The first time I tried rice pudding, my whole world flipped upside down and sideways. One of my best friends is from Bolivia, and back in our high school days, she would make a huge pot of arroz con leche (rice pudding) on the reg for her whole family (myself included) to enjoy. We’d eat it warm, cold, with extra sugar or milk…any way we’d choose. Arroz con Leche became my favorite thing to eat.
Like many things in life, when I idealize a food by putting it on a pedestal, I tend to stear clear of them, for fear of royally messing them up. For this reason, I shied away from making my own rice pudding for the longest time. With crock pot season in full swing and my unrelenting need for carbs and sweets, I thought I’d plug in the ol’ slow cooker and give my own version a go.
Traditionally, rice pudding is made with short grain rice, milk, cream, sugar, and sometimes cinnamon and raisins. In order to get the creamy pudding-like consistency, an egg is usually tempered in cream then added to the cooked rice. Since we’re making this recipe silly simple in a crock pot, we’re skipping the egg altogether and giving the dessert creaminess with coconut milk. In essence, we’re doing this a la vegan, my friends. If you’re an egg-tempering maven, feel free to reserve some of the coconut milk and heat it up to temper two egg yolks, adding it to the rice pudding once it’s finished slow cooking.
As it turns out, there are tons of cultures worldwide that have their own take on rice pudding. Middle Eastern and North African countries have their own take, as well as Asian, Latin American, and European countries. Some cultures use ginger and caraway for flavoring the rice pudding, where some even incorporate flour, rosewater, saffron, and/or date syrup, etc. Some cultures bake the rice pudding, where others slow cook it on the stove top. As it turns out, the Sri Lankan version of rice pudding incorporates coconut milk, which is the approach we’re taking with thishere recipe.
I figured coconut milk and rum are like two peas in a pod, so I decided to add rum once the rice had finished slow cooking. This give additional richness to the dessert without it tasting overly boozy – it just gives it that special je ne sais quois. I also added cinnamon and cardamom, and sweetened the batch with pure maple syrup to keep it warmly spiced and refined sugar-free. For those of you who crave extra sweet in your sweet treats, feel free to go heavy on the pure maple syrup, or even add some brown sugar. You can also add raisins, which plump up during the slow cooking process, and can serve the pudding with chopped nuts and/or fresh fruit.
I used Royal® Basmati Rice (the #1 best selling Basmati rice in the U.S.!) for this recipe, which is grown in the foothills of the Himalayas – the only place authentic Basmati Rice can come from. The rice is fluffy as opposed to sticky, has a distinctly delicious nutty flavor. Plus, it is lower in calories than to regular long-grain rice, if you can believe it! While I’m using the rice in a sweet application here, I’m a huge fan of basmati for pairing with curry and stir fry. I also love fancifying it in Ginger and Turmeric Aromatic Rice
Using the basmati rice in place of short-grain rice yields a more textured (less puffy, if you will) pudding, which I enjoy. For those of you who prefer your rice pudding to be tender and plumped, you can use Royal’s Arborio (short-grain) rice.
And that is all! Set it, forget it, rice pudding for breakfast!
Disclosure: This post is sponsored by Royal® Basmati Rice. All thoughts, feelings, and opinions expressed are my own. As always, thank you for supporting the brands that support this site.