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Creamy Coconut Cardamom Rice Pudding

Cookbook

The Sweet Life

Published by Bulfinch Press

This image courtesy of Tina Rupp

Editor's Note: If you love Indian food, this recipe will surely become one of your favorites for dessert. Creamy Coconut Cardamom Rice Pudding has the taste and spice that will bring your body and soul back to India, where this is an extremely popular dish. The rice pudding can also be enhanced by adding some pistachios, almonds or honey. You can also use truffles, frozen confections and other ingredients to really make the dish your own. Additionally, adding French custard and creme anglaise thickens up the dish and makes the texture even more desirable.

I spent some time in India as a college student, and the quintessential Indian rice pudding, suffused with coconut and cardamom pods, was a comfort and a pleasure throughout my travels. Ever since I started making desserts for a living, I’ve played around with these flavors-sometimes adding pistachios, almonds, or honey; sometimes using them in truffles, frozen confections, or custards-but this is, in the end, my favorite version, and a staple on the menu at Chanterelle. I’ve adapted the classic Indian recipe by thickening the coconut rice with a crème anglaise, combining French custard technique with these irresistible flavors.

Makes6

Cooking MethodBaking

CostModerate

Total Timeunder 1 hour

Make Ahead RecipeYes

Kid FriendlyYes

OccasionCasual Dinner Party, Family Get-together

Recipe CourseDessert

Dietary ConsiderationGluten-free, Halal, Kosher, Peanut Free, Soy Free, Tree Nut Free, Vegetarian

Taste and TextureCreamy, Spiced

Type of DishDessert, Pudding

Ingredients

  • ½ cup plus 2 tablespoons jasmine rice or basmati rice
  • ¼ cup sugar
  • 1 (13½-fluid-ounce) can coconut milk
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 16 cardamom pods
  • ½ cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 5 egg yolks
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Instructions

  1. Cook the rice: Preheat the oven to 325°F. Place the rice in a strainer and rinse with cold water. Place the rice in a heavy-bottomed medium-sized saucepan with 2 cups cold water. Bring the rice to a boil and immediately remove the pan from the heat. Strain the rice and discard the starchy water. Place the blanched rice back in the pan and add the sugar, coconut milk, milk, and salt. Bring to a boil, remove from the heat, and cover the pan with aluminum foil or the lid. Place the pan in the oven and bake until the rice expands, and absorbs all the liquids, 30 minutes. (If the pan is not oven-proof, transfer the rice and liquid to a metal or glass baking dish and cover with aluminum foil.) If there is still runny milk in the pan, continue to bake, covered, for another 5 to 10 minutes. When the rice is done, remove it from the oven, leave it covered, and set it aside.

  2. Make the custard (see "Cooking a stirred custard and testing for doneness" in Notes, below): While the rice is baking, make the custard. Using the bottom of a small frying pan, crush the cardamom pods to split them open. In a heavy saucepan combine the cardamom pods and seeds, ½ cup of the sugar, milk, and cream and bring to a simmer over medium heat. Remove from the heat and allow the cardamom to steep for 10 minutes.

  3. In a mixing bowl, combine the egg yolks, egg, and remaining 2 tablespoons of sugar and briskly whisk for 1 minute. Using a ladle, slowly whisk some of the hot cream into the egg mixture to warm it. Gradually pour the warmed egg mixture into the hot cream, whisking the cream constantly as you pour.

  4. Cook the custard over medium heat, stirring continuously and scraping the bottom with a rubber spatula or wooden spoon, until the custard thickens enough to coat the back of a spoon. Remove from the heat and strain the custard to remove the cracked cardamom pods and seeds.

  5. Combine the custard and the rice: Scoop the rice into a large mixing bowl. Pour the hot custard over the rice and, using a whisk, slowly whisk until all of the rice granules are dispersed evenly and the mixture is thoroughly combined. Add the vanilla extract. Allow the rice pudding to cool completely.

  6. Serving Suggestions: Serve this pudding by itself--it is wonderfully satisfying.

  7. Variations:

Notes

  1. Storage: This pudding will keep, refrigerated, for 3 days.

  2. Cooking a stirred custard and testing for doneness: Stirred custards can be tricky. Overheating can produce a custard in which the eggs curdle and the custard is potentially unusable. If your custard is overcooked it will become more liquidy with noticeable small bits of cooked scrambled eggs.

    Proteins denature through exposure to heat to form gels. In stirred custards, proteins are denatured not only through heat but also through agitation, either whisking or stirring. Agitation denatures proteins but it also helps to prevent proteins from early coagulation in two ways: by dispersing heat, so that too much heat isn’t transferred too fast; and by breaking up tightly bound proteins.

    In the presence of the right amount of heat and agitation, egg proteins unwind and reconnect, binding water, forming a gel, and gently thickening the custard. You must continuously stir custard to encourage even, consistent heating. Don’t turn the temperature up so high that the egg proteins link together so quickly and tightly that they immediately curdle. It is important to pay attention to visual and sensual clues that indicate that the proteins have linked, thickened the custard, and no longer need to be heated or stirred.

    To note the change in viscosity of a custard, dip a rubber spatula into the cooking custard and lift it 6 inches over the pan. Watch how the custard remaining on the spatula dribbles back into the pan: a thickened custard falls in teardrops, not in a runny, thin stream like uncooked milk. Run a finger along a custard-coated wooden spoon; if the custard holds the line of your finger for a few seconds, remove the custard from the heat. You can also use a thermometer and remove the custard when it reaches between 170°F and 175°F.

  3. Rescuing a curdled custard: If you do happen to curdle your custard, there is a pretty good solution to the problem. While the custard is still hot, using a blender, food processor, or stick blender, puree the curdled custard for a minute or two. The blender breaks up all the coagulated proteins and leaves them in their strandlike state suspended in liquid, making the custard smooth again. Your final result will not be as thick as a gently cooked custard, but it will have some body and it should remain creamy, not grainy, on your tongue. In some cases these proteins will link loosely with other proteins, holding some liquid and the air created through blending.

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