Sunday, June 11, 2006

Coconut Rice Pudding

So I’ve never been a huge rice pudding fan. In fact, not so much at all. I’m pretty sure it stems from feeling like the texture of tapioca was similar to eating some small amphibian’s eyeballs, and rice pudding didn’t seem to be too far away. My opinion changed instantly when I stepped into this little dessert bar, Pudding on the Rice, in Provo, Utah while visiting my brother. All they do is rice pudding, which sounded odd but interesting, and they do it so well. It’s as good as going out for ice cream, and that is a high compliment coming from me, since I consider ice cream possibly the greatest treat ever. (Crème brûlée is right up there, too, but it's not so very different from ice cream.)

When my brother came to visit me this last week, he obligingly chilled and transported a few flavors from Pudding on the Rice, with my favorite being coconut. I asked Mark, my husband and co-enjoyer-of-food, to try it, knowing full well he wouldn't like it, since he didn't like coconut ever before we were married 9 years ago, and now seems to like it when it's part of a dish, like vegetable curry or something. Eager with anticipation and ready to be deflated with his lack of enthusiasm, he tasted it, then told me he thought he might like it if it didn't have coconut flakes in it. Since I haven't made a coconut dessert for the last 9 years, I jumped on the opportunity. Last night, I made my first-ever rice pudding and Mark's first-ever coconut dessert. I chilled it in the freezer, stirring every few minutes, so we wouldn't have to wait 3 hours to eat it, since we were going to bed after watching King Kong (not a movie I readily recommend). Not only did Mark eat a small dish of it last night, he took a few spoonfuls today and gave me his approval. This is definitely what marriage is all about. Compromise. I like rice pudding; he likes coconut. Shocking!

The pudding was very thick, which was great for me, but if you want it a touch thinner, add a bit more milk. As usual, I combined a few recipes, and this is what I came up with:

Coconut Rice Pudding

1-15 oz. can coconut milk
1½ cups 2% or whole milk
½ cup long-grain white rice (do not rinse)
½ cup sugar
1 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 teaspoon vanilla
pinch salt

Bring milk, rice, sugar, butter, vanilla, and salt to a boil in a heavy saucepan over moderately high heat, then reduce heat to low and simmer, uncovered, stirring frequently, until rice is very tender, about 1 hour. Chill, covered, until completely cool, then serve.

I'd include a picture, but it's rice pudding...not so beautiful. It's good by itself or served with mangoes!

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