Whether served warm or even chilled, creamy rice pudding with plump little rum raisins and fragrant vanilla bean sounds like what one should be enjoying during the holiday season because it somehow, at least in my mind, reminds me of those deliciously old-fashioned and more traditional things, and there's something quite cozy in that.
Creamy Rice Pudding, Deliciously Indulgent and a Classic Comfort
The winter season is one of festivities, merriment, little decorative lights, and comforting and cozy food. It is a favorite season of mine, one that I eagerly look forward to like a little girl looking forward to her birthday.
Sweet treats like cookies, cake and pudding are all classic winter time goodies, and a wonderfully rich and creamy, homemade rice pudding flecked with little specks of vanilla bean, studded with rum-soaked raisins and a little hint of warming spice, is no exception.
Though these days I live in Southern California, where we're lucky to get down into the low 60's in temperature during the winter holidays, I vividly remember growing up in Michigan where the winters could be brutal and bone-chillingly frigid, and nothing felt as comforting and inviting as a warm treat after being outside playing in the snow.
For me that typically meant honey-sweetened, ruby-red rosehip tea, or perhaps a cup of mom's hot cocoa, both of which were perfectly delicious and belly-warming options. But I highly doubt that I would've minded a little bowl of freshly spooned-from-the-pot rice pudding after playing out in the cold of winter, building all those snowmen or ice skating on the canal.
See, I didn't try rice pudding until I was older, but ever since the first time I tasted it, it has been a favorite of mine, and the thought of enjoying some after coming in from the cold (even these days!) just sounds a lot like a concept for a Norman Rockwell painting if you ask me, and I'm a sucker for those.
And while it may not be freezing-cold where I live now in the winter time, diving spoon first into a small bowl of this marvelous treat while it's still warm is exactly what I plan on doing this season, just because I can. 😉
Tips & Tidbits for Creamy Rice Pudding:
- Arborio rice for a creamy texture: This recipe calls for arborio rice, which is the rice used in making risotto; it yields a and slightly starchier texture and a plumper grain of rice when cooked, which makes for a wonderfully creamy rice pudding.
- Use all milk: I like to use a cup of half & half in combination with whole milk for a richer flavor, but feel free to use all whole milk, if you desire; and if possible, avoid using low-fat milk as it will not produce as creamy a rice pudding.
- Substitute pure vanilla extract for the bean, in a pinch: You can substitute about 2-3 teaspoons of pure vanilla extract in place of the paste from the vanilla bean pod, if you prefer; but the vanilla bean will offer more intense vanilla flavor and aroma.
- Chill your rice pudding: If you choose to chill your rice pudding, spoon it into mason jars (or containers with tight fitting lids) and allow it to completely cool before closing the lid, and place into fridge.
- Shelf life: Stored in the fridge, rice pudding should remain fresh for several days (if it lasts that long!).
- Make vanilla sugar out of your used up bean: It is so easy and such a great thing to make your own vanilla sugar—simply stick the scraped out vanilla bean into your container of granulated sugar (push it down so that it is covered) and it will infuse it with wonderful vanilla! You'll have that extra hint of vanilla in everything you use your sugar in.
Feast your eyes on these, or just jump to the recipe:
Creamy Rice Pudding with Rum Raisins and Vanilla Bean
by Ingrid Beer
Yield: Serves 5 (serving size is 1/2 cup)
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook time: 35 minutes
• 1/2 cup (heaping) raisins
• 3 tablespoons dark rum
• 3/4 cup arborio rice
• 5 cups whole milk
• 1 cup half and half
• 1/4 teaspoon salt
• 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
• 1 vanilla bean, scraped for its “paste”
• Pinch ground cinnamon
• Pinch (very tiny pinch) ground nutmeg
-Combine the raisins with the rum, and allow them to soak while you prepare your rice pudding.
-Combine the rice, milk, half and half, salt, sugar and paste from the vanilla bean in a medium pot, and stir; set over medium heat and bring to a vigorous simmer, then reduce heat and simmer gently for 35-40 minutes, or until the rice is tender and plump, stirring occasionally to prevent rice from sticking to bottom of pot.
-Finish by adding in the rum-soaked raisins (you can drain them of any excess rum, or dump it all right into the pudding!) and the pinch of cinnamon and nutmeg and stir to combine; divide into equal portions and serve warm, or chill completely and serve cold (for this I like to use medium size mason jars with lids).
And here's another cozy winter recipe: Winter Snow Flurry Cake