Rice Pudding (Arroz con Leche)

She craved the orange trees and orange blossoms

The smell of burning holy incense down the cobbled streets

While the young spring air kissed her face, gently,

Opening her eyes she realized once more, painfully,

that she was far away from that place.

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Arroz con leche is a humble dessert that's traditional of Spanish Holy Week (Semana Santa), but people tend to feast on it during the rest of the year as well. Different countries and people have their different take and version of rice pudding. I offer you my simple rendition and hope that you enjoy it.

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Arroz Con Leche (Rice Pudding)

Makes about 5-6 servings. Refrigerate for up to a week.

Pre-Baking Notes:

- This recipe is offered in grams. Therefore, you will need a scale if you choose to follow the recipe.

- Please read recipe carefully before starting it to see what tools you'll need for the procedure.

- Be sure to remove the white pith from the lemon peel with a pairing knife. This will remove the bitter taste from the peel. Failing to do so can make your rice pudding overly bitter. 

- Whenever heating up the milk, be sure to stir often to prevent milk from burning at the bottom of the saucepan. If burning were to happen, transfer milk to another saucepan immediately to prevent milk from obtaining a smoky flavor. 

  • 1, 060 grams milk, plus an additional 200 grams 
  • 2 sticks of cinnamon (3 sticks if they're small ones)
  • the peel of 1 lemon, pith removed
  • 104 grams sushi rice or bomba rice
  • 60 grams sugar
  • 22 grams butter
  • pinch of salt
  • ground cinnamon to taste

1. Place 1,003 grams of milk in a medium saucepan and bring it to a gentle boil over medium heat. Once the milk has come to a gentle boil, place cinnamon sticks and lemon peel in the milk. Cover pot and infuse for 15 minutes.

2. Meanwhile, rinse rice in several changes of cold water until water runs clear and drain in a colander.

3. Once infusion time is over, strain the liquid into a medium-sized bowl. Reweigh milk and add more of it as needed to make the total weight of the milk be 1,060 grams again. Return milk to the pot along with the cinnamon sticks and the lemon peel. (Note: if you like a completely smooth pudding without finding an occasional solid, feel free to remove the cinnamon sticks and lemon peel at this time. Keep in mind that the lemon and cinnamon taste may not be as strong. Plus, both can easily be removed at a later time if desired. I suggest leaving them for better flavor).

4. Heat milk once more over low heat until it comes to a simmer, stirring often with a spatula so that the milk solids don't burn at the bottom of the saucepan. Once milk comes to a simmer, pour rice into the saucepan and continue cooking until rice becomes completely tender to the bite, about 16-20 minutes, stirring very frequently. 

5. Add sugar, butter, and salt to the mixture and continue cooking on low heat until butter and sugar dissolve completely, about 1 minute, stirring frequently. At this point taste the rice pudding and add more sugar if desired. (I don't like my desserts to be overly sweet, but feel free to add more sugar to taste if you want extra sweetness). 

6. Pour rice pudding into a large serving bowl or platter and place in the fridge, uncovered for about 2 hours to chill. Remove rice pudding from the fridge and dust its surface with some ground cinnamon to taste. To serve, spoon rice pudding into a small bowl and add additional ground cinnamon if desired. If some rice pudding still remains in the large serving platter, cover it and refrigerate for up to a week. Always serve cold. 

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