Sunday, April 12, 2009

Almond-Vanilla Arborio Rice Pudding

I love risotto. It might be my favorite type of rice. I like its creaminess, the way the taste lingers in your mouth, and the way it looks as you cook it, absorbing all the juices and flavors from the other ingredients. So I immediately loved the idea of rice pudding made with arborio rice.

A note on vanilla: I often find when I am making desserts, recipes that call for using whole vanilla beans. Now I'm all for quality ingredients but vanilla beans are wicked expensive. I think the last time I looked at my grocery store up the street it was something like $16 for a tiny bottle that had one long bean. Being stingy, I cheated and used vanilla extract. But this is one recipe that when I make again I might actually splurge and buy that $16 bean.

Eat Rating: Awesome. Sweet and creamy, my favorite combination.
Difficulty: Very easy. (I think even Annie might agree with this one)

Adapted from Smitten Kitchen and Food Network

1/2 cup arborio rice
4 cups milk (LN: Skim works fine)
1/4 cup sugar
1 bay leaf
1 tsp vanilla (or 1 vanilla bean, cut open lengthwise)
3/4 tsp almond extract
1/4 cup raisins, currants or cranberries (optional)
Pinch of cinnamon

Combine rice, milk, sugar and bay leaf in a medium saucepan and bring to boil. (If using vanilla bean, add it to the milk mixture now). Once its boiling, reduce heat to simmer. Cook for 40 minutes, stirring ocassionally. You'll know its done once the rice has a sticky, risotto-like consistency. Remove from heat. (Don't forget to remove the bay leaf!) Stir in vanilla (if not using bean), almond extract and raisins, if desired. Spoon into dishes, sprinkle with cinnamon and serve warm.

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