Cinnamon Coconut Rice Pudding

I first discovered the whole world of food blogging when I was in college. If I remember correctly, my mother sent me a link to one of The Wednesday Chef's recipes,  and from there I bounced around the web as if fired by a slingshot. I found The Smitten Kitchen, and Tea and Cookes, and Orangette. These people were clearly kindred spirits, who cooked because it made the rest of the world a little quieter, if only for a little while.

Since then, I've had the pleasure of reading hundreds of posts and several books by these talented ladies. I've tried many of their recipes and often been bowled over by how much better my day gets after sitting down to a bowl something warm and homemade, like stewed tomatoes, peppers, and onions, topped with a poached egg and crusty bread, or jalapeño cheddar scones on a cold morning. A lot of these recipes were recreated time and time again in my little apartment kitchen, and those recipes inspired my own creations.

Last year, Jeanette from Everybody Likes Sandwiches posted her recipe for a coconut and lime rice pudding over on Poppytalk, right in the dead of winter. Made with arborio rice and coconut milk, with grated lime zest through the whole thing, it was the perfect thing to brighten up a dreary evening (I was unemployed at the time, and all the ingredients were already in the cupboards. Double win!) I made it once that winters evening, and we ate it warm, and it was comforting and fragrant and did all the things a warm pudding should do for your soul--namely make it bright and shiny all over again, instead of kind of tired and in hibernation mode. 

But then I made it again last spring, and chilled it before serving it. This time it was the perfect light dessert at the end of a dinner party, and again we were all bright and shiny by the end of the bowl (though that may have also been partially due to the wine...).

And today, I wanted it again. But alas, alack, no limes to be found in the cupboards.

So I got all fancy, and decided to try making my own variation.

A holy trinity of pudding-making. Trust me.

The recipe itself is incredibly simple. Canned coconut milk, and a few cups of the regular dairy variety go in a medium saucepan with a bit of arborio rice, a scatter of sugar and a little vanilla. From there, you can add whatever you like! Today I tried cinnamon, for an horchata-like flavor (Side note: best drink ever on a clear spring day. Am I right?). Next time, I might throw some dried berries in the mix. It's pretty much no fail, as long as you're a patient cook and stick near the stove to stir. Even if you let it go a few seconds too long between stirs and it starts to stick: never fear. Scrape the bottom of the pan as you stir and it'll all be fine. 

The best thing is, the rice does all the work here. Arborio rice (what you use for risotto) has a ton of starch in each grain, so they all work together to get nice and fat in the easiest possible way.  

Cinnamon Coconut Rice Pudding 

(adapted from a recipe byJeannette Ordas of Everybody likes Sandwiches, originally posted on Poppytalk)

2/3 cup arborio rice
14 oz (1 can) of light coconut milk
4 1/2 cups skim milk
4 tablespoons sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Add all ingredients to a medium sized pot or saucepan, and whisk thoroughly so that the cinnamon is distributed evenly. Bring everything to a boil, then turn down heat to low and let simmer uncovered for 25-35 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat when mixture thickens and rice is soft.

Pour into a bowl and let pudding cool for a few minutes. Cover with plastic wrap, pressing plastic into the top of the pudding, so that no air remains. Refrigerate for 2 hours, or overnight. 

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