Rice pudding was a dish that I only ate at my grandmother’s house when I was growing up. While she didn’t always make it herself from scratch (she sometimes did, and bought Kozi Shack at other times), it was always a creamy treat that I looked forward to when I visited. Perhaps it is because of those memories with my grandmother, but rice pudding has always been a comfort food in my mind.
My grandmother typically dusted her rice pudding with a bit of cinnamon before serving it – she did that with oatmeal, as well – and I still enjoy it that way, though these days I also like to bring some other flavors into my rice pudding, such as coconut, Nutella and rum. This Spiced Rum Rice Pudding is inspired by tropical drinks, as it has pineapple mango and coconut stirred in where more conventional recipes might use raisins. It is also spiked with rum at the end of cooking, which makes it a lot more “grown up” than some of the rice pudding recipes you might be familiar with, and I suspect that my grandmother would approve.
The base of this recipe is my favorite Perfect Vanilla Bean Rice Pudding, which is delicious on its own and, like vanilla ice cream, a great canvas for other flavors. You can easily use vanilla extract instead of a real vanilla bean in this recipe, if you don’t have a vanilla bean on hand, by stirring 2 teaspoons of vanilla extract in in place of the bean. The dried tropical fruits are complimented by the floral vanilla bean and plump up as they are cooked in the pudding. I stirred the rum in towards the end of cooking so that it wouldn’t completely cook off, ensuring that you can still taste it when the pudding is served.
Spiced Rum Rice Pudding
1/2 vanilla bean or 2 tsp vanilla extract
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
1/3 cup dried mango, diced
1/3 cup dried pineapple, diced
1/3 cup sweetened, shredded coconut
1/4 cup spiced rum*
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. If not using a vanilla bean, stir in vanilla extract. 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. Add in diced mango, pineapple and coconut. Cook over medium-low heat until the pudding bubbles and thickens enough to coat the back of a spoon. Stir in rum and cook for 1-2 minutes, until rum is completely incorporated. Remove from heat and transfer to a separate bowl to cool.
Store, covered, in the refrigerator.
*Use a spiced rum that you like the flavor of, as you will definitely taste it in the finished dish! I used Kirkland Spiced Rum (from Costco) for this batch, but I’ve had good results with Bacardi Oakheart, as well. There are quite a few other brands out there that will be just as tasty, so feel free to experiment.