Monday, December 28, 2015

DESSERT: ARROZ CON DULCE (Sweet Rice Pudding) Recipe

Hope everyone enjoyed the Christmas holiday.  I was grateful to have a week off of work to spend at home, as well as with family.  With my free time, I spent a great deal in the kitchen cooking.  Specifically, I decided to try my hand at preparing a traditional, Puerto Rican family dessert called arroz con dulce (translation: sweet rice pudding).

My mom prepared a batch the weekend before. But since she lives too far, I wasn't fortunate enough to get some (boo-hoo).  Seeing pictures, got me in the mood to have some!  So, I called her up to discuss the details of the recipe.  This family recipe was passed on from my great grandmother (my Abuelita).  I have wonderful memories of my Abuelita, growing up as a teen.  She was a kind soul with a sweet smile.  Anything she cooked or baked you could tell was made with love.  Nothing tastes like her dishes, no matter how many times you try to re-create it.

For those who have made this dessert before or want to try it for the first time, it is labor intensive and something you don't want to rush (i.e., cooking on high heat).

Here's what you'll need:
  • 4 cups of small grain rice (or medium)
  • Whole cloves (apprx. 20-25)
  • 2 pieces of fresh ginger, peeled and mashed
  • 6-7 cinnamon sticks
  • 1 can of coconut milk (Goya)
  • 1 can, Coco Lopez or Goya brand - cream of coconut 
  • 1 can, sweetened condensed milk
  • 2 cans, carnation evaporated milk
  • 2 cups, raisins (a generous amount).  You can leave this out if you don't like raisins
  • 2 tbsp vanilla extract (real vanilla extract; not imitation)
  • 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
  • ground cinnamon for garnishing

I had trouble finding small/short grain, white rice.  My supermarkets don't carry it for some reason.  I ended up using medium grain for this recipe.  I also soaked my raisins in rum (but you really couldn't taste it and you don't have to add this).

One thing to note, when adding sugar to the mixture, I started off with a cup and slowly added a little at a time.  The original recipe called for three cups of sugar, but that would have been too sweet for me.  My mom said she doesn't measure so taste as you go.

  1. Place 4 cups of uncooked short or medium grain rice in a large bowl, cover the rice with water. Let it soak overnight.  You want your rice to be extra soft, when cooking.
  2. The next day, drain the water and set aside.  Don't let it sit out for too long; it will dry out.
  3. Fill a large pot (I used a stock pot) with 8 cups of water and combine cinnamon sticks, cloves, and ginger; bring to boil.
  4. Once the water has turned brown in color, allowing the flavors of the spices to blend, you can now strain the spices in a large bowl or pot.  
  5. Place the pot of your spiced water on the stove and add the uncooked rice; bring to boil and add the raisins.
  6. Once the water starts to disintegrate, stir in coconut milk, cream of coconut, sweetened condensed milk, evaporated milk, vanilla extract and sugar to taste; simmer on low heat.
  7. Frequently stir rice mixture and make sure to stir in a folding motion so that the rice won't stick to the bottom of the pot.  Keep doing this in 15 minute increments for a few hours.
  8. The mixture will be ready when it is has a creamy like pudding consistency, not soupy or liquidity.
  9. Divide rice mixture on dinner plates, pie plates or desert cups.
  10. Sprinkle ground cinnamon, while mixture is still hot. This will ensure the cinnamon sticks to the rice pudding.
  11. Let it cool to room temperature before covering with saran wrap; refrigerate for at least 2 hours before eating.
  12. To serve, cut into wedges or fill a dessert cup with a generous spoonful.

The spices have been boiling for 20 minutes and you can see the brown color
After straining all the spices, your spice water is now ready for the rice.
Adding the raisins 
This is pretty much the consistency you will see after adding all of the milk and creams, vanilla and sugar.  Keep stirring, checking every 15 minutes or so, keeping your flame on low. This process takes the longest (a few hours).  Have patience and don't put the flame on high or you will burn your rice.  Keep stirring!
After a few hours, on a low heat setting, you will start to see the rice thicken up
Thickening up to the consistency you want.
Poor in a dish and sprinkle with cinnamon 

Allow the arroz con dulce to cool down at room temperature before placing in the refrigerator.  You can cover with saran wrap after it has cooled and place in the fridge.

Once it's ready, display in your favorite dish or bowl and present to your dessert to family/friends.

I brought a plate over to my in-laws on Christmas Eve.  My stepmother-in-law's mother (who's in her 80's) tasted my arroz con dulce and said it tasted just like her mom used to make.  I was beyond excited and relieved she liked it.  Coming from a Latina woman (an elder at that), is saying A LOT!!!

Looking forward to the last few days of 2015 and looking forward to nothing but good things for 2016.  Thank you all for following along on my blog showing interest and support.  It means the world to me and it's what helps me keep going!

I'll be back a week from now (January 4).  For now, wishing everyone a happy and healthy New Year!


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