The first time I had something like this was back in grad school, at Lula. They served a dessert special that was a flavor-of-the-day Rice Pudding Empanada. Rice pudding, wrapped in pastry, deep-fried. It was unusual, rich, and comforting. I looked forward to the nights I closed when they had one leftover — it was mine for the taking.
My favorite flavor was chocolate chip, and as I was looking around for a simple desert to make after dinner Friday night, that filling came to mind. I’ve never actually made my rice pudding into an empanada, but the filling by itself is simple and delicious.
If you’ve never made rice pudding, it’s worth a try. A great way to use leftover white rice, and the ingredients are things you probably have on hand. I didn’t have leftovers on Friday, so I cooked some, which adds about 15 minutes to the prep time. This recipe is based on one from The Joy of Cooking; I’ve added a leftover-rice option and the chocolate chips. Note: You cannot use minute rice, or boil-in-bag rice, to make rice pudding. It has been processed to remove the stickiness, and it won’t form a pudding.
Chocolate Chip Rice Pudding
- about 2 3/4 cups cooked white rice (not minute rice or boil-in-bag rice; make sure the rice was salted)
(If you don’t have leftover rice, combine 3/4 cup med- or long-grain white rice with 1 1/2 cups water in a saucepan. Add a heaping 1/4 tsp salt, and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer, cover, and let cook for about 15 minutes, until water is absorbed. Proceed with recipe as follows.)
- 4 cups whole milk (I’ve used a combo of 2% milk and half-n-half, with success)
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 1/2 tsp vanilla
- 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
- a handful of semi- or bittersweet chocolate chips, for each serving
Combine the cooked rice, milk, and sugar in a large, heavy saucepan. Bring to a simmer over medium heat, and cook uncovered for 30 to 40 minutes, stirring frequently, especially toward the end of cooking. The pudding is done when the rice and milk have amalgamated into a thick porridge. Remove from heat, and stir in the vanilla and cinnamon.
Let cool for about 15 minutes, either in the saucepan or in serving bowls. Gently stir a handful of chocolate chips into each serving, letting the heat from the pudding melt the chocolate. You can either leave the melted chocolate in random melted chunks, or stir completely into the pudding to allow the chocolate to flavor all the rice (I prefer the former).
To really go over-the-top, serve topped with whipped cream.