For some reason I can’t quite explain, I thought it would be a good idea to volunteer to bring dessert to a dinner party who’s host runs a baking website. I have served Emily many dishes at my own abode, intimidation and stress-free. But I’ve never served her dessert.
Matters are further complicated by the fact that I am not really a baker, and am now gluten-free. As a gluten-free, non-baker, my first inclination when dreaming up dessert isn’t to figure out the perfect balance of rice flour to xanthum gum to tapioca starch to sorghum flour. It’s to go to the bodega on my corner and debate buying dulce de leche or chubby hubby. Or both??
Sensing that this strategy wouldn’t hold muster with someone who was planning on serving striped bass as an entrée, I decided to reach into my bag of savory tricks (i.e. my pantry) and make coconut rice pudding instead. I happened to have some whole milk on hand, but if you wanted to go gluten AND dairy free, you could probably just double up on the coconut milk.
This recipe is incredibly versatile, and if you’re trying to impress the dinners at your table as much as I was Emily, I’d add a nutty garnish, like these colorful pistachios, or whatever your pantry has to offer, for extra bonus points.
I love serving these little cuties in wine or punch glasses. It might seem like a pain to lug your own glasses over to a friend’s house, but they end up being lighter than a cake in its pan.
1/2 cup white basmati rice
One 13- to 14-ounce can unsweetened coconut milk
1 1/4 cups whole milk
1/2 cup sugar
½ cup shredded unsweetened coconut
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
¼ cup pistachio nuts, roughly chopped
1. In a medium saucepan, combine the rice, coconut milk, whole milk, sugar, shredded coconut, vanilla, and a pinch of salt and bring to a boil over high heat. NOTE: Be careful not to let the milk foam up and over the pan when it comes to a boil. Bring the heat down immediately and don’t forget to stir!
2. Turn the heat down to medium-low and gently simmer for 20-25 minutes, stirring occasionally during the first 10 minutes, and more frequently during the last ten minutes when the mixture has thickened. When the pudding is done to your desired consistency (I like a looser, creamier pudding, so I air on the side of 20 minutes), remove from the heat.
3. Divide the rice mixture between 4 punch or wine glasses (ramekins work too), about ⅔ cup per glass. Cool in fridge for at least 4 hours and up to 2 days. Garnish with the pistachios and some toasted coconut flakes (optional). Serve at room temperature.