Friday, January 25, 2013

Baked Rice Pudding

Since I cannot eat oats anymore, one of the foods I miss most is oatmeal.  Oatmeal isn’t a terribly glamorous food, but it is very comforting, especially for a January breakfast.

Baked Oatmeal has been one of my previously favorite ways to eat my oatmeal. One of my tasks, when I worked at Dakota Harvest Bakers, was making HUGE batches of the oatmeal, baked in an almost custard-like mixture & cut into generous squares.  The squares were warmed up for each customer and topped with additional milk and dried fruits & nuts. When I worked at Archives Coffee House, who sourced their baked oatmeal from Dakota Harvest, we took it a step further by putting steamed milk & garnishing with a dollop of milk foam. Either way is a perfect breakfast food, in my book.

I’ve been thinking about tweaking my personal baked oatmeal recipe & replacing the oats with a different grain.  Quinoa & rice were the two ingredients I immediately thought of using.  While I have eaten quinoa for breakfast, I find it’s slightly grassy flavor more suited for savory applications rather than sweet. So, I settled on rice instead.

Think of this variation as a sort of firm, baked rice pudding.  Par-cooked rice is mixed with eggs, coconut milk, brown sugar & spices.  The whole mixture is baked until set, chilled to allow it to set completely, and cut into squares. The squares are re-warmed, topped with dried fruit and nuts (apricots & pecans were my choice this time) & some additional frothy, steamed milk (I found this great tutorial from The Kichn that teaches you how to make foamy milk at home).

While it’s not exactly the same as my beloved baked oatmeal, the flavors and the texture are similar.  The first bite I took instantly reminded me of Dakota Harvest and Archives and of the wonderful time I had working at both places.  I think the next time I make this (which I’m sure will be soon) I I will use use brown rice, just to incorporate a little more of the nutty flavor I like in oatmeal and to make it a little healthier.

Baked Rice Pudding
slightly adapted from Helene Dujardin at Tartelette 
makes approximately 3 servings (or double the ingredients to fit in a 9x13 casserole dish) 

1/2 c White Rice
1/2 c Water
7 oz coconut milk (half of a can), divided in half
1/4 c Brown Sugar
3 eggs
1 tsp Vanilla
3/4 tsp Cinnamon
1/4 tsp Nutmeg
Dried fruit, for serving {I used Apricots}
Nuts, for serving {I used Pecans}
Milk, for serving
Brown Sugar, for serving

  1.  In a small saucepan, combine the rice with the water and half of the coconut milk.  Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer until the liquid has been absorbed.  Remove from the burner to cool slightly.  
  2. Preheat the oven to 350 F. Spray a 5x7-inch baking dish with cooking spray. Line with parchment paper and spray the parchment too. 
  3. In a bowl, whisk together the remaining coconut milk, the sugar, eggs, vanilla & spices.  Stir in the slightly cooled, par-cooked rice.  
  4. Pour the mixture into the prepared baking dish & bake for approximately 35 to 40 minutes, or until firm.  When the pudding jiggles just slightly (very slightly) it is done.  
  5. Cool completely and then refrigerate overnight to allow the pudding to set. 
  6. To serve, cut the rice pudding into squares & re-warm either in the microwave or a low oven.  Top with dried fruit and nuts and with some additional milk (foamed, if you like). Sprinkle with a little brown sugar & serve immediately. 

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