Rice pudding is kind of like the mac and cheese of the dessert world. Everybody loves it, everybody has a favorite recipe for it, and it can be changed up in a million ways, but why would you want to? Normally I’d say that I like my rice pudding creamy and straight up, with loads of vanilla bean specks and that’s it. But this recipe for a fresh coconut variation is a good example of why you should never get too cozy with the status quo.
When you make rice pudding with rich coconut milk, fresh coconut meat, and a splash of dark rum along with that vanilla bean, and then sneak it warm from the pan, it defies description. I feel like this is a just reward for all my efforts battling the Whole Coconut the other day.
For this recipe I use arborio rice, which is the short grain Italian rice used for risotto. It’s got such great chewy texture and so much natural starch that I think it makes the creamiest pudding. It’s a perfect choice because I always have a half box left in the cupboard after one risotto. or another.
This is also a great time to use upthose leftover vanilla beans. After I scrape out the seeds for a recipe, I always put the used pod back in the jar for later use. Those things keep on giving, let me tell you. Just dust them off and put them away for another day, there are so many gazillions of vanilla seeds in each pod, and you want to get your money’s worth! I keep one jar for the used and one for the fresh.
The toasted coconut on top add a nice sweetness and crunch. It gives it some visual appeal, too, if you’re serving this to guests.
I like this recipe because it can all be done on the stove. That just makes it seems like quick and easy project when I don’t have to mess with the oven. It can be eaten hot or cold, so it’s a dessert for all seasons, and if you’re a rice pudding lover I don’t have to tell you that it makes the best midnight snack and an even better breakfast.
My recipe calls for fresh grated coconut meat, and that is best for this pudding, but you could use packaged coconut, just make sure to get unsweetened. If you use sweetened, you will need to cut down on the amount of sugar.
Creamy Coconut Rice Pudding ~~~adapted from Serious Eats
1 cup arborio rice
a couple of recycled vanilla beans
13.5 oz can of coconut milk
1/3 cup sugar
1/2 cup fresh grated coconut meat
1 tsp vanilla bean paste
1 tsp coconut extract
1 Tbsp dark rum (or 1 tsp rum extract)
1/2 cup heavy cream (or more coconut milk for a vegan version)
1/3 cup sweetened shredded coconut, toasted *
- Cook the rice in 4 cups water for 15 minutes.
- Drain and return the rice to the pan and add the coconut milk, vanilla bean pods, sugar, coconut meat, rum, vanilla paste and coconut extract.
- Bring up to a simmer and cook on low for about 15 to 20 minutes, stirring constantly, until thick and the rice is tender.
- Stir in the heavy cream, remove the vanilla pods, and ladle the pudding into serving dishes.
- Top with toasted coconut and enjoy hot, or refrigerate until chilled.
* To toast the coconut, spread it out in a small saute pan and cook over medium low heat, stirring constantly, until it turns a golden brown. It can burn in an instant, so watch it very carefully.
How do you do rice pudding?