Arroz con leche is Spain's answer to rice pudding. This version is exotic and off the charts good. The chef insists on a good quality short grain rice for this dish. Short grain rice has a higher starch content, which adds to the creaminess of the rice pudding. Use a good quality Spanish risotto rice, arborio, bomba, or any other local short grain rice. In addition, the rice is cooked in milk, this produces a pudding that takes longer to cook, but eventually very creamy, and is characteristic for any good rice pudding.
In traditional Spanish fashion, the rice pudding is scented with cinnamon and citrus peel, the later adding a freshness to the decadent creamy dessert. This pudding is topped with gooey caramelised pears that add a rich and salted flavor that is irresistible. Together this dessert is everything that that you can desire, loads flavor, lots of sugar and rich.
This is an amazing cookbook. It features a collection of outstanding recipes from the Moorish influence in Spanish cooking. Each recipe that I have tried is spectacular, full of wonderful flavors and unique combinations of ingredients, like this recipe. I love this cookbook and highly recommend it to those looking for unusual dishes. I have Ben Tishs' fabulous restaurant, Norma, in London, on my bucket list, I cannot wait to start traveling again!
For more recipe from this cookbook, click here.
For the rice pudding:
1 cup short-grain rice, preferably risotto rice or any other varietal
1/2 cup sugar
1/3 cup dark raisins
4 cups full-fat milk
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
Zest of 1 lemon
1/2 teaspoon good quality, organic vanilla essence, not the artificial crap
For the caramel pears:
1/2 cup sugar
1 tablespoons butter
4 tablespoons double cream
1/2 teaspoon large grain sea salt
2 ripe pears, peeled, sliced longitudinally into 6 pieces and cored
To make the rice pudding:
Put all the ingredients for the rice pudding into a pot and bring to a gentle simmer. Simmer for 60 minutes till the rice is very soft and almost breaking down. Check on the milk not allowing the pudding to dry out, topping up with 1/4 cup milk as needed. You are looking for a very creamy and thick pudding that is quite sweet and flavored with the cinnamon and zest. It is delicious on its own. As a note, the pudding tends to thicken as it sits. Bring back to the desired thick consistency with milk when you are ready to serve. Chill in fridge.
To make the caramel pears:
Peel the pears and slice them into 6-8 slices along the length of the pear. Core the seeds and stem fibers. Set aside.
Add the sugar and butter to a small pot and cook on the lowest flame on your stove. The sugars will slowly melt and form a liquid, about 15 minutes. Do not be tempted to either stir the liquid while it is melting, it will start crystalizing, or turn up the heat, you will burn the caramel.
When the sugar has melted add the cream in a thin stream, careful it will spit and bubble, all the while using a spatula to stir the cream in. Combine well into the caramel, once combined remove off the heat and cool. While the caramel is cooling, add the salt and stir in. If you add the salt early, it will dissolve into the caramel and salt it beautifully. However, if you would prefer small pops of salt in your mouth, add at the last minute to the caramel and mix in with the pears. The caramel should stay a dark and sticky thick liquid. When you are ready to serve, add the pears in and mix. Do not mix the pears in early and allow to sit as the pears give out juice and it dilutes the caramel.
To serve, layer the chilled rice pudding, after bringing back to the desired thick consistency with a touch of milk, and top with the freshly mixed caramel pears.