We were a little late getting our decorative lights up in our windows this year but once they were up, there was no opening our blinds to get natural light into our living room so my pretty foodie pictures have been non-existent during the holidays from this point forward. The day I made this rice pudding was also one of those seriously dark and dreary days so this is not my most eye-catching post AND it is filled with lots of errors on my part. This is when the holiday meltdown in my kitchen really began to pick up speed.
My first and, until recently, my last encounter with rice pudding was not positive. I am not a fan of rice in general so the idea of making pudding out of it seemed totally bizarre to me. My friend got some at our favourite restaurant in Toronto many years ago and I asked her if it tasted anything like rice. She said, no, not at all. I tasted it: bloated sweet rice. Blech!!! Since then I have not been tempted to taste it again until I saw this recipe in Food Network Magazine for Orange-Cinnamon Rice Pudding. I knew that if there was a recipe out there that would make me change my mind, this was it.
In a medium sauce pan I brought the water with orange peel, salt and butter to a boil. Then I added one cup of arborio rice until the water was mostly absorbed
This took longer than the 15 minutes in the recipe. I kept thinking to myself, just one cup of rice? Really? Did not seem like a lot but I just continued to follow the recipe.
First road block: I did not have whole milk. Fine, I can still do this. I needed four cups so I used three cups skim milk and added one cup of light cream to the sauce pan, along with two cinnamon sticks and some vanilla bean paste but you can just use vanilla.
I warmed it up on the stove and then added the cooked arborio rice mixture. You are supposed to simmer on low heat for 15 minutes until liquid is mostly absorbed. No way mine was done in 15 minutes. I had to keep simmering and simmering it.
This is where I hit the big snag. I totally did not see that this recipe called for mascarpone cheese. How I could miss it? I have no idea. I really thought I had read this recipe over from start to finish!
I have never bought mascarpone before and had no idea if my grocery store even carried it and it was too dark and rainy a day for me to leave the house plus I had the pudding on the stove… I had to come up with something else. So? I combined some sour cream, cream cheese and whipping cream in my mini chopper. Boy, did it not come together. It was lumpy and terrible looking!
The rice just did not seem to want to absorb any more liquid but there seemed to be so much left. I had no idea when to stop cooking the rice. From the recipe it was impossible to tell what it was supposed to look like. I couldn’t bother anymore and stirred in my mascarpone cheese fakeout, hoping the heat of the pudding would melt everything together. I mean, it is rice pudding, the texture is already going to be weird.
Then I added some clementine zest after removing the cinnamon sticks and orange peel.
I let the pudding come to room temperature and then put it in the fridge to chill. We had a great discussion on my Facebook page about rice pudding and I found out that a lot of people eat it warm! Not me, I wanted to taste is like I did all those years ago. Thankfully the fake mascarpone mixture did melt into the pudding and after sitting in the fridge, it did firm up and look more like what I remembered.
I braced myself for the odd texture and went past it straight to the flavour… quite delicious. Yes, I could still taste the rice (I braced myself for that too) but with the orange and cinnamon? It was quite delicate and lovely. Considering I had to get really creative with this recipe, I bet it is even better if you make this properly. Creamy, luscious, fresh scent and flavour thanks to the clementine… I shocked myself by actually liking it! This recipe makes a ton of pudding though. That one cup of rice made way more than my husband and I could eat. This is one of those dessert I just want a few spoonfuls of and here I was stuck with a giant mixing bowl of it.
If you have a big family that loves rice pudding, I highly recommend making this particular one but do it the right way, buy whole milk and mascarpone cheese!