Monday, February 5, 2018

A Classic with a Twist - Vanilla Coconut Rice Pudding with Spiced Sour Cherries

Rice Pudding is a simple and very old recipe of uncertain origin that began to be common in many households around the beginning of the 18th century, and by the 20th century, it was omnipresent.

Many different countries have their own version of rice pudding. Spain, Portugal, Turkey, India, Thailand and Great Britain, to name but a few. There are two basic ways to make rice pudding - baking or boiling. The German version is called Milchreis (milk rice), made by cooking short-grain rice on the stovetop in milk with sugar and vanilla. German Milchreis is usually served as a sweet main dish with fruit or compote or simply with sugar and cinnamon on top.

So, having tried many a recipe and method for preparing Rice Pudding, I settled on the German basic version - boiling - added a bit of a twist by adding coconut milk to the milk and serving the pudding with Spiced Sour Cherries instead of just cinnamon sugar, my family´s traditional way. I also like to sprinkle a few chopped natural pistachios on top but coconut chips are also wonderful here.

Vanilla Coconut Rice Pudding with Spiced Sour Cherries


For the Rice Pudding
  • 125 g risotto/arborio or pudding rice* (no need to soak pudding rice before use)
  • 800 ml milk (I use full fat milk), plus extra if you like your rice pudding to be more creamy
  • 200 ml coconut milk
  • 4 tbsps sugar or use runny honey
  • the sraped seeds from a vanilla pod (plus add the vanilla pod to the milk while cooking the rice, when the rice pudding is fully cooked, remove the pod)
*NOTE: this is not a specific type of rice, but a generic description for short-grained white rice used for making rice pudding.

For the Spiced Cherries
  • 250ml cherry juice OR red wine
  • 75g sugar
  • 8g vanilla sugar
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 1 star anise, whole
  • 250g sour cherries, stones removed (either fresh if in season, OR frozen OR from a jar)


Of the Rice Pudding
  1. Put the rice, milk, coconut milk, sugar or honey and the vanilla (seeds and pod) into a large pan.
  2. Stir well, then place the pan on a very low heat.
  3. Bring to a low boil. Then cover partially with a lid.
  4. Cook very gently for around 45 minutes, or until thick and creamy, stirring regularly (the time will depend on the rice used).
  5. Loosen the rice pudding with more milk or coconut milk before serving, if needed.
  6. Transfer to a bowl and serve immediately or let cool before serving (please note that the cooked rice pudding will be less creamy once cooled).
  7. Serve the rice pudding scattered with the Spiced Cherries on top.
  8. Scatter some pistachios over the cherries (optional). OR: serve with fresh fruit, as is, with cinnamon sugar, with demerera sugar, maple syrup or some runny honey.

Of the Spiced Cherries
  1. Place the cherry juice OR red wine, sugar, vanilla sugar and spices into a pan and bring to the boil.
  2. Cook for 4 to 5 minutes, or until just syrupy.
  3. Remove the cinnamon stick and the star anise.
  4. Add the cherries to the pan and simmer for about 5 minutes OR until the cherries are tender.
  5. Alternatively, if you prefer your Spiced Cherries less „liquid“, you can use a bit of cornstarch dissolved in some more cherry juice or water, add that to the cooked spiced cherries, bring to the boil again (to activate the starch). Then serve.


You can easily change up the basic recipe by mixing in different spices such as nutmeg or cardamom, or add a dollop of jam or preserves, or dried fruits such as raisins, apricots or cranberries or a mix of several of these options.

While the Rice Pudding it is best eaten warm (which is what we do), both the pudding as well as the Spiced Sour Cherries keep well for a day or two in the fridge.


  1. Andrea when I saw this recipe in Facebook I loved and the pictures are so beautiful. Love yours recipes!

    1. Gloria, thank you for your kind comment and feedback - this is a nice classic recipe with a twist. We love rice pudding prepared this way, especially around this time of year when the weather is less than cosy.

  2. Just Gorgeous! Can't wait to try it. Thanks for sharing this amazing-looking recipe.

    1. Thank you very much, Amy! Glad you like the recipe and hope you will get a chance to try it some day!

  3. Liebe Andrea, ich wollte schon lange ausprobieren, ob man nicht Kokosmilch zum Milchreis zugeben kann, wir lieben den Geschmack von Kokos... Nun hast du mich angeschubst :-) Vielen Dank!

    1. Danke liebe Wally, freut mich zu hören, dass dich mein Rezept für Milchreis mit Kokosmilch inspiriert!
      Liebe Grüße aus dem frostigen Bonn,

  4. Michael Hirsch loved rice pudding and I feel very guilty now that I never made it for him. He would always order it anywhere it was available on the menu. And yes, since he was German, he like Milchreis. I think this would be a lovely presentation for dessert if served in a goblet.

    1. Dear Mary, I think Germans just adore their Milchreis no matter which way it is served to them - big bowl, glass plate, fancy goblet. I always loved it and still do and so does the entire gang.
      Sending a fat hug your way -
      P.S.: I should really check my spam account more often...sorry for the delay in answering

  5. What a comforting dish! I especially love that cherry topping! xo

    1. Yes, Liz, pure comfort in a bowl...rice pudding and warm cherries seem to go together rather well!
      Thank you for stopping by, my friend!

  6. This looks like PURE comfort food.
    Beautiful, Andrea! xx

    1. Thank you very much, my friend!
      Sending a fat hug your way!

  7. I don't know how I missed this post, Andrea - we love rice pudding and making it with coconut milk is even better! I wish sour cherries were easier to find here... I look for them all the time fresh or frozen, but no luck. Only canned, which I don't like to use. Liebe Grüße aus immer sonnigen Tucson!

  8. I like the topping of the cherries on your rice makes it quite special.