I can count on one hand the number of desserts my maternal grandmother used to make for the family. And none of them were what you’d consider “normal” treats — not for an American kid anyway. She’d make things like clafoutis, crepes suzette and île flottante.
And there was her riz au four (pronounced ree-o-fouh) or baked rice pudding. I’ll be honest. I think the family was split on her rice pudding. Half loved it. The other half, well, we ate it.
I was in the second camp. She would bake it in a large casserole dish and it always had a strange, leathery crust on top. Once you got down inside, it was sweet and mild, but still. I never requested it.
So when I decided to make my own rice pudding, I instituted new rules. First, it should be pudding-y all-the-way-through. My version would thicken on the stove, instead of being baked. And there would be no leathery crust.
I added coconut milk, flaked coconut and bits of fresh pineapple for a tropical flare and because it reminded me of my favorite umbrella drink, I added some rum. Definitely different from my grandmother’s version.
The key to this pudding is a long, slow cooking time, measured patience and a wooden spoon. I cooked the rice with the coconut and regular milk until it was absorbed and the rice was tender, adding liquid every so often if it started to get too thick.
It’s important to taste a grain of rice at the end of cooking — to make sure it’s not undercooked. Nothing will throw off a pudding more than crunchy rice or a leathery crust.
Spoon the pudding into ramekins to serve. It’s delicious warm or chilled. I sprinkled extra pineapple and toasted coconut on top for garnish. Yum!
Lest you think me a horrible granddaughter, I brought a dish to my grandmother, and she approved – eating every last morsel! Pina colada rice pudding was a hit!
piña colada rice pudding
- 1/2 cup long grain white rice not converted
- 1 cup coconut milk
- 1/2 cup heavy cream
- 2 cups milk
- 3 tablespoons sugar
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1 cup fresh pineapple cut into a 1/4" dice
- 1 tablespoon dark rum
- 3/4 cup sweetened flaked coconut divided
- 1/2 teaspoon coconut extract optional
Over medium heat in a medium saucepan, combine the coconut milk, heavy cream milk, milk and rice. Stir in the sugar and salt and continue to stir until thick and creamy and rice is tender, about 25-30 minutes. (Test to see if the rice is done by biting a grain of rice to make sure it's cooked and isn't crunchy in the center. If it is, continue to cook adding a little more milk (1/4 cup at a time) if it needs more liquid. When rice is cooked, remove it from the heat. If consistency is too thick and not creamy, stir in another 1/4 cup of milk.
Stir in the rum, pineapple and coconut flakes and extract (if using).
Spoon pudding into 1/2 cup ramekins. Serve warm or chilled. If chilling, cover each ramekin with plastic wrap before refrigerating.
When ready to serve, heat oven to 325 degrees and lay remaining 1/4 cup coconut in a single layer on a baking sheet. Cook for 8-10 minutes until lightly browned.
Top puddings with additional pineapple and toasted coconut. Serve.