Brown Rice Pudding

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Following in the footsteps of my Pumpkin Raisin Bread Pudding and Pear-Cranberry Crisp, here is yet another dessert that can easily pass for breakfast. This healthier version of traditional rice pudding features fiber-rich brown rice, low-fat 1% milk, and a mere 4 tablespoons of unrefined sweetener.  Warm cinnamon, fragrant vanilla, and plumped dried cherries accent the creamy rice pudding, which is sure to fulfill your craving for a comforting dessert or hearty breakfast.

This rice pudding is delicious at room temperature, chilled, or reheated with an extra splash of milk.  It requires a bit of “babysitting” during the cooking process, but the end result is well worth the time spent hovering near the stove. Do as I did and bring some reading material into the kitchen with you, so you can easily keep an eye on the bubbling milk & rice mixture. Stirring the mixture not only ensures that the milk won’t burn, but it also helps to release the starch in the brown rice – which yields an extra creamy consistency (think of risotto).

When it comes to sweeteners, this recipe is very flexible. I initially intended to use two tablespoons each of brown rice syrup and honey, but discovered a nearly-empty brown rice syrup jar in the cupboard. You could sub in pure maple syrup, molasses, Sucanat, evaporated cane juice, or granulated sugar of your choice. Some of these sweeteners obviously have bolder flavors than others, but all would nicely compliment the nutty brown rice.

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Brown Rice Pudding

rice cooking technique borrowed from Joy the Baker

serves 4-6

Ingredients:

  • 4 cups water
  • 1 cup short-grain brown rice
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 4 cups 1% milk
  • 1 Tbsp brown rice syrup
  • 3 Tbsp honey
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • generous 1/2 cup dried fruit of choice

Directions:

  1. Rinse rice in a strainer under cold water and set aside.
  2. Bring 4 cups of water to a boil in a large, heavy-bottomed pot (such as a dutch oven). Stir in rice and salt. Lower heat to medium and simmer rice, uncovered for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  3. After 30 minutes, drain rice and water. Return rice to pot (away from the heat) and immediately cover with a tight-fitting lid. Let rice rest and steam for 10 minutes.
  4. Once the rice is cooked, place it in a bowl and set aside.
  5. Add 4 cups of milk, brown rice syrup, honey, vanilla, and cinnamon to the pot. Bring to a very low boil over medium heat, stirring often so the milk doesn’t burn. Lower heat to medium/medium-low.
  6. Add in the cooked rice and dried fruit. Cook over medium/medium-low heat, stirring frequently. If a “skin” forms, just stir it back into the pudding. Simmer until the milk cooks down and the rice is creamy, about 30 minutes. NOTE: It is especially important to tend to the pudding towards the end of the cooking time. Do not walk away from the stove, or your pudding will burn.
  7. Transfer rice pudding to a large bowl, and let cool.
  8. Serve warm or cold.

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