Flavors of Brazil's Rice Week celebration, we thought it might be fun to start with the dessert course and work our way backwards. We've already published lots of rice recipes on the blog, but up to now they've all been for savory rice dishes. The use of sweetened rice as a dessert isn't unique to Brazilian cuisine of course - for example American and British cuisines are famous for their good old-fashioned boarding school rice puddings, which seem to be one of those dishes that people either love or hate, and in Thailand they make a wonderful dessert out of black rice cooked in coconut milk and served with cubes of fresh mango. Brazilian traditional cooking, particularly home cooking, has numerous variations on the basic dessert rice formula of rice, sugar, dairy and (optionally) eggs.
This recipe, simply named arroz doce or sweet rice is from the southern state of Rio Grande do Sul and is clearly part of the Portuguese heritage in Brazilian cuisine. Hallmarks are the presence of egg yolks and the high level of sweetness - these are common traits in Portuguese sweet-baking traditions and are found in most recipes inherited from convent-bakeries in the old country. The use of sweetened condensed milk marks it as a Brazilian recipe.
RECIPE - Rice Pudding (Arroz Doce)
1 cup long-grain white rice
2 cups water
1/2 tsp salt
1 quart (1 liter) milk
1 can sweetened condensed milk (not evaporated milk)
2 Tbsp granulated white sugar
grated peel of 1/2 lime
3 egg yolks
powdered cinnamon to taste
In a thick-bottomed sauce pan, soak the rice in 2 cups cold water for 30 minutes. Add the salt and butter and heat over medium-low heat until the water just boils. Continue to cook the rice until enough water is absorbed to just reach the level of the rice in the pan.
Add the milk, the sweetened condensed milk, the sugar, the grated lime peel, and cinnamon to taste. Stir well to mix and continue to cook over low heat for about 20 minutes, or until the rice absorbs almost all of the milk and the mixture has a creamy consistency.
Place four serving spoonsful of rice in a medium bowl and add the yolk, one by one, mixing each in well before adding the next. Return this mixture to the pan and cook the dish for 10 more minutes.
Remove from heat, transfer the pudding to a serving bowl or dish and let cool completely. Once cooled, you can serve this immediately at room temperature, or cover it with plastic wrap and refrigerate it if you wish to serve it cold. If desired, you can sprinkle additional powdered cinnamon on the dish just before serving.