Tuesday Morning: With a steady chilly rain pelting my kitchen windows, I reheated my tea and gave my pal Cathy Barrow a call. It had been ages since we talked and I was desperate for a solid catch-up. Cathy is a lovely person, a good & trusted friend and colleague. She’s also a wildly talented cook and writer. If you don’t know her, you should. Check out her mad skills at Mrs.Wheelbarrow’s Kitchen.
In the course of our convo, Cathy asked me about the new book and how it was going.. I think she said “Now that the book is out, are you relieved?” With a hoot and a snort (yes, I snort on occasion), I belted out a “hardly relieved.. in fact, this part is the most terrifying!” As I explained to Cathy, writing the book and developing the recipes is my pleasure… promoting and selling the book is my job. I liken the book writing and selling process to hosting a dinner party. First, you come up with the idea to host the party ~ book concept is born. Next, you are fully immersed in all the party planning. It’s such a creative rush ~ writing the book. Even getting dressed for the party is fun ~ book photography & video shoots. Then.. it’s moments until party time ~the book launch~ and fear and self doubt start creeping into my brain. The voices are whispering “will the guests come to the party ~ buy the book?” “Will they have fun at the party ~ like the book?” “Will they tell their friends about your great party ~ book?” “What happens if no one shows up to the party ~ buys the book?” Get my drift here? It’s nerve wracking and just to pile on here, this “party” is my career.. yeah.. no biggie. Cathy laughed and smartly said that she’s heard that “everyone loves Abby’s parties”. From your lips to cookbook buyers’ ears, Cathy!
Wednesday Morning: With the rain still coming down and the sky so dark it was hard to believe it was daytime, I decide that this girl needed some serious comfort food to help erase those doubts, lift my spirits and work my way through the promote-the-book to-do list. Rice Pudding sounded just about right. Not wanting to take the time to stir and tend the pudding over the stove, I piled my ingredients into my slow cooker, set the timer and walked into my little office to tackle the day. Two hours later, I sat here typing this post with a bowl (ok, it was a large bowl) of steaming coconut rice pudding topped with crunchy, toasted coconut. Heavenly. I swear rice pudding has healing powers..
Thursday Morning: The day is perfect. The sun is brilliant and the air is crisp and clean – a perfect day for rice pudding. And, yes.. I sit here finishing this post with a bowl of yesterday’s pudding. Before I move over to the recipe here’s some shameless self-promotion: If you’d like to check out my “party” aka my new book, Mini Treats & Handheld Sweets is available HERE with info HERE (book trailer coming soon). Also.. check out the slideshow of my kitchen & office and enter to win the giveaway over at Finecooking.com. It’s a few of my favorite, must-haves for baking success including an amazing KitchenAid mixer courtesy of KitchenAidUSA. It’s a HUGE giveaway. Good luck!
While this pudding is technically not a #BakeTogether recipe, I can’t resist give you a few ways to switch this up ~ as for me, it’s all I can do to not eat it directly from the pot..
Here are a few add-on variations to gussy-up this homespun dessert.
Coconut Rice Pudding, Swedish-Style
Whip 3/4 cup heavy cream to medium-firm peak and gently fold into a batch of the chilled Toasted Coconut Rice Pudding. Delicious served with fresh raspberries along with the toasted coconut.
Add 4 or 5 thin-sliced pieces of fresh ginger along with the coconut milk, sugar, rice and salt and proceed as directed and fish them out before. Serve pudding with toasted coconut, sliced fresh mango and sprinkle with chopped pistachios.
Classic Rice Pudding
Substitute 4 cups of half & half (2 cups whole milk + 2 cups half & half works too) for the coconut milk and proceed as directed.
Coffee Rice Pudding
Make the Classic Rice Pudding as directed above and add 2 teaspoons instant coffee granules along with the vanilla and stir until dissolved. Serve with a dollop of lightly sweetened whipped cream and a crisp chocolate cookie.
*Ingredient note: medium grain rice – the same kind I use for my paella – is the only type that will work here. Long grain rice will dissolve completely and short grain will be a sticky, sticky mess. I have not trd this recipe with brown rice but I suspect that with a few tweaks it would work. Let me know if you try it.
Makes about 4 cups or 6 to 8 servings.
For the pudding:
2 cans (13 1/2 ounces each) coconut milk
2/3 cup (4 1/2 ounces) medium-grain white rice
1/2 cup (3 1/2 ounces) granulated sugar
1/4 teaspoon table salt
1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
Pinch or two of ground cardamom, optional
1/4 to 1/2 cup half & half or heavy cream, if necessary
1 cup shredded, sweetened coconut, toasted
Add the coconut milk, rice, sugar, and salt to a slow cooker and stir until combined and the rice is more or less evenly spread out. Cover and cook on HIGH until the rice is just tender, 2 hours. Don’t overcook at this point because the rice will continue to cook as the pudding cools and don’t be tempted to leave the pudding in the slow cooker on the warm setting – you will end up with a sticky, thick mess!
After 2 hours, turn off the slow cooker and stir in the vanilla extract and ground cardamom, if using. Give the pudding a taste and, depending on your taste buds, add a pinch more salt and/or a touch more sugar. Serve immediately with some of the toasted coconut on top. Or, if you prefer, spoon the pudding into a 4 cup bowl or container and cover it with plastic wrap or a lid. The pudding can be served warm or even cold. If you are serving it cold, you might need to add a little of the half & half or heavy cream to loosen up the pudding.