Winter is ending, I think. But there are still some days, like today, when it’s so grey, and wet, and clammy outside, that I just want to eat a whole bowl of rice pudding so hot I burn my tongue on it. I want to stand over a steaming pot, and stir and stir, and smell hot milk and get a little homesick. Its gross outside, but not for too much longer, so take advantage of these days and layers and eat mashed potatoes and full breakfasts and rice pudding until you feel so sick that when spring finally, finally happens you’ll be ok with all the cheerful green vegetables.
I’ve modified the classic rice pudding in the following recipe to be a bit different, adding jam and a crackly sugar top. If you don’t own a blowtorch (what student does??) you can still brulee your puddings, just put them under the broiler for a few minutes, checking frequently, until the sugar melts. If you don’t have ramekins, check out charity shops, or make this in a big oven safe dish instead.
Bruleed rice pudding with jam (Serves 8-10)
1 cup pudding rice (Arborio works well too, or even plain or basmati, but the grains won’t go as creamy)
2 cups water
pinch of salt
3.5 cups milk
1.5 cups cream
scant 2/3 cup sugar
½ nutmeg, grated, or a few pinches of ground nutmeg
Jam of your choice (I like raspberry for this)
Bring water, rice, and salt to a boil. Cover and lower the heat and simmer ten minutes or so until the rice has absorbed most of the water. Pour in milk, cream and sugar, and cook at a low heat for 30-40 minutes, stirring ever few minutes, until thick and creamy. At first it will appear that there is far too much liquid, but you just have to wait it out and it will thicken up. If you like you can always turn up the heat and just stir more frequently. In the final few minutes, grate in your nutmeg and stir in your scraped vanilla pod. Divide into ramekins in which you’ve spooned in a small amount of jam. Don’t be tempted to perfectly cover the bottom of each dish as the heat of the pudding will make the jam thin out, and too much will be too sweet and overwhelm the rice. Sprinkle each dish with a thin layer of demerara or caster sugar and brulee with a blowtorch or in a very hot oven. These can be made in advance and heated through in a 190 degree oven for 10 minutes or until hot in the centre (stab with a knife and feel if the blade is warm to make sure).