Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Cinnamon Rice Pudding with Dried-Cherry Sauce

I'm on a rice kick these days, playing around with recipes that show how versatile these simple grains can be.  Rice isn't just for the dinner table of course; simmer in your favorite non-dairy milk for a creamy rice pudding dessert.  An aromatic rice like jasmine works well for this application.

For the pudding:
  • 6 cups water
  • 1 and 1/2 cups uncooked jasmine rice
  • 1 teaspoon coarse salt
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 3 cups plain non-dairy milk
  • 1/2 cup vegan sugar
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon almond extract
For the sauce:
  • 1 cup dried tart cherries
  • 1 and 1/2 cups water
  • 2 tablespoons vegan sugar
  • 1 tablespoon water
  • 1 teaspoon cornstarch
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon almond extract
1. To make the pudding, combine 6 cups water, the rice, salt, and cinnamon stick in a large saucepan - use a heavy saucepan or you risk scorching the pudding while it cooks.  Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer, uncovered, for 20 minutes.  Drain.

2. Return the rice and the cinnamon stick to the pan, and add the milk, 1/2 cup sugar, and ground cinnamon.  Bring to a simmer over medium heat, stirring constantly. 

3. Reduce heat to medium-low and continue to cook for 30 minutes, stirring frequently; the pudding should be thick by the end.  Discard the cinnamon stick.  Remove from heat and stir in 1 teaspoon vanilla extract and 1/2 teaspoon almond extract.

4. While the pudding simmers, prepare the sauce: combine the dried cherries in a saucepan with 1 and 1/2 cups water.  Bring to a boil.  Reduce heat and simmer for 20 minutes.  Stir in 2 tablespoons sugar and cook for an additional 5 minutes.

5. Whisk together 1 tablespoon water and the cornstarch.  Add to the cherry sauce and bring to a boil; cook for a final minute or so, until slightly thick, stirring constantly.  Remove from heat and stir in 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract and 1/4 teaspoon almond extract.

Divide the pudding evenly among 8 dessert bowls, and top evenly with the sauce.

Nutrition Info:
8 servings (3/4 cup pudding, about 2 and 1/2 tablespoons sauce), Calories 290 

Tasting Notes:
My new favorite rice pudding.  The sauce tasted like a not-too-sweet cherry pie filling, and the rice pudding was cooked to perfection - tender, and creamy, but not mushy.  I loved the hints of cinnamon.

Update: I liked the pudding chilled the next day even better, so go ahead and prepare in advance.  I'm still withholding a "5" rating, however, because the strong cherry flavor detracted from my favorite part: the cinnamon, mmmm.  Next time I'll skip the almond extract in the cherry sauce and use ground cinnamon or cinnamon extract instead.


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