My excitement over this week’s TWD recipe could be summed up by the sound of crickets chirping. I actually like rice pudding, but…you know, when I feel like indulging in dessert, I don’t know that rice should be involved. Gobs of frosting and pounds of chocolate? Yes. A grain typically served as a side dish to stir-fry? I wasn’t really feeling it.
But of course, this is the part where I admit how silly my reluctance was, and how much I liked the rice pudding. Because seriously, this pudding hit all the right spots. The sugar spot, the warm creamy spot, the gooey comfort dessert spot…yep, knocked ‘em all out. So add this to my ever-growing “TWD Recipes I Doubted But Shouldn’t Have” list.
Can you believe I’d never made rice pudding before? I’m just not a big rice eater–I don’t hate it, but I don’t crave it either. My mom used to make rice pudding with leftover rice when I was growing up–she’d make a simple custard, mix it with the cooked rice and bake the whole thing like a casserole. Since this was the only rice pudding I knew, I wasn’t sure what to expect from this recipe, which called for parboiled arborio rice to be simmered with lots of whole milk and a bit of sugar and vanilla. [As many people discovered this week, the stated simmer time of 30 minutes is way too short. Mine cooked for almost 50 and was perfect.]
The rice pudding turned out to be ultra-rich and creamy, and the rice was deliciously soft while retaining a little bit of its texture. The basic recipe produced a vanilla pudding, but Dorie provided a chocolate variation. I decided to do half and half, so I made a whole batch of vanilla, then added some bittersweet chocolate to half of the pudding.
Ready to be shocked? I actually liked the vanilla variation better! I KNOW! I didn’t quite believe it either. But the chocolate pudding was so rich, it overpowered the rice and made me feel like I was eating a disturbingly chunky chocolate pudding. I might try it again using less chocolate, but I’m more likely to stick with the vanilla version, and maybe add a little lemon zest. The whipped cream was a nice addition for the photos, but I don’t think the pudding needed any accompaniment in the taste department.
I had a great time making the striped chocolate cigarettes for the photos, too. I used a method similar to the one in this video, and just used regular white and dark chocolate–didn’t even bother tempering it, although that’s probably advisable. I also didn’t have a marble slab, so I used the bottom of a well-chilled metal baking sheet and it worked like a charm. Since I have a bunch of extra striped cigars now, I guess I’ll just have to make another batch of black and white rice pudding. It’s sad, but what are you going to do?