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Risotto Pudding and Picking Up My Pen

July 27, 2011

I often torment myself by watching Food Network while I’m doing other things. Growing up ADD gives you ample time to discover all of the nuances of the word “multi-tasking”, and I inherited the need for background noise while I go about my life. Radio, television, my niece eating… it doesn’t matter what it is as long as it’s making noise and I don’t actually have to pay attention to it.

The one psychiatrist I ever saw about my ADD told me that this is my brain’s way of trying to compensate for what is (essentially) a lack of stimulus. Stimulus that in a normal brain would be caused by the firing of appropriate neurons and involving things like seratonin and blah blah blah hey that cloud looks kind of like a squirrel, doesn’t it?

Show of hands for anyone surprised that I don’t recall the details of that particular conversation?


I took this afternoon off, and I had several options for how to spend my time. I could have wasted time worrying about how we don’t actually have an apartment yet, or how technically I’m going to be unemployed on Friday, or even about how I’m getting in my car in two weeks and moving to Tennessee and oh my GOD I’m getting married.

But I decided instead to spend it working on my novel. Back in the fall, when I was still employed at Epping Middle School, the Language Arts teacher had the kids do a creative writing exercise, and she invited me to participate. The result was the outline of the novel that I have been slowly chipping away at for the past 6 months. Isn’t funny how life will get in the way of creative projects if you let it? Recently I made the decision that this move was as good a time as any to pick up where I had left off, and actually BE a writer instead of just wishing I was one. I’ll be honest, I have had a couple of really good girl power moments as I get back into the swing of things. The perfect soundtrack to all of this activity, naturally, was Paula Deen. God I love that woman. I worship her recipes, because everything she uses is real. Real bacon. Real oil. And… real butter.

Mmmm butter. Definitely one of mankind’s better moves.

Now, I don’t want to deep fry it or make love to it like one Ms. Deen, but I sure do appreciate the deep richness that it adds to a dish. Or the fact that you can mix it with sugar and get caramel.

Say, that gives me an idea! What better to put caramel sauce on than rice pudding? I mean, I have no qualms about just eating it straight from the pan with a spoon, but I feel that I can better justify my indulgence if it is actually going on other food before it goes in my mouth.

Now, I suspect you might be thinking– rice pudding in summer?


Cool, creamy rice pudding, with just a drizzle of caramel sauce. I like to use arborio rice (the same rice used to make risotto) because the starch of the rice makes the pudding extra creamy and reduces the overall cooking time of the dish. The only downside is that you really do need to stand right by and stir until the pudding is done so that it doesn’t burn to the pan. The end result, however, is well worth your trouble. Make this dessert this weekend for someone you like. I promise you will not regret it.

Risotto Rice Pudding

Yields about 8 1/2 cup servings
  • 1 cup arborio rice
  • 3 cups water
  • 2 T butter, divided
  • 14 oz. sweetened condensed milk
  • 1 cup golden raisins
  • 1 1/2 Tablespoons vanilla extract
  • Pinch freshly grated nutmeg
  • Pinch of cinnamon
  • Caramel Sauce, recipe follows


In a heavy-bottomed pan melt 1 tablespoon of butter over medium heat. Add rice and saute for 2 minutes, or until rice is just beginning to brown. Add one cup of water. Stir and cook until water is absorbed.

Keep stirring!

Repeat with the other two cups of water, stirring and allowing the water to be absorbed between each addition. Add remaining tablespoon of butter, sweetened condensed milk, and raisins. Stir and cook 5-10 minutes or until pudding has thickened. Remove pudding from heat and stir in 1 ½ Tablespoons of vanilla, and a pinch each of cinnamon and nutmeg. Pudding may be served a number of ways: spoon into individual ramekins and refrigerate, or scoop into bowls and serve warm. Either way, you’ll want to top it with Caramel Sauce…
Caramel Sauce
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 5 Tablespoons butter
  • ½ cup evaporated milk
  • ½ tsp. vanilla

In a heavy-bottomed 2 or 3 quart saucepan melt the sugar over medium-high heat. As soon as the sugar begins to melt use a whisk to break up any lumps.

This is what it looks like when the sugar starts to melt

When the sugar is completely melted (clear) stop whisking. You may swirl the pan at this point, but don’t stir or the sugar will crystallize. Allow the sugar to cook to an amber hue, then whisk in the butter all at once (it will foam up).

Action shot! a.k.a. it’s hard to photograph yourself whisking something…

Remove pan from the heat, count to 3, and whisk in the evaporated milk (mixture will foam a lot). Continue whisking until caramel is smooth and bubbling has subsided. Whisk in the vanilla. Pour into a clean mason jar and store in the fridge for up to 2 weeks. Allow to come to room temperature, or reheat gently before serving.
A few notes:
You’ll want to have all the ingredients ready to go before you begin– once the sugar melts the process goes quickly, and if you’re running around looking for things the sugar will burn.
This caramel sauce is a little thinner than if you were using heavy cream (which you may certainly do if you have it on hand). It’s perfect for drizzling over ice cream, rice pudding, or from a spoon straight into your mouth!
I meant to take a picture of the rice pudding drizzled with sauce, but I ate it before that happened.

Wanna see my empty bowl instead?


2 Comments leave one →
  1. greenbanditpress permalink
    July 27, 2011 13:20

    This looks so good. I take it arborio rice is a short-grained variety?


    • July 27, 2011 14:03

      You got it! I really like short-grained rice for puddings because of the texture– a little chewy without feeling like a meal 🙂


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