Chamomile is the comfort tea, built to settle any stomach, or any mind, at the end of a nervous, over-stuffed day. And to me, nothing is more comforting than rice pudding. This dessert plays with both chamomile tea and dried chamomile blossoms, both of which imbue a mellow floralness that counteracts the sweetness of traditional rice pudding. It's creamy and studded with golden raisins rehydrated in a mug of chamomile tea, and sweet, sticky, floral honey. Instead of sweet, pungent, and heady vanilla—traditional in rice pudding—this version is subtle and dressed-down.
- 2 cups water
- 3 tablespoons of dried edible chamomile flowers
- 4 cups milk
- 1 tablespoon butter
- 1 cup Arborio rice
- 1 chamomile tea bag
- 1/4 cup golden raisins
- 1/4 cup sugar
- Pinch of salt
- 1/4 cup cream to finish (optional)
Start as though you were making a risotto. In two separate pots, heat the water and the milk. Place the chamomile flowers (not the tea bags) in the water, and allow to steep for at least ten minutes. Strain the flowers out, and return the chamomile water to the pan to keep warm.
Melt the butter in a wide pan with sides over medium low heat. Add the rice, and stir to coat, cooking for just a minute in the butter until the rice turns translucent.
Use a ladle to add the water bit by bit to the rice, adding more only as it is absorbed, and stirring continuously. Once you have used all the water, switch to milk, and continue to stir.
Meanwhile, brew a cup of chamomile tea with the tea bag. Place the golden raisins in the tea to rehydrate.
Once most of the milk has been used, and the pudding has reached a thick, porridge-like texture, add the sugar and stir it in to melt over the heat. Add the pinch of salt as well.
Take the pan off the heat. Stir in a splash of cream to finish, and serve hot, in separate bowls or ramekins. Strain the golden raisins out of the tea, and top the pudding with them. Serve with honey alongside.