Rice pudding in a snackable almost cakelike form? Will wonders never cease?!! Where have you been all my life? Guys, if rice pudding is one of your weaknesses, you are going to fall madly in love with this little riff on the classic comfort food!
I've found over the years that rice pudding lovers fall into two camps: creamy and baked. My grammie always made the chilled, creamy kind--it was actually one of her signature dishes, heavy on the whipped cream, sinfully scrumptious and I cannot believe that I haven't already shared it with you (must get on that right away). So that's what I grew up eating and believed that rice pudding was. It wasn't until I got married and started cooking on my own, that I encountered the baked kind and fell in love with the warm, cinnamon-y custard-like version, so perfect for cold winter nights and cuddling! But never in my life did I ever come across rice pudding that could be cut like a cake, but still was for all intents and purposes, still a pudding! I am seriously hooked and this is a treat I will be making over and over again!!
And it's so easy too! Lots of long slow baking but very little hands-on work. After you make the rice (and by the way, this is a great way to use up leftover rice) all you do is mix together the ingredients and bake away.
The pudding isn't all that sweet which makes it great for breakfast or as a snack. I love it just as it as, but you can definitely jazz it up with some fruit or even a little dollop of whipped cream if you like.
In some ways, it reminds me of baked oatmeal, but it's creamier, chewier and more dense with the lovely flavors of vanilla and cinnamon in each bite. It's a pudding, it's a cake...Bah! I'm not really doing it justice--it's hard to describe in words--you've just got to make this and try it out for yourself! And if you do, invite me over. Our latest batch is all gone!!
Rice Pudding Snackin' Squares
Makes 8-10 servings
Prep Time: 30 minutes (only about 10 is active); Bake Time: 2 1/4 hours
1 1/2 cups water
1 cup Arborio rice (or any other short-grained white rice)
2 large eggs, room temperature
2 cups evaporated milk
2/3 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 vanilla bean,
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled
1. Preheat oven to 325ºF. Lightly spray an 8x8 or 9x9-inch square baking pan with nonstick cooking spray and set aside.
2. Place the rice and water in a medium-sized saucepan and bring to a boil. Cover and reduce the heat to low. Let cook for about 20 minutes, until the rice is tender and the water is entirely absorbed. Set the pot aside to allow the rice to cool a bit.
3. In a large mixing bowl, beat the eggs well until they are light and airy. Add in the evaporated milk, sugar, cinnamon and salt. Split the vanilla bean down the middle and scrape in the seeds. Mix everything together well. Add the cooked rice and the cooled butter and stir thoroughly.
4. Scrape the mixture into the pan. Place the pan into a larger oven-safe pan and pour enough boiling water into the larger pan so that the water comes up halfway up the sides of the smaller pan.
5. Bake for 35 minutes. Remove the pan from the oven and give the pudding a good stir. Return the whole thing to the oven and bake for another 1 1/2 hours, until the rice has set and the top is golden brown. Check once or twice during the baking process. If the water seems too low, add more boiling water to the larger pan to keep the pudding from drying out. When done, remove the baking dish from the larger pan and place on a wire rack for about 20-30 minutes. Carefully remove the larger pan and pour out the hot water into the sink.
6. Cut the pudding into squares and serve as is or with fruit or even whipped cream on top. This is great warm or at room temperature. Store leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator for 2-3 days. It's great cold too!
Note: Recipe adapted from Sweet Mornings by Patty Pinner.