Rice Pudding Pops

Rice Pudding Pops
Pudding pops were one of my favorite hot-weather treats as a kid. They were sweet, creamy and had a great commercial campaign behind them. I still like pudding pops when they’re made with homemade pudding. Pudding pops generally came in vanilla, chocolate and a vanilla-chocolate swirl, but there are all kinds of pudding flavors out there and every one of them is fair game for homemade pudding pops – even rice pudding.

These Rice Pudding Pops are a novel way to enjoy rice pudding during the hot summer months. They have more texture than you would usually expect to find in a pudding pop, thanks to all of that rice, but that texture makes the popsicles a little bit more satisfying to eat. The rice pudding itself is an easy homemade recipe that uses cooked white rice, sugar, milk, cream and vanilla extract. I like to add a splash of amaretto to my pudding pops for a little almond flavor, but if you are a fan of cinnamon in your rice pudding you can add a sprinkle or two as you prepare it instead. I always use white rice for rice pudding, no matter what type of rice I use (long grain, short grain, basmati, jasmine, etc.) because white rice cooks down to a very tender texture. This tender texture is a real asset in these pudding pops, giving them just enough texture to be interesting but without taking away from their creaminess. Brown rice and wild rice can be experimented with, but may not yield pops that are quite as tasty.

When I am preparing rice pudding for pudding pops, I add in a little more sugar than I would ordinarily include in rice pudding. This is because foods taste less sweet when they are frozen (this is why ice cream often tastes the best as it starts to melt), and you want to make sure that you get some sweetness in your pops – not just rice and milk! The pops are very satisfying, with a great balance of cream and sugar, vanilla and almond. They’re very creamy, and while there is some texture in them from the rice, the well-cooked rice remains tender even after freezing.

Rice Pudding Pops
1 cup cooked white rice, cooled
1 1/2 cups milk (pref. low fat or whole)
1/2 cup sugar
1/3 cup heavy cream
2 tsp vanilla extract
2 tsp Amaretto or 1/4 tsp almond extract
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon, optional

In a medium saucepan, combine cooked white rice, milk and sugar. Cook over medium heat, stirring with a spatula until the sugar dissolves. Turn the heat to medium-low and cook, stirring occasionally, until the mixture comes to a simmer and begins to thicken, about 6-8 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in cream, vanilla extract and Amaretto (and ground cinnamon, if using).
Divide evenly into popsicle molds (2 1/2 – 3-oz molds) and freeze for 3-4 hours, or until solid.

Makes 5-6 popsicles, depending on size of popsicle mold.

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