"Karen DeMasco has come up with a rice pudding that surpasses the cafeteria tray by leaps and bounds."
Rice pudding is mostly served in places where dessert is more of an afterthought than the main event. It's the go-to dessert of cafeterias and diners, a mandatory sweet that can easily be made by those who aren't blessed with baking expertise. Most of the time, even when rice pudding is good, it isn't really all that great.
Thinking about rice pudding analytically, there's really no reason why it shouldn't be a great dessert. It's basically rice broken down to the point of creaminess, enriched with cream and spiked with cinnamon. Using these simple ingredients plus a little culinary know-how, pastry mastermind Karen DeMasco has come up with a rice pudding that surpasses the cafeteria tray by leaps and bounds.
Jasmine Rice Pudding from The Craft of Baking employs three elements to make this humble pudding into something special. First off, run-of-the-mill short grain rice is replaced with jasmine rice, a long grain Thai variety with a distinctly nutty aroma.
Secondly, DeMasco slowly adds liquid to the rice as if she's adding stock to a risotto, ensuring that the rice is the creamiest. Lastly, she adds crème fraîche, which imparts a slight tang, reminiscent of sour cream but much more buttery. All of these innovations make for a grown up rice pudding that would have your lunch lady scratching her head through her hair net, but that's probably a good thing.
As always with our Cook the Book feature, we have five (5) copies of The Craft of Baking to give away this week.
- 1/2 cup jasmine rice
- 2 cinnamon sticks, broken
- Zest from 1/2 lemon, removed in strips with a vegetable peeler
- 2 cups whole milk
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/2 cup crème fraîche
In a medium saucepan, combine the rice, cinnamon sticks, and lemon zest. Set the pan over medium-low heat and cook, stirring occasionally, until the rice has a nutty fragrance, about 5 minutes.
Add 1 cup water, increase the heat to medium, and cook, stirring occasionally, until most of the water has been absorbed, about 4 minutes. Add 1 cup of the milk and cook, stirring occasionally, until the rice kernels are visible and most of the milk has been absorbed, about 6 minutes. Add the remaining 1 cup of milk and cook until the kernels are visible again and most of the milk has been absorbed, about 7 minutes.
Stir in the sugar and salt, and continue cooking until the liquid is mostly absorbed, about 3 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the crème fraîche. Serve immediately, or chill over an ice bath and then refrigerate, covered, for up to 2 days. (The lemon zest and cinnamon sticks will continue to impart flavor. Remove just before serving.) Serve the rice pudding chilled, or reheat it gently in a saucepan, adding more milk if necessary to adjust the consistency.