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Even though industrialization and processed foods have invaded the country, including small towns, we still cherish the taste of the snacks, candies, and desserts that are made using fruits or grains. It will be very sad to lose those candied sweet potatoes, pumpkins, pineapples, figs, coconut-stuffed lemons or the nut pralines, just to name a few. I hope the new generations embrace the natural products instead of all the processed options out there.
One of the most popular sweet desserts we have in our Mexican culture is the “Arroz con leche”,
which, as with the other candies or desserts I mentioned above, is all natural, easy to make and very delicious.
Let me start off by saying that this is not the old-fashioned way of making Rice Pudding. This, of course, will depend on your age, since condensed milk has been around in México since before the 50’s. I also have to say that this is the way I remember it being cooked, and it is the easy way. My mom would boil rice with water and then add the condensed milk, without even thinking twice about the other ways of making it. It could be that having eight children didn’t give her much time for long cooking processes. So when somebody wrote me asking for the recipe, I felt a little embarrassed to let them know that I use a shortcut with this easier method and not the old-fashioned way that uses just plain whole milk and sugar with a long-simmering process until it’s all reduced to a creamy texture. The bright side of using this method is that your rice pudding will be ready in half the time.
Below is a picture of some of the candied fruit one can find here in the States at the Latin Market. I encourage you to try them if you have the chance.
|In this picture Mexican Fruit Candied: Pumpkin, Pineapple, Figs, Sweet Potato and Visnaga (Curcubita Ficifolia).|
- 3/4 Cup short white rice*
- 2 1/2 Cups of water
- 1 small piece of a cinnamon stick (see picture below)
- 3/4 cup whole milk**
- 1/2 cup of condensed milk
- 1/4 cup of raisins (optional)
- Ground cinnamon for dusting
* Short rice has a higher starch content, which will render a creamier rice pudding, but you can use medium or long grain rice as well.
** Skim milk or 2 % can also be used here; if you want a creamier consistency then a little more milk will be needed in the final cooking stage.
The sweetness of the condensed milk will be enough for some, but if you have a very sweet tooth go ahead and drizzle in some more.
Other flavorings like a teaspoon of vanilla, lemon or orange rind, or even the leaves of orange trees are all good additions.
1. Place water, rice and the piece of cinnamon in a medium saucepan. Turn heat to high and bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer uncovered for about 20 minutes, until rice is tender.
2. While the rice is cooking, mix the whole milk with the condensed milk and stir well.
3. The rice will be ready when all the water has evaporated and it has formed some holes over the surface like in the above picture.
4. Remove pot from heat. Pour the whole milk and condensed milk mix into the saucepan and stir. If you would like to add the raisins or vanilla extract, you can add them now.
5. Return saucepan to heat, cover and keep cooking until it thickens. It will take about 5 to 10 minutes. Stir occasionally to avoid it from sticking to the bottom of the saucepan.
6. If the rice looks too dry for your taste, add 1/4 cup of warm whole milk and stir. The end result has to look like a soft and creamy pudding.
7. If serving warm, place in small cups and sprinkle ground cinnamon. When serving cold, pour rice pudding into a container and cover with a plastic wrap pressed down to the rice surface and refrigerate. Dust with cinnamon when serving.