It's National Rice Pudding Day, and I'm happy to celebrate the occasion! Except that I try not to eat too many refined carbs. And really, given my own preferences, I try to stick to lean protein and lots of fruits and vegetables.
However, I think my sweet tooth is pretty legendary, so I'm obviously not a zealot; how many cakes, cookies, and pies have I posted about??? And I definitely make an exception to any dietary guidelines when it comes to indulging in rice pudding, one of my very favorite desserts (and Jeremy's, too).
So when making this pudding, I used brown rice which adds not only a bit of a nutty flavor but also more nutrition and fiber. Sure, its benefits are discounted by the sugar and the half-and-half, but every little bit counts!
The cherries add a really lovely sweet-tartness, and are enhanced by the almond extract, although the traditional raisins would be more than welcome if you prefer. (You know me - I always have to tinker a bit.) Dates are also wonderful in rice pudding, if you have those on hand.
This recipe is ridiculously easy to make, as are all puddings - sugar, milk, cornstarch, eggs, stir, set, done. But it's a great luxury and indulgence to enjoy ... :)
Brown Rice Pudding with Cherries
- 2-1/2 cups water, divided
- 1-1/2 cups instant brown rice
- 1/3 cup dried cherries, chopped
- 1/2 cup sugar
- pinch of kosher salt
- 2 tablespoons cornstarch
- 2 cups half-and-half
- 2 eggs
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1/4 teaspoon almond extract
- whipped cream, for serving
In a small saucepan, bring 1-1/2 cups water to a boil; add rice, cover, and simmer for 5 minutes or until water is absorbed. Place rice and cherries into a 2.5-quart casserole dish.
In a medium saucepan, combine sugar, salt, cornstarch, and remaining cup of water; bring to a boil, whisking until mixture thickens and turns translucent. Add half-and-half and cook over medium heat, whisking constantly, for 5 minutes until thickened. Whisk in eggs; cook, whisking constantly, for 2 more minutes. Add extracts, then pour custard over rice. (The mixture will look like rice in milk, but the rice will absorb the custard.)
Cover with plastic pressed against the pudding to prevent a skin from forming, and refrigerate for 2 hours. (If it sits longer than that, you may want to stir in a splash of milk before serving.)
Serve warm or chilled, topped with whipped cream. Makes 10-12 servings.