While staying at home or not, rice always sits at the tops my food list. It’s a people-pleasing meal staple that truly has big entrée energy. Somehow, it's also a real champion in the dessert category.
Growing up, my Guatemalan grandmother (who was also my bff and dining buddy) was obsessed with one mushy treat in particular when her sweet tooth hit— arroz con leche. Quick translation, the Spanish version of what many in the U.S. know as rice pudding. Arroz con leche is usually made with sweetened condensed milk, cinnamon, sugar and other varied toppings like raisins. Bottomline, it’s some real deal comfort food.
Cookbook author and TV personality Chrissy Teigen reigns supreme in "lazy" comfort food recipes across the board from homemade Buffalo wings to Frosted Flakes French toast. In these current times, there's no question that I'm drawing from all kinds of chefs for inspiration to cook at home. Teigen just shared with the world her favorite version of rice pudding, and there’s a good chance you already have everything you need in your kitchen to whip it up.
This dessert tastes like a candy-confection with some nice bitter notes. In Teigen’s recipe, she adds two kickers—orange zest and shaving of a chocolate bar—to compliment the sweetness of the cinnamon, sugar and vanilla extract. I didn’t have a chocolate bar in my cupboard, but semi-sweet chocolate morsels worked the same magic. I also didn’t have heavy cream on-hand and usually like to go lighter on dairy anyways so I subbed in oat milk. The texture was slightly less creamy and thick, but it was still a sweet bowl of success. As Teigen notes on her recipe page, “If you don’t have enough milk, add more cream. If you don’t have cream, use more milk (or coconut milk or almond milk or whatever milk you’ve got – if you like your rice pudding thicker, use whole milk!).”
Note: Your milk will froth up pretty quick while you boil it so don’t go walking away to a Netflix Party or anything, or you might come back to your pot looking like a bubbling experiment.
5 ⅓ cups whole milk, plus more if needed
1 cup heavy cream, plus more if needed
⅓ cup sugar
⅓ cup light brown sugar
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon, plus more for sprinkling
1 cup rice
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon orange zest (if you have it), plus a little more for serving
Small piece of a chocolate bar (chill it for a few minutes if you can)
Generous pinch fine sea salt
1.Combine 5 cups of the milk with the cream, sugar, brown sugar, cinnamon, and salt in a medium saucepan and bring to a gentle boil over medium-low heat (make sure to watch it because that milk can boil over in a heartbeat!).
2. Stir in the rice, return to a boil, reduce the heat to medium-low, and simmer, stirring often, until the rice releases its starch and the mixture has thickened, 30 minutes (the pudding will continue to thicken as it cools).
3. Remove from the heat and stir in the vanilla and orange zest. Press foil, plastic wrap, or parchment paper on the surface of the pudding and let it come to room temperature, about 30 minutes (or chill for an hour or two if you like cold rice pudding).
4. Stir in the remaining ⅓ cup of milk to loosen, and feel free to add more milk or cream to get the consistency you want. Divide among bowls, grate some chocolate and orange zest over the pudding, and sprinkle with cinnamon if you like.
So there it is, in the coming weeks, when you’re suddenly having a doomsday moment that has you yelling out, “I need dessert and I need it now!”, you have this handy recipe to pull out of your back pocket and make you feel better.