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)
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
- Put the rice, milk, coconut milk, sugar or honey and the vanilla (seeds and pod) into a large pan.
- Stir well, then place the pan on a very low heat.
- Bring to a low boil. Then cover partially with a lid.
- Cook very gently for around 45 minutes, or until thick and creamy, stirring regularly (the time will depend on the rice used).
- Loosen the rice pudding with more milk or coconut milk before serving, if needed.
- 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).
- Serve the rice pudding scattered with the Spiced Cherries on top.
- 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
- Place the cherry juice OR red wine, sugar, vanilla sugar and spices into a pan and bring to the boil.
- Cook for 4 to 5 minutes, or until just syrupy.
- Remove the cinnamon stick and the star anise.
- Add the cherries to the pan and simmer for about 5 minutes OR until the cherries are tender.
- 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.