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Tres Leches Rice Pudding

Rice pudding is something I grew up eating frequently- my mom makes a deeply satisfying baked rice pudding in a low temp oven, cooking it for a couple hours until the milk reduces and caramelizes into lovely, sticky pockets- but this Tres Leches version is my current favorite. It's perfect for using any remaining milk I have leftover from my weekly batch of almond milk as well as the surplus of raw milk the cows are currently producing. I adapted the recipe from Amanda of Mama Eats Plants. Her instagram is such a beautiful source of inspiration to me.


This pudding is lightly sweetened, and uniquely flavored with cinnamon, star anise, orange, and vanilla, plus the flavor of coconut and almond from the plant milks. It feels lusciously tropical, which is all I want during March, the cruelest month of all in western NY. It's perfect as is, but I've also been enjoying it topped with fresh strawberries my mom grows in Florida and ships to NY every week. Caramelized pineapple and orange compote are also superb toppings. I topped my latest batch with a homemade dark caramel sauce, so dark a tinge of burnt sugar comes through which tempers the sweetness of caramel, and let's just say I wasn't even mad about it.


Be sure to use white arborio rice, which is a short grain rice- it will plump up and become creamier than long grain rice. I have used brown long grain rice, and while it lends a unique flavor, the end result is not quite as creamy as when I use arborio. The almond milk and dairy milk can be added based on what you have on hand, ideally I use 2 cups almond/4 cups raw cow's milk, but 1 cup almond milk/5 cups dairy milk also works. I like 1/3 cup sugar, but add more to taste if that suits you.


Ingredients:

-1/2 cup white arborio rice

-1/3 cup raw cane sugar

-1 can full fat, unsweetened organic coconut milk

-2 cups almond milk

-4 cups dairy milk, full fat

-1 vanilla bean, seeds scraped

-1 cinnamon stick

-2-3 whole star anise cloves

-peel of 1 orange, organic since you'll be cooking the peel

-pinch salt

Tools:

-Medium heavy bottomed pot


Method:

1.

Combine all ingredients in heavy bottomed pot, reserving about 1 cup dairy milk to add later on as needed while the pudding cooks. Add the scraped vanilla bean seeds, as well as the vanilla pod to the pot, to ensure every bit of goodness gets extracted from the pod. Cook over low heat, uncovered, stirring frequently for about 30 minutes.



2.

At this point, the rice will have absorbed a good amount of liquid, and you'll notice a more pudding-like texture start to form. Continue cooking over low heat for another 5-10 minutes. Taste the rice to see how soft it is, you want it to be very soft and creamy, not at all al dente. If the rice is still slightly firm, add about 1/4 cup milk from the cup you reserved. Continue cooking over low, and add more milk as needed until the pudding is a texture you like. Remember, the pudding will continue to thicken a bit once you chill it. I usually cook this pudding for 50-60 minutes.


3.

Serve pudding warm or chilled, topped with fresh or stewed fruit if you like.




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