Tropical Comfort Food

This was a first for me – I don’t have any childhood memories of eating bowls of comforting rice pudding. In a household where skim milk and frozen yogurt reign, you don’t get indulgences like that. Not that I didn’t have awesome desserts growing up, just nothing that contained full-fat cream.

Eat it on a rainy day and pretend you're in the rain forest!...Or not.

I wouldn’t have even attempted to make this, but I had about a cup of leftover rice and some mango and pineapple in the fridge, and after polling the masses, the idea of tropical rice pudding won me over.

Creamy, fruity, spicy...yummy.
Creamy, fruity, spicy...yummy.

The only problem I encountered along the way was that every recipe I found for any tropical rice pudding called for coconut milk, which I didn’t have. However, I do have a LOT of dessicated coconut, so I made my own “coconut milk” by simmering some of the milk with coconut. I could have strained it afterwards but chose not to, as the coconut adds an interesting textural contrast to the creamy rice and mango and slightly chewy pineapple.

Little spicy specks...
Little spicy specks...

Coincidentally, I had just bought some cardamom pods (my first ever) a few days before, and thought they would go nicely in this dish. I used three – I should have used two. When the rice pudding is hot, it tastes AWESOME, but once it cools the cardamom makes it a little bitter. The addition of some vanilla sugar helped mellow it out a bit (plus it helped to make up for the sweetness lost by not using actual coconut milk), but I much prefer it hot anyway.

Tropical Rice Pudding (adapted from Alton Brown‘s Indian Rice Pudding)

Now I want some. Yum.
Now I want some. Yum.

1 cup cooked white rice (I used jasmine)

1 cup milk + 3/4 cup

2-3 Tbsp unsweetened dessicated coconut

1/2 cup cream (I used whipping cream because it’s what I had on hand but heavy cream works too)

1/4 cup sugar

2-3 Tbsp vanilla sugar, to taste

Seeds from 2-3 cardamom pods, crushed finely

Pinch cayenne pepper

1 small ripe mango, diced small

1/4 fresh ripe pineapple, diced small

Simmer 3/4 cup milk with the coconut, stirring occasionally. Meanwhile, Boil the rest of the milk with the rice, then decrease to low and simmer until thick, stirring frequently (much like making risotto) for about 5 minutes. Add the “coconut milk” to the rice and increase the heat to medium. Add the cream, sugars, cardamom and cayenne and cook until just thick, about 5-10 minutes. While cooking, whisk occasionally to keep the cardamom from clumping. Once it’s thick remove it from heat and stir in the mango and pineapple. Serve warm or chilled, depending on your taste.

I really wish I had some pistachios to add to this, it needs a crunchy element. Toasted sesame seeds might even be good. It reminds me of a fantastic coconut soup I once had at an Indian restaurant, which is probably why I prefer this hot.

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  1. Yum and yum! I love it and am charmed by it. And you’re not just a Daring Baker, you’re also a Daring Rice Pudding-er! Sounds wonderful. A question for you: have you tried adding a bit of salt to counteract the bitterness in the cardamom and heighten the fruit flavor? I think it will help :)

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