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Perfect Vanilla Bean Rice Pudding

Perfect Vanilla Bean Rice Pudding
Rice pudding is one of my favorite comfort foods. Though there are a few gourmet rice pudding stores out there (very, very few), rice pudding remains something that is best made and eaten at home. A good rice pudding should feature a combination of smooth, rich custard and very tender rice. It should be sweet, without being too sweet, and the rice should really be the focal point – otherwise you may as well be eating any old pudding! This Perfect Vanilla Bean Rice Pudding is a delicious, simple dish to make when you’re in the mood for a classic, homestyle dessert.

For me, this rice pudding is just about perfect – hence the name! It has a good rice-to-custard ratio and enough milk that the rice becomes perfectly tender as it cooks. It has some milk (any kind of milk can be used, from nonfat to whole, though I recommend low fat) and some cream to give it a touch of richness without making it so decadent that you feel limited to eating a small portion. I used an egg to thicken the pudding and give it a velvety texture. While I have used cornstarch to thicken rice pudding in the past, the egg gives the pudding a better overall texture and also ensures that the leftovers are going to taste just as good as they day they were made.

I like rice pudding both warm and cold. A bowl of warm rice pudding is absolutely delicious on a cold day, while cold rice pudding is good just about any time. This pudding has just the right touch of sweetness and a great vanilla flavor to it. If you don’t have a vanilla bean handy, you could stir in two teaspoons of vanilla extract as you remove your pudding from the heat, however a vanilla bean makes the pudding especially flavorful. I often eat my rice pudding plain, however you can stir in dried fruit, such as raisins or chopped apricots, for texture or fold in a big of whipped heavy cream after the pudding is cooled to give it an ethereal, mousse-like quality, as well.

Perfect Vanilla Bean Rice Pudding
1/2 vanilla bean
1/2 cup (approximately) plain, cooked rice
2 cups milk (pref. low fat)
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 large egg
1/3 cup sugar

Take a medium saucepan. Split the vanilla bean in half and scrape out the seeds. Combine vanilla bean seeds with rice, milk and cream and place in the saucepan. Bring milk mixture to a simmer over low heat, stirring occasionally, and cook until the liquid reduces by at least half, about 30 minutes. The mixture should be roughly 2/3 rice and 1/3 liquid.
In a medium bowl, whisk together the egg and sugar until smooth. Pour in a small amount (approximately 1/2 cup) of the milk from the rice while whisking constantly. Stirring with a whisk, stream the sugar mixture back into the large pot. Cook over medium-low heat until the pudding bubbles and thickens enough to coat the back of a spoon. Remove from heat and transfer to a separate bowl to cool.
Store, covered, in the refrigerator.

Serves 4-6.

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  • Lauren
    February 24, 2015

    OK I usually try not to bother people with typos in their writing, but this one made me laugh: “While I have used cornstarch to chicken rice pudding in the past,”….

    Chicken. Tee hee!

    On another note, this sounds soo good right now. I want to eat this for breakfast!!!

  • Nicole
    February 24, 2015

    Lauren – That is a funny one! Sometimes I swear my fingers have a mind of their own when I’m typing!

  • danielle
    February 24, 2015

    Rice pudding is my all time favorite sweet treat – this sounds just perfect!

  • Eszter
    February 25, 2015

    This recipe is perfect. It’s not over-sugary, which lets the rice flavour come through.

  • Janet
    March 8, 2015

    I’m a little confused. Do you start with rice that is already cooked (i.e. from a rice cooker) and measure out 1/2 c. of the cooked rice?

  • Nicole
    March 9, 2015

    Janet – Yes, you start out with rice that has already been cooked in water. You could also use leftover rice from, say, Chinese take-out if you happen to have that on hand. To make the pudding, the rice is cooked a second time in milk.

  • Sabreena
    October 23, 2015

    Hi! I just made this! These were fantastic! Love it!

  • Dee J Jones
    December 11, 2016

    You only need 1/2 cooked rice? Is that right? How does that serve 4-6?

  • Nicole
    December 14, 2016

    Hi Dee,

    The rice expands a lot during the cooking process, but it is true that you might get fewer servings depending on how big your serving is. If you want to serve a group with larger portions, or simply want to have a lot more leftover, feel free to double the recipe.

    I hope that helps,

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