By Joseph De La Cruz
This winter was the coldest and wettest I can remember. Walking home from school was the worst thing possible on a rainy day; my shoes, socks and khakis were drenched and I showed up home looking like I fell in Lake Merritt. On those days, I wanted was something to warm me. Like Arroz con Leche.
The smell of Arroz con Leche makes you crave the hot dessert no matter what. The scent of cinnamon in the air makes you feel like you’re cuddling in bed with the best thing possible. And as soon as it hits your taste buds, it makes you complete. It takes your taste buds to their own Candyfornialand, in Katy Perry's California Gurls video. So get ready to be satisfied.
1 cup short- or medium-grain rice
2 cups water
3 cups whole milk
1 cup heavy cream
1 large piece canela (Cinnamon stick)
1/2 vanilla bean, scraped, or 2 long strips lime or lemon zest
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup sugar
1/4 cup dark raisin (optional)
freshly ground, toasted canela, for sprinkling
Combine the rice and water in pot and bring to a boil over medium heat. Cook for a few minutes, stirring occasionally, until the water is almost gone and you can see the bottom of the pot when scraped with a spoon, about 5 minutes. Add the milk, cream, canela, vanilla bean with the pod, and the salt. Bring to a boil over a medium heat, stirring occasionally so it doesn’t stick to the bottom. Add the sugar, adjust the heat to maintain a constant soft simmer, and cook for about 5 minutes longer. Remove from the heat, discard the vanilla pod and the canela, and allow to cool. (You can place a layer of plastic wrap directly on top to prevent a skin from forming.)
Scoop into bowls, sprinkle the ground canela on top, and serve.
Serves 6 to 8 people
Some rices have a higher gluten content than others, making them thicken differently once cooled. If the rice thickens too much, simply stir in a little bit of milk. If you prefer thinner rice pudding, use whole milk instead of cream.