My first attempts to find the perfect rice pudding recipe left me overwhelmed. Some recipes called for cooked rice while others called for uncooked rice. Then the rice aficionados want to discuss which grain of rice to use and how to cook the pudding – baked or boiled. Next, I ran into a discussion regarding whether I should use a vanilla bean or just dump in some vanilla extract in the end. To be honest, I gave up my quest and settled for a candy bar. “Aint nobody got time for that!” But my most recent visit to Rice to Riches inspired me to again seek the perfect pudding recipe. I got busy in the kitchen and can now answer all of those pesky, overwhelming pudding questions while simultaneously presenting you with - (what?) – the best rice pudding recipe ever! First, I’ll answer the questions:
- Baked or boiled? Everyone who participated in my taste test preferred boiled. The boiled version is more pudding-like, while baked rice pudding is more like a lumpy custard.
- Double boiler? Yes! Use a double boiler to prevent scorching. Cooking your pudding over direct heat is possible but isn't recommended.
- Which grain of rice? Medium grain is best but long grain rice is pretty great, too. There wasn’t a ton of difference, to be honest.
- Vanilla Extract or Vanilla Bean? Definitely use the vanilla bean. The taste is amazing and the tiny freckles left by the bean makes the pudding look sweet.
- Raw or cooked rice? Use recipes that call for raw rice. When rice is cooked in the pudding mixture, it picks up the flavors of the pudding. Already-cooked rice stands out as a separate entity in the pudding; which is distracting.
A delicious rice pudding has just the right amount of creaminess and spice. Rice is its own thickening agent – which is what provides the creaminess in this dessert. This pudding (like most old fashioned puddings) is a little time intensive – it will take you approximately an hour of constant stirring. So grab a loved one to take turns with the stirring or pick up a good book to distract you.
4 C Milk (I used 2% but Whole Milk works, too)
1 Vanilla Bean
½ C Medium Grain White Rice (uncooked)
½ - C Raisins (use more if you really like raisins)
2 Egg Yolks
¼ C Sugar
¼ t Cinnamon (add a pinch more if you really love cinnamon)
¼ t Nutmeg
Using a double boiler, stir the Milk, Vanilla Bean, Rice, and Salt over medium-high heat for approximately 50 minutes, stirring (for the most part) constantly. The mixture will magically thicken and look like a pudding – waiting for this to occur is the trick.
As soon as the mixture has thickened, add the raisins and simmer for 5 more minutes. While the raisins simmer, mix the egg yolks, sugar, cinnamon, and nutmeg in a separate bowl.
Whip ¼ C of your hot mixture into the egg yolk mixture. This will temper the egg mixture (i.e., keep the eggs from cooking when you mix the two together). Now add the egg mixture into your double boiler and stir well.
Remove the vanilla bean, cut it lengthwise, and scrape it. Add the scrapings into the pudding and – voila’ – you are ready to enjoy your pudding! (This can be served either hot or cold. You choose.)
Makes approximately 8 servings