If you grew up in New Orleans you know there were really only two homemade desserts Grandma made on a regular basis (because she always seemed to have the ingredients available). One was bread pudding; the other was rice pudding. And while there are dozens and dozens of recipes for rice pudding floating around, each done in a different way, this is the one I remember all my neighbors’ meemaws making and sharing with each other in the ‘hood when I was a boy.
3 eggs, slightly beaten
¾ cup brown sugar
1 cup heavy whipping cream
1 cup Half-N-Half
2 Tbsp. Pure vanilla
4 Tbsp. Butter, melted
1 tsp. Ground cinnamon
1/8 tsp. Ground nutmeg
1/8 tsp. Ground mace
1/8 tsp. Salt
2 cups cooked long-grain rice
1 cup golden raisins
½ cup chopped nuts (pecan/almond mixture)
½ tsp. Grated lemon rind (zest)
2 tsp. Fresh-squeezed orange juice
2 tsp. Granulated sugar for frosting
Start off by preheating your oven to 350 degrees.
This is most critical because the pudding just won’t come out right if the oven isn’t at the correct temperature when the mixture goes in.
Then, in a large mixing bowl whisk together the eggs, the sugar, the whipping cream, and the Half-N-Half.
Take a little extra time to do this using a piano-wire whisk—this is the step that forms the basic custard, which will hold the rice together.
Then when the mixture is rich and creamy, stir in the vanilla, the butter, the cinnamon, the nutmeg, the mace, and the salt. Once again, whip together all of the ingredients until thoroughly combined.
Now, ever so gently, fold in the cooked rice, the raisins, the nuts, the lemon zest and the orange juice. This step, too, is critical because it is at this point that each grain of rice becomes “seasoned” with the spices.
Then when the blend is right, transfer the mixture to a buttered two-quart casserole dish. Then place the dish into a larger pan filled with water to create a water bath (bain-Marie). Baking in this manner tempers the custard, helping to keep it light and preventing it from burning and scorching.
All that’s left, then, is to bake the pudding—uncovered—on the center rack in the oven for approximately one hour or until the pudding is set and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. (Hint: if you evenly sprinkle the granulated sugar lightly over the top of the pudding about five minutes before you take it out of the oven the sugar will brown and crystallize on the surface.
Creole rice pudding can be served piping hot right from the oven or ice cold right from the refrigerator. It’s outstanding as is, but some New Orleanians like to drizzle a little cane syrup over the top!