Vegan, Gluten Free and Sugar Free
When I was young my sister and I went through a rice pudding phase. A rice pudding phase so intense that for a while afterwards, every time someone mentioned eating rice pudding I thought back on that experience as the dark days. I can now think of that time quite fondly, when I would eat one or two packets of cold, gloopy rice pudding every single day. It was an important part of my childhood, and many people’s childhoods, to get completely obsessed with a certain packaged product and eat so much of it you eventually want to exorcise every box from the face of the earth (for me this includes Easy Mac, frozen packets of dim sims and Yoplait vanilla cream…shudder).
It was a shame to get sick of rice pudding though because I’d never actually tried the real deal, not straight out of a packet. I mean…has anyone? I know people in Europe eat it on Christmas Eve and hide an almond inside as a prize, but in Australia the only rice pudding I’ve ever seen is in a packet or a can. We’re not really rice pudding people. Come to think of it, the only place I’ve seen rice pudding as a popular choice on the menu was at the old person’s centre I used to volunteer at.
Well things are about to change! Because rice pudding is actually really delicious, and it’s naturally gluten free. You can use basically any milk you want, including soy and almond (the best is coconut) making it naturally vegan as well. I made a seriously vanilla-flavoured simple rice pudding with almond milk, topping it with fresh blueberries. I was tempted to make a coconut version and top it with mango slices, or maybe a cinnamon and ginger version topping it with poached rhubarb. But I decided to stick with simple for the first go.
I used a mash-up recipe from Jamie’s America and Lebovitz’s Ready for Dessert, for the sole reason that the recipe claimed to make the ‘creamiest rice pudding ever’. I don’t know about you, but I can never resist a recipe that claims to be the best. I know! So naive. I chose to make my pudding over a stove, meaning I had to stir it basically constantly for the last twenty minutes. If you really don’t want to do that I guess you could do it Jamie’s way and bake it in the oven, but it’s pretty fun stirring the rice until it’s as creamy and thick as you like it. I had so much fun making and photographing this pudding because it was so easy and homely. There was no fear of melting ice cream or ugly brown or strange flavours. Just simple old vanilla rice pudding.
This pudding is really delicious and thick despite the handful of humble ingredients and minimum fuss to make it. It’s delicious warm but also great cold, so try it both ways and see what you prefer. Experiment with toppings and different milks and tell me how they go!
On another note, I’m getting super excited about summer and going away! I’ve been busy making lots of posts that I can put up over the weeks I’m not here so there’ll be lots of things still going on, don’t worry! Hopefully there will be wifi and hopefully that wifi will allow wordpress to be accessed…otherwise I don’t really know what’s going to happen! I’m also hoping that it won’t actually be minus 13 degrees in Budapest but hey! We can only hope and pray.
Creamy Rice Pudding: Adapted from here
150g (3/4 cup) aborio rice (risotto rice)
1.25 litres (1.32 quarts) almond, rice or coconut milk (or cows milk)
100g maple syrup or honey
1 vanilla bean, split in half
1 pinch salt
Put all the ingredients in a medium-large saucepan over a low heat, scraping out the vanilla seeds into the pot and putting in the bean as well. Stir to combine the syrup and bring to a simmer. Stir every now and again to stop a skin forming and stop the rice from sticking. As the rice thickens stir constantly until the pudding looks like a soupy risotto. Turn the heat off and the pudding should thicken a little immediately. Serve with fresh fruit or stewed fruit. If refrigerated first, add a little more milk to thin it down a bit. Serves 4-5 people.