Bake with Michelle Darmody: Making desserts with rice

To me there is something deliciously comforting about a warm bowl of rice pudding. For others rice pudding brings up dreaded memories of cold coagulated boarding school fare. 

If you are one of these people I hope that you will give it another go and test some of the recipes included here.

In Tudor times rice pudding was called Whitepot and there are written recipes for it recorded in the early sixteen hundreds.

The most traditional flavourings are either nutmeg or cinnamon and sometimes it is served with the addition of raisins. 

When I was a child I stirred in a spoon of blackcurrant or raspberry jam and delighted in watching the creamy white turn a bright, purply pink.

I use a short stubby grained rice when making both stove top and baked rice pudding, which is not dissimilar to arborio, which is used for risotto.

When visiting India I reveled in the selection of sweet rice treats. 

There were variations with cardamon or some infused with a delicate hint of saffron, others with the sweet aroma of rosewater and a sprinkling of chopped pistachio. 

In India a dessert of this sort is better know as Kheer and is often made with coconut milk.

Many Asian countries have their own variation. Basmati or jasmine rice are the most common varieties used and often broken grains are stored and then utilised when making puddings. 

In Thailand a stickier glutinous rice is prevalent. Glutinous rice has a strange texture to some pallets when people are not familiar with it. 

It is glassier and more transparent and it really sticks together. 

It is mainly served with chopped mango but other tropic fruit such as banana or pineapple work just as well.

Baked Rice Pudding

A knob of butter for the dish

100g of short grain pudding rice

40g of golden caster sugar

500 mls of milk

200 mls of coconut milk

2 tsp of vanilla essence

½ tsp of ground cinnamon

½ tsp of ground nutmeg

Preheat your oven to 150 degrees. Butter an oven proof dish that is at least 800mls in volume.

Stir the rice, sugar, milk, coconut milk, vanilla, cinnamon and nutmeg together and pour it into the prepared dish.

Bake for two hours until the pudding is set but still has a little wobble.

Thai rice dessert with tropical fruit and toasted sesame 

250g of glutinous rice 330mls of coconut milk 70g of sugar A pinch of sea salt 1 tbsp of sesame seeds, lightly toasted Mango, banana or pineapple, peeled and sliced It is best to soak glutinous rice in cold water overnight then drain it before use.

Place the drained rice into a metal steamer and balance this securely and snugly over large saucepan of simmering water, place a lid on the steamer.

Steam the rice for 30 to 40 minutes, or until it is tender.

In the meantime heat 240mls of the coconut milk with 50g of the sugar and the salt, stirring until the sugar is dissolved and it is just about to boil, then it remove from heat.

Place the rice and warm coconut milk mixture into a bowl and allow the rice to soak up the liquid for about half an hour.

Use the rest of the coconut milk and sugar to make a sauce by heating them both together and simmering for five minutes.

Set aside and pour over the rice as you serve it with the fruit and a sprinkling of toasted sesame seeds.

Sweet rice and saffron tart

For the pastry:

140g of cold butter, cut into cubes

225g flour

55g of golden caster sugar

1 egg

For the filling:

1.25 litres of milk

A generous pinch of saffron

5 cardamon pods, lightly crushed

2 tsp of vanilla essence

140g of short grain pudding rice

110g of golden caster sugar

2 eggs, lightly beaten and some extra for glazing

Rub the butter into the flour, until it looks like rough breadcrumbs, do not over mix.

Stir the sugar into the egg, mix it lightly and add to the flour with a fork. Bring together with your hands then rest the pastry for an hour in the fridge or overnight if you wish.

Heat your oven to 180C and grease a 9- inch tart tin.

Roll the pastry so it is just larger than the case. Gently place it into the tin pressing it slightly so that it fits. Trim around the edges to neaten it.

Bake the case blind by putting a circle of parchment and some dried beans onto pastry and bake at 180C for 15 minutes. Remove the parchment and beans and bake for a further 10 minutes. Set aside to cool.

Heat the milk, saffron and cardamom until just beginning to boil. Add the rice and sugar. Cook for 35 to 45 minutes over a very low heat, stirring regularly. The rice will begin to soften and the milk will thicken.

You will need to stir it a lot towards the end.

Once the rice is soft take it off the heat and carefully remove the cardamom pods with a teaspoon. Stir in the vanilla and leave to cool, stirring occasionally. Once the mixture has cooled to room temperature stir in the eggs until completely combined.

Heat the oven to 220C. Pour the cooled rice mixture into the pastry case and smooth out the top of it. Brush the top with the beaten egg.

Bake for 10 minutes at 220C then lower the heat to 180C. Baking for a further 25 to 30 minutes until golden.

Allow to cool for a while in the tin then when it is cool enough to handle place onto a wire rack.

Thai rice dessert with tropical fruit and toasted sesame

250g of glutinous rice

330mls of coconut milk

70g of sugar

A pinch of sea salt

1 tbsp of sesame seeds, lightly toasted

Mango, banana or pineapple, peeled and sliced

It is best to soak glutinous rice in cold water overnight then drain it before use.

Place the drained rice into a metal steamer and balance this securely and snugly over large saucepan of simmering water, place a lid on the steamer.

Steam the rice for 30 to 40 minutes, or until it is tender.

In the meantime heat 240mls of the coconut milk with 50g of the sugar and the salt, stirring until the sugar is dissolved and it is just about to boil, then it remove from heat.

Place the rice and warm coconut milk mixture into a bowl and allow the rice to soak up the liquid for about half an hour.

Use the rest of the coconut milk and sugar to make a sauce by heating them both together and simmering for five minutes.

Set aside and pour over the rice as you serve it with the fruit and a sprinkling of toasted sesame seeds.

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