These days, I obviously do no wait for my mother to be around to make me rice pudding. First of all because we do not even live in the same country, second of all because I can just make it for myself (ok, well sometimes I even buy it ready made but trust me, there are some really delicious ones out there). There is something actually quite satisfying and relaxing about making a pot of rice pudding. It is not a fast recipe, it takes time and attention so turn on the radio or a good podcast, put on your favourite apron and start preparing some of that delicious creamy dessert. I happen to have a delicious recipe for you!
And because I have been making a lot of of rice pudding lately (believe me, no one is complaining about this at home), I have played with different flavours and I have another delicious recipe to share with you over the next few weeks. So stay tuned!
Do you like rice pudding? Do you prefer it plain with just a little vanilla added to it or do you like trying different flavours as well?
Ingredients (serve 4*)
For the chocolate rice pudding
500ml whole milk
40g caster sugar
75g pudding rice
30g chopped dark chocolate
For the hazelnut praline**
40g blanched hazelnuts
30g caster sugar
For the poached pears
1 litre water
2 tablespoons demerara sugar
juice of half a lemon
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 pears (peeled and stalk intact)
All the following steps can be made ahead of serving this dessert.
The chocolate rice pudding
1. Put the milk and sugar in a saucepan over a medium heat and bring to a boil. Pour in the rice, turn to low heat and simmer gently for 40 minutes while stirring frequently (so the rice does not stick to the bottom of the saucepan). When cooked, the rice should be tender and creamy with most of the liquid absorbed.
2. Take the saucepan off the heat and stir in the chopped dark chocolate until it is all melted and well combined with the creamy rice. Transfer the chocolate rice pudding into a large bowl and let it cool down (I also add a small piece of baking paper at the surface of the mixture so a skin does not form).
The hazelnut praline
1. Preheat the oven to 180°C. Place the blanched hazelnuts on a baking tray on the middle shelf of the oven and roast for 10 minutes until they are light brown. After cooking, let them cool down completely (at this stage, if the cooled hazelnuts had skins on, transfer them into a clean kitchen towel and rub them to remove the skin).
2. The next step requires careful attention as it is a delicate process***. Put the sugar (and nothing else) in a small saucepan over medium heat. Do not stir it while it slowly melts into a caramel, swirl the saucepan lightly if needs be to make sure all the sugar is evenly caramelising. When it reaches a light blond colour, add in the cold roasted hazelnuts, stir until the caramel is amber (this process happens quite fast). Spread the caramelised hazelnuts quickly onto a piece of greaseproof paper or a silicon mat and let it cool down completely.
3. After the caramelised hazelnuts have cooled down, break them up into chunks. I placed them in a little packet made of kitchen paper and crushed them lightly with a rolling pin before transferring in a food processor (mine is very tiny and not really efficient so if yours is up to the challenge of breaking big chunks of caramelised nuts straight away you can skip that step). Mix until you get a fine praline powder (if you mix it any longer, the oils from the nuts will release and you will end up with a praline paste). Transfer the hazelnut praline in a small serving bowl.
The poached pears
1. Put the water, sugar, lemon juice and vanilla extract in a saucepan over medium heat. Stir the sugar well so it dissolves and bring the liquid to a boil. Place the peeled pears in the saucepan (ensure that they are covered by the liquid or cover with a piece of baking paper and turn the pears every now and then to make sure they cook evenly) and cook on medium heat for 20 minutes or until the pears are tender (you can check the tenderness of the pear with a skewer - cooking time might depend on the ripeness of the pears).
2. When the pears are cooked, remove them from the poaching juice and place them on a plate to cool down. (If you do not want to waste the poaching juice, add more sugar to it and reduce it down to a syrup over medium heat.)
Assemble the dessert
Divide the chocolate rice pudding between 4 small dessert bowls (I serve it cold but you could also warm it a little in the microwave before serving if you prefer). Place half a poached pear in each bowl and sprinkle with the hazelnut praline.
* I wrote here that it serves 4 people. The portion will feel small but this is actually a pretty rich dessert. You could also divide it between 2, which is something we did here at home but it was very indulgent.
** The ingredients here are enough to serve with the chocolate rice pudding but feel free to double or triple (or more) the ingredients and keep some of that delicious hazelnut praline in a jar to have later during the week (I always make a little extra).
*** I am always careful while making caramel. I would make sure not to be distracted and that there are no children around you in the kitchen. And for extra carefulness, you could also wear oven mitts while stirring the caramel.