Creamy Coconut Rice Pudding

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Creamy Coconut Rice Pudding
Creamy Coconut Rice Pudding

There are so many ways to make rice pudding. Some use the stove-top method, others (like me) use the oven. Some bake the rice pudding directly in the oven but I prefer the hot water bath method for reasons explained below.

For rice pudding, I prefer a short grain rice such as Arborio which is what I have used in this pudding. Arborio rice (often used in risotto) is named after the Italian town where it is grown.  What makes it my preference for rice pudding is that, when cooked, it has lovely round pearl-like grains that hold their shape and don’t turn to “mush”.  This rice also has a high starch level and that helps to self-thicken the pudding as it bakes and also contributes to its creamy texture.

Creamy Coconut Rice Pudding
Creamy Coconut Rice Pudding

This pudding is true comfort food. The addition of coconut milk gives the pudding a subtle hint of coconut but not so strong that it detracts from the basic flavour we expect to find in an old-fashioned rice pudding.  I think the texture of the coconut milk also helps to keep the custard creamy.

I have used a maple syrup that was infused with cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves. This does add a bit of discrete flavor to the pudding but, certainly, plain maple syrup would work just fine. I have added a blend of three spices – cardamon, nutmeg, and cinnamon – but again, not in large quantities because I don’t want the pudding to be overly spiced. I just want it to be delicately flavored.

Raisins, a traditional addition to rice puddings, do need to be “plumped” before adding them to the pudding as, otherwise, they don’t become very soft in the custard.  It’s not very pleasing to the palette to bite into hard, dry raisins amidst a soft creamy custard. For this recipe, I have soaked the 1/3 cup of raisins in about 1 tablespoon of Amaretto by placing these two ingredients in a small covered dish for at least 45 minutes.  Shaking the dish periodically helps to ensure that all raisins are coated with the liqueur.  In fact, you could leave them soaking for a couple of hours (the raisins will just be extra happy if you do so!).

Rice pudding custard is actually quite delicate and, for greatest success, it is best if the egg proteins are protected from direct hot heat and from fast baking.  Because the pudding is made with an egg-milk custard, it is therefore, in my opinion, best if it is baked slowly in a hot water bath.  This is simply a method of baking whereby the pudding dish(es) are placed inside a larger pan into which hot water is poured up to about half way on the pudding dishes or even up to the level of the custard in the ramekins. However, the water should not be so deep that the pudding dishes start to float. They need to sit stable in the water as the pudding bakes.

The benefits of baking this pudding in a hot water bath are several. First, the hot water adds steam and moisture to the oven which will prevent the puddings from drying out and cracking on the top as they bake. Second, any custard mixture of milk and eggs has the potential to curdle – that’s when the milk-egg mixture separates from the solids (in this case, the rice and raisins).  Because it is a slower method of baking and the hot water provides an even heat source, the hot water bath method helps to prevent the risk of curdled custard.  The hot water also helps the custard to bake evenly, both its outside edges as well as its center.  Without the hot water baking method, the custard could bake quicker on the outside edges of the pudding than in the center and part of the pudding would be dried out. Lastly, the slow baking combined with an oven of moist heat will help to keep the pudding creamy in texture as opposed to “rubbery”.

I place the 9″x13″x2″ pan with the ramekins in it on the oven shelf and just ever-so-slightly pull the shelf out, just enough that I can safely pour the hot water into the larger baking pan without getting a burn. I find this is a safer method than filling the pan with the hot water and transporting it to the oven. The water needs to be kept at the same level during the baking process so, since it naturally evaporates, you may need to add more hot water as the pudding bakes.

Bake the puddings for approximately 1 hour or until pudding top edges are set, centers are still a little “jiggly”, and the puddings are golden-colored. A knife inserted in or near the centre of the pudding should come out clean if the pudding is done. Don’t overbake the pudding as it will dry out and be less creamy. Remove ramekins from water bath and let them stand on a wire rack to set for approximately 10 minutes before serving.

Adding toasted coconut to the top of this pudding is optional but the crunchiness and flavour are an added touch.  Toasting coconut is simple. The coconut gets spread thinly on a baking sheet and baked in a 350° F oven for about 8-9 minutes. It is important to watch that the coconut does not burn and it should be turned once or twice during the toasting process to ensure even color.

Creamy Coconut Rice Pudding
Creamy Coconut Rice Pudding
Creamy Coconut Rice Pudding

Ingredients:

1¼ cups cooked Arborio rice
1/3 cup raisins, soaked in 1 tbsp Amaretto
½ cup coconut milk
¾ cup whole milk
1 extra-large egg, lightly beaten
2 tbsp granulated sugar
2 tbsp maple syrup
¼ tsp salt
½ tsp vanilla
1/8 tsp cardamom
1/8 tsp nutmeg
¼ tsp cinnamon

¼ cup shredded coconut (sweetened or unsweetened), toasted (optional)

Method:

In small covered dish, soak raisins in Amaretto for at least 45 minutes to plump them, shaking or stirring occasionally to ensure all raisins are coated with the liqueur.

Cook rice according to package directions.

Preheat oven to 325°F. Grease 6 – ¾-cup size ramekin dishes.

In large bowl, whisk together the coconut and whole milk, egg, sugar, maple syrup, salt, vanilla, and spices. Add rice and raisins and stir gently. Divide mixture between 6 prepared ramekins and place in 9”x13”x2” pan. Pour hot water into pan up to half-way on the sides of the ramekins or even up to about the level of the custard in the dishes. However, make sure the ramekins are not floating in the water.

Bake for approximately 1 hour or until pudding top edges are set, centers are still a little “jiggly” and puddings are golden-colored. A knife inserted in or near the centre of the pudding should come out clean if the pudding is done. Remove ramekins from water bath and let stand on wire rack to set for approximately 10 minutes before serving. To serve, top each with toasted coconut, if desired.

[To toast coconut: Spread coconut on baking sheet and bake in 350° F oven for 8-9 minutes, stirring once or twice, until coconut is lightly tanned in color.]

Yield: 6 servings.

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Creamy Coconut Rice Pudding

Serving Size: Apx. 6 servings

A delicate coconut-flavored creamy baked rice pudding with subtle spice flavoring

Ingredients

  • 1¼ cups cooked Arborio rice
  • 1/3 cup raisins, soaked in 1 tbsp Amaretto
  • ½ cup coconut milk
  • ¾ cup whole milk
  • 1 extra-large egg, lightly beaten
  • 2 tbsp granulated sugar
  • 2 tbsp maple syrup
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • ½ tsp vanilla
  • 1/8 tsp cardamom
  • 1/8 tsp nutmeg
  • ¼ tsp cinnamon
  • ¼ cup shredded coconut (sweetened or unsweetened), toasted (optional)

Instructions

  1. In small covered dish, soak raisins in Amaretto for at least 45 minutes to plump them, shaking or stirring occasionally to ensure all raisins are coated with the liqueur.
  2. Cook rice according to package directions.
  3. Preheat oven to 325°F. Grease 6 – ¾-cup size ramekin dishes.
  4. In large bowl, whisk together the coconut and whole milk, egg, sugar, maple syrup, salt, vanilla, and spices. Add rice and raisins and stir gently. Divide mixture between 6 prepared ramekins and place in 9”x13”x2” pan. Pour hot water into pan up to half-way on the sides of the ramekins or even up to about the level of the custard in the dishes. However, make sure the ramekins are not floating in the water.
  5. Bake for approximately 1 hour or until pudding top edges are set, centers are still a little “jiggly” and puddings are golden-colored. A knife inserted in or near the centre of the pudding should come out clean if the pudding is done. Remove ramekins from water bath and let stand on wire rack to set for approximately 10 minutes before serving. To serve, top each with toasted coconut, if desired.
  6. [To toast coconut: Spread coconut on baking sheet and bake in 350°F oven for 8-9 minutes, stirring once or twice, until coconut is lightly tanned in color.]
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Creamy Coconut Rice Pudding
Creamy Coconut Rice Pudding

 

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