Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Tuesdays with Dorie—Arborio Rice Pudding

Arborio Rice PuddingThis week is rice pudding, one of my all-time favorite desserts. I can't believe I used to groan whenever my mom made it when I was growing up. I was missing out. It has since become a Christmas Eve traditional dessert in our family. One bowl gets an almond in it, and that person gets to open a gift. Now that there are a few kids around the table, somehow the almonds end up in their bowls.


Rice: wild, Arborio, Basmati, converted, sushi, white
Clockwise from top:
wild, Arborio, Basmati, converted, sushi, white

These are all the bags of rice I had in my cupboard. I usually use Basmati, wild or converted (which means partially cooked) as a side dish and always converted for the rice pudding recipe I usually use. I have sushi rice (also called Japanese rice) on hand for the very rare time I try to make sushi at home.

Since I had all these bags on hand, I thought I'd make four batches of rice pudding using Arborio, Basmati, converted, and sushi rice.

Here are my surprising results:
1. My favorite was the Basmati, but it had more grown-up appeal. It had a herbal flavor, and I'd love to try it with lavender someday.
2. Sushi rice was my next favorite. It has a subtle flavor that picks up the sweetness of the pudding nicely.
3. Arborio, like the Sushi rice, was nice but not flavorful enough.
4. I didn't like the converted version. It was too bland. Too much like a side dish of rice.
Boiling four bowls of rice and milk at once is not recommended. If you turn your back for a second, milk will boil over and be all over your stovetop. And you might burn your finger on the hot handle of one while another boils over. Not that this happened to me this week. Just sayin'.

Ingredients for Arborio Rice Pudding
¼ cup Arborio rice
2 cups water
3¼ cups whole milk
¼ cup sugar
1½ tsp or 1 tbsp vanilla
1½ or 3 ounces bittersweet chocolate

You can find the recipe for Arborio Rice Pudding in the book Baking: From My Home to Yours by Dorie Greenspan or here. To see how the rest of the TWD group fared with this week's recipe, click here and then click on each blogger! Thanks to Isabelle from Les gourmandises d’Isa who chose the recipe for this week.

Update: There is a typo in the cookbook. The cooking time should be 55 minutes (not 30 minutes).

Arborio Rice PuddingRecipe for Creamy Oven-Baked Rice Pudding
from Today's Parent

This is my favorite rice pudding recipe.

⅓ cup rice
3 cups hot milk
¼ cup sugar
2 tablespoons butter
¼ cup raisins
1 teaspoon vanilla
½ teaspoon cinnamon

Preheat oven to 250°F. Butter a casserole dish. Stir in rice, hot milk, sugar, and butter. Pour into greased casserole dish. Bake uncovered for 2½ hours, stirring every half-hour. Add raisins in the last half-hour. Remove pudding from oven. Stir in vanilla and cinnamon.

Arborio Rice PuddingTasting Notes
I halved the Arborio recipe and made half with bittersweet chocolate and half with vanilla extract. I've never had chocolate rice pudding before, and it was delicious. But I prefer the traditional rice pudding. Although this recipe was good, I like my tried-and-true version of rice pudding. It's made in a slow oven, so no chance of it boiling over. And, I've learned that I'd rather use sushi or Arborio rice in my version next time. I'll save the Basmati version for more experimental eaters.
"When they didn't give him boiled mutton, they gave him rice pudding, pretending it was a treat."
Charles Dickens, 'The Schoolboy's Story' (1853)
Recipe for Next Week (November 25)
Thanksgiving Twofer Pie on page 321 chosen by Vibi from La casserole carrée.

My Bucket List
  • Go to Arborio, Italy.

  • A Meme
    Sweet Diva from The Sugar Bar tagged me with a random facts meme. I was supposed to come up with seven, but here are five. Feel free to play along.

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    Audrey said...

    I bet that oven-baking takes a lot of the stress out of cooking something like this that's little finicky - I've seen recipes for oven-baked risotto that I want to try someday. (I'm enjoying your bucket list, by the way ...)

    Cathy said...

    How wonderful that you made this with several different types of rice; it's so interesting to read your comparisons! Isn't it funny the rice pudding "associations" we bring from our childhoods? Now I know that I was missing out, too! This is a great recipe. Yours looks superb!

    Anonymous said...

    I'm a total summer person too. I hate winter--and I live in Southern California! I freeze here. I don't know what I would do if I lived in a place with a real winter.

    I can't believe you tried the different kind of rices. My favorite rice pudding recipe uses basmati rice.

    PheMom said...

    You know, I'm not much of a rice pudding fan, but that ovenbake one could change my mind. I love that shot of all the different rices. Fantastic as always!

    Marie Rayner said...

    Loved the pictures and your narrative, very informative!! I thought this rice pudding was a bit too runny, but did taste quite good. I just drained off some of the liquid and dug in anyways!

    Steph said...

    I was so excited when I saw all the different types of rice you used. I love it when do comparisons, plus I trust you! I can't believe I forgot about sushi rice.. I could have used that so my rice pudding would actually be pudding. I love it when rice is infused with flavour too!

    Mari said...

    I think I'd like Basmati rice or some other fragrant rice even better then Arborio too, but I'm sure all of your versions were tasty!

    The Food Librarian said...

    4 types?! Okay, overachiever award to Steph! These all look good. I'm going to basmati rice next!

    Laura said...

    I'll have to try that oven baked rice pudding - sounds wonderful. I love your photos and the cinnamon sugar on the cups - beautiful!

    Anonymous said...

    I love that you always experiment and try all different sorts of options. I have the basmati on hand, and may give that a try. Great pictures, as usual!

    Jules Someone said...

    Interesting use of rice. I just stuck to plain old basmati. Nice photos!

    Chantal said...

    oh, thank u thank u thank u!!!!!!!
    i want to do a chai spiced rice pudding and am actually in the process of testing it with basmati rice (which is all i have on hand at the moment)...here i am torturing myself as to whether i should go to the supermarket an get some arborio to test the results or just keep everything indian by stickin with the basmati, then came your blog HALLELUJAH, u answered my question :) thank u very much!

    vibi said...

    AW! That's the Shari I know and love!
    What courage you have, three rice testing is definately out of my league!
    But the best is even if delicious... when soupy is not your friend... make it a Shari-cocktail!
    Love, love the idea... I can't get over your creativity!

    Anonymous said...

    Shari, this oven baked recipe is the one you sent with your Christmas letter a few years ago and it has become a hands down favorite in our house ever since. Easy AND delicious. Thanks!
    (Looking forward to this year's recipe!)

    Anonymous said...

    i adore rice pudding! these look great :) i love autumn. it's my favourite season, but i'm glad to hear you're a summer person! i always think summer people are wonderfully fun. x

    Maria said...

    Wow, you went all out on this one. I love that you tried so many rices!! Good job!

    Jamie said...

    I didn't have much luck with the rice pudding. :( Mine was really soupy. I may have to try your baked version though -- I still have some whole milk leftover!

    I have a couple of bloggy questions. Would you mind helping me out? How do you get the neat note above this for leaving a comment? And where did you find the neat graphic at the bottom that allows readers to share, stumble, etc.?? I'd love some advice!


    Beth G. @SweetLifeKitchen said...

    Wow- that's awesome that you got so creative! This was my first time making rice pudding and I can't wait to experiment with some different methods and rice!

    Anne said...

    I love the story about the almond and Christmas- that sounds like a fun tradition! Thanks for the info about the different types of rice. I have many sitting in my cupboard but I've never gone through and tested them all!

    chocolatechic said...

    Great idea, dipping the serving dishes.

    I have never heard of oven baked rice pudding.

    Katie said...

    My mom loves rice pudding and I was just telling her how I thought Arborio rice would make a really nice one!

    Isabelle Lambert said...

    j'adore les photos que tu as faites ! c'est superbe !

    Anonymous said...

    Great experiments! It looks so inviting, but a little liquidy hey? Try glutinous rice, that's the asian style! Learnt that just on Sunday when my gramma coincidentally made asian rice pudding while I was making Dorie's!

    kimberly salem said...

    lovely pics! thanks for the recipe and your rice comparison too, great idea :)

    Spike said...

    That looks really good, now I'm sorry I missed this week

    Engineer Baker said...

    Wow, I almost tried multiple different variations, but then ran out of time. Ever tried quinoa? I was curious about trying that one, but I chickened out :)

    Peggy said...

    What a great way to compare different rices! but a lot of work for you? I've never had oven baked before. Would love to try it. I'm the same as you about fall. I hate winter weather!

    Anonymous said...

    Yum, that looks delicious! I actually attempted rice pudding about a month ago but unfortunately didn't fully cook the rice, so it was, uh, crunchy rice pudding... Maybe I'll give your recipe a try so we can have the REAL deal!

    Nancy/n.o.e said...

    Thanks, Shari for doing all the heavy lifting on rice comparisons! I will definitely try sushi rice. We use short grain rice a lot around here, sticky is our favorite way to eat rice. I'm also glad to get your favorite recipe. Yum!!

    Stacey Snacks said...

    My rice pudding always comes out too heavy and gets hard instead of creamy!
    You sound like a rice pudding expert, so I will try it your way, with basmati.
    Thanks for the step by step!
    Stacey Snacks

    Anonymous said...

    Beautiful photos...great post...learned a lot...love the bucket list you have been doing, take me along...and the fun things about you were really fun...and funny, especially the one about the driving! Oh, yeah, and the pudding looks lovely also.

    dharmagirl said...

    Thanks for all of your experimentation! I love the idea of lavender basmati...mmm.

    I also love the Dickens quote:)

    And, I'm with you on the seasons. It's in the 20s here in WI and I'm nearly perpetually cold. Sigh. Summer will be a long time coming...

    Manggy said...

    Thank you for the tips on the different kinds of rice-- I have a bag of sushi rice here that needs attention, heh heh :)

    Carol Peterman/TableFare said...

    I suffered a milk boil-over with one of my batches, so the oven version is very appealing. I bought quince for the first time recently and made some quince apple jam that is really good. Isn't it cool how they turn pink when you cook them for a long time?

    Anonymous said...


    You always do such a great job and I love this pudding experiment, great idea! Overall, we looked this recipe and can not wait to have again!

    NKP said...

    I don't like winter either - what are we doing in Ontario? The pups are not happy with the cold. I keep trying to tell them it is only going to get worse.
    I love the fact that you did a study in rice puddings, I would like to try the basmati one - with raisins.

    thecelticcookinshanghai said...

    Made the rice pudding last night, using arborio. It tasted really good. My husband was delighted, this is one of his favourite desserts, but sadly one I rarely make but from now on it will become part of my repetoire.Thanks

    Flourchild said...

    Great looking pudding..your pictures are nice. I wasn't to thrilled with this recipe but Im glad I tried it!

    Lori said...

    I usually make it the old fashioned way, standing there stirring until my arm falls off. I have been looking for a baked one for a while now. Thank you.

    (I think I would love the sushi one just because it so glutinous!)

    AmyRuth said...

    My Mom is allergic to milk products so we didn't have rice pudding around the house. I missed out too. Nice that I found it, finally. Glad you and your family enjoyed and I think I'm a fan of the vanilla as well.

    Pamela said...

    Regarding your meme posts: Cold hands are the PITS!! I'm very impressed by the variety of rices you used. Nice job.

    Shari said...

    audrey - It is so much easier to bake this in the oven than using the stovetop! Oven-baked risotto sounds like a great idea too.

    cathy - I wish I hadn't been so picky as a child. I guess my kids are getting back at me.

    pinkstripes - Oh, SC would be heaven for me!

    phemom - The oven-baked version is so good and easy. Plus I'm sure you could use Dorie's ingredients and the method for oven-baking.

    marie - I should have drained some off too.

    steph - It was fun to taste all the different rices.

    mevrouw cupcake - Jasmine rice would be good too, I bet.

    the food librarian - Thanks!

    laura - You're sweet!

    madam chow - Experimenting is fun!

    jules someone - You used my favorite - basmati.

    chantal - Chai rice pudding soounds great!!

    vibi - I definitely don't need all the different versions of rice pudding in the fridge! I keep sneaking bites during the day. Not good.

    anonymous - I have so many new recipes to choose from this year.

    diva - I like to think I'm fun! ;)

    maria - Thanks!

    jamie - Mine was soupy too, but I loved it anyways. Hope you got my email...

    beth g - Rice pudding is such a good base recipe to experiment with.

    anne - Sounds like your cupboard is as full as mine!

    chocolatechic - Thanks!

    katie - Hope you make it!

    isabelle - Great pick this week, Isabelle!

    eunice - Good point! Loved your Asian version. Looked delicious.

    kim - Thanks!

    spike - Make it someday, if you can. It's easy.

    engineer baker - Quinoa sounds like a good one to experiment with!

    peggy - Just lots of dishes this week!

    katie - My oven-baked version is so easy, and you definitely don't end up with crunchy rice at the end.

    n.o.e. - I love sticky rice too, but sticky rice as rice pudding is even better!

    stacey snacks - Hope you give it a try!

    kayte - Sure, come along. I'll meet you in France!

    dharmagirl - I always feel better in January when Spring is "coming". :)

    manggy - It's a good way to use up some sushi rice!

    carol peterman - I've had one too many milk boil-overs this week!

    chez us - Rice pudding is very popular in our house too.

    natashya - I'm not sure why I ended up in Ontario, but there aren't too many places in canada that are warm during the winter months anyway. Oh well.

    jacqui - That's great!

    flourchild - Thanks!

    lori - I should have stirred and stirred so that the pot wasn't so hard to clean afterwards!

    amyruth - Good to know it will be part of your dessert repertoire now!

    pamela - I feel like wearing gloves in the house sometimes 'cause I get so cold!

    Thanks, everyone! You're the best!

    Kimberly Johnson said...

    Beautifully done! Love the presentation.

    Melissa said...

    Your rice pudding looks fabulous! I wouldn't have thought to mix the rices, but it's a great idea!

    Mary Ann said...

    I can't believe you made so many different kinds! I had to laugh about your comment with all the milk boiling at the same time. I really liked this recipe and yours looks delicious. I haven't ever made rice pudding. I am interested in trying your favorite recipe that you posted here.

    Megan said...

    4 different kinds? Ok, Superwoman, that is truly amazing. I love rice pudding, but I will make my usual recipe next time.........or try yours!!

    PS - If you like the warm weather, come to Vegas. It's 79 degrees here right now.

    Linda said...

    Shari, your blog is such a treat to read! Basmati is a staple in my pantry, and for whatever reason never thought to use it for rice pudding (duh!).

    I've been very curious to try an oven baked rice pudding, and I must try your recipe.

    Anonymous said...

    Shari, I love that you tried several different kinds of rice for this recipe. I happened to have arborio rice on hand so I didn't even think to try a different type of rice.

    Annette said...

    Impressive! Not to mention creative. I'd love to try this recipe with basmati rice. Sounds intriguing. Great job!

    Heather B said...

    The oven baked one sounds delicious! I usually bake mine and found it odd that this recipe didn't. Great job on all four of yours!

    Anonymous said...

    I need to try the oven baked kind. Not like mom taught me. thanks

    Unknown said...


    For the rice, if I use sushi rice, is it the serving amount the same?
    You said you put it in the slow cooker - how long do you leave it for?