The rest of the details are below in the recipe. P.S. the coconut here is very, very subtle. I would add coconut extract if you want the flavor to be stronger.

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Coconut Rice Pudding

If you want an orange flavor:

2/3 cup arborio rice
1 can coconut milk (1 ¾ cups or 14 oz)
1 ¼ water
¾ cup orange juice
Zest of one orange
1/8 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 tablespoons maple syrup
3-4 heaping tablespoons sugar (or to taste; just add the tablespoons gradually and taste in between)
1 egg yolk whisked with 1-2 tablespoons milk

If you want just coconut custard flavor:

2/3 cup arborio rice
1 can coconut milk (1 ¾ cups or 14 oz)
2 cups milk (or 1 cup milk, 1 cup water)
1/8 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 tablespoons maple syrup
3-4 tablespoons sugar (or to taste; just add the tablespoons gradually and taste in between)
1 egg yolk whisked with 1-2 tablespoons milk

Directions:

1. Pour everything minus the maple syrup and sugar (and zest) into a pan and bring to a boil.
2. Once at a boil, reduce to a simmer and let cook for about 30 minutes.
3. Add sugar and maple syrup (and zest) and keep simmering until it reaches the consistency you want. For me it was when the rice had absorbed as much liquid as it could (most of it) and there was just enough liquid left to bind everything, approx. 15 minutes.
4. Turn off the heat and maybe wait a couple minutes. To thicken the pudding, whisk in the egg yolk mixed with milk slowly. You should end up with a light yellow color. If you’re pudding is already thick enough for your tastes, omit the egg.
5. Refrigerate with plastic wrap covering the surface of the pudding, not the rims of the bowl, to prevent a film from developing. Chill overnight.

*Disclaimer: I played with my recipe while cooking a LOT. I initially only used 1/3 cup of rice and so had to microwave more arborio to add to the mixture. I let it continue cooking until it thickened even more. Ending fact: this recipe gives good guidelines but please do play with the proportions and timing.