Rice Pudding

For the holidays we Puerto Ricans have our own versions of desserts. The most popular is arroz con dulce. Simply, rice pudding. The literal translation of arroz con dulce is "sweetened rice." A more appropriate term would be sweet coconut rice. Coconut milk is the main component of the dish. In my first cookbook, Puerto Rican Cuisine in America, I give the recipe using a fresh ripe coconut. If you want to be traditional and use a genuine coconut, you are welcomed to get the book and try the recipe. For those who don't have the time to crack open and prepare a coconut, I give below a quicker recipe using canned coconut milk or cream. In either case, the recipe is marvelous and delicious. Believe me, this is not your ordinary rice pudding recipe. As a dessert, it sets the bar pretty high.

ARROZ CON DULCE (Rice Pudding)

2 cups either long grain or short grain rice
2 cups canned coconut milk or cream
1 5-ounce can evaporated milk
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground cloves
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup seedless black raisins
1 1/2 cups brown sugar
1 teaspoon butter or margarine
1/2 cup cracker crumbs

1. Wash rice at least three times in cold water and drain to rid it of starch. What in Pennsylvania Dutch country is known as "washing in several waters."
2. In a heavy kettle or pot, heat one cup water. When it comes to a roiling boil, add rice, coconut milk, evaporated milk, cinnamon, cloves, salt, vanilla, raisins, sugar and butter. Cook on moderate heat, stirring frequently with a wooden spoon, for 35 minutes or until rice is tender and most of the liquid has been absorbed.
3. Spoon into a round serving platter or large pie plate.
4. Sprinkle with cracker crumbs and allow to cool at room temperature before serving.
Yield: 10 0r more servings.

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