Almost Perfect Rice Pudding

rice puddingI fell in love with rice pudding about 12 years ago.  It is strange because my dessert of choice usually involves chocolate, nuts, caramel, and peanut butter.  But, I had a sweet lady from church who would occasionally bring me a loaf-size pan of warm rice pudding, covered in nutmeg, and full of the most amazing creamy goodness.  I could not get enough of it…and I could not get over the fact that Jill had made it.

Jill was a young twenty-something blonde from California.  She drove a Mercedes, and I never saw her wear anything but  designer black. She and her husband lived in a gorgeous and very expensive home where  they were building a business together.  They were very successful and very busy.  Jill oozed style and wealth and beauty, but not so much domesticity.  But she was the queen of rice pudding. That whole judging thing, I’ve totally given it up.

I suspect that someone else really made the rice pudding because every time I asked her for the recipe, she was very vague and dismissive, claiming that she didn’t really use a recipe, she just threw some things together.  But it tasted exactly the same every time, and it was perfection.

I moved away from Jill and her rice pudding goodness about 10 years ago, and since then I’ve searched high and low for something similar.  I’ve ordered rice pudding at restaurants and cruise ships.  I’ve tried homemade recipes, store mixes, and containers of rice pudding in the dairy section.  And I’ve found nothing to even equal Jill’s rice pudding.

But, this recipe is pretty close.  It is from the Better Homes & Gardens website, fairly simple, and amazingly creamy.  I followed the recipe exactly, except for the lingonberries.  Instead I topped it with nutmeg, just like Jill’s.  The only thing I will do differently next time is add more sugar.  Without the berries, I think it needs a bit more sweetness.  Also, this was my first experience using a vanilla bean and it was pretty easy.

If you make this recipe, realize that it will feed a small army, most of your neighbors, or your family for breakfast, lunch and dinner for a week.  Also, I always serve it warm and think it is the perfect winter dessert.  And just a warning…you will fall in love with the creamy deliciousness that is almost as good as California Jill’s.

Festive Rice Pudding

Prep 20 mins
Cook 5 hrs
Makes 16 servings
Festive Rice Pudding

Ingredients
  • 1 quart whole milk (4 cups)
  • quart half-and-half (4 cups)
  • cup sugar
  • 2 1/2 cups uncooked Arborio rice (do not substitute long grain rice)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • vanilla bean, split
  • 4 – 6 whole cloves, tied in a 100-percent-cotton cheesecloth bag
  • Purchased lingonberry sauce
Directions
1.In a 3-1/2- or 4-quart slow cooker stir together milk, half-and-half, sugar, rice, and salt. Add vanilla bean and cloves. Cover and cook on low heat setting for 5 hours. (Do not stir).2.Remove vanilla bean and cloves. Let stand 15 to 30 minutes before serving. (If pudding gets too thick upon standing, stir in additional milk to make desired consistency.) Serve warm or chilled with lingonberry sauce.

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