Comforting Saffron Rice Pudding BruléeNothing better than break open your gift of a dessert, says the Epicurean. Saffron rice pudding brulée works perfectly for this.
This is the time of the year for comfort food – warm and satisfying, something to curl up on the sofa with. Few desserts are more comforting than rice pudding, with its creamy, forgiving texture and fragrant, lightly toasted rice. That it is so easy to make is, of course, a welcome bonus.
Today’s version involves two tricks of the trade. The first is the addition of saffron, a luxurious spice that is the dried stigma of the crocus flower. It is sold in delis and on the spice stand at the market in 1g or 2g boxes, and a little goes a long way. It adds a distinct aroma to dishes and works perfectly with this simple rice pudding.
The second trick is the brulée part, which involves caramelizing a thin layer of sugar on top of the pudding to create a crisp crust that shatters when hit with a spoon. It adds a little variety to the texture and it’s always satisfying to break open your gift of a dessert.
Melt the butter
Melt the butter over a medium/low heat in a medium-sized saucepan and add the rice. Stir for a few minutes until the rice is lightly toasted and fragrant, and then add the cream, milk, honey, raisins and saffron. How much saffron you add depends on the strength of the saffron and your taste. About 0.25 g should do. Cover the pan and when the milk starts to simmer, turn the heat down as low as you can.
Continue to cook it until the rice is very soft and the pudding is still creamy, say for about 40 minutes. Stirring every 5-10 minutes will help make the pudding even creamier. If it looks like it is drying out, you can add a little bit of milk.
Take the pan off the heat and divide the rice into shallow, heat-proof dishes or ramekins. Let them cool down to room temperature and then spoon a light layer of white sugar over each pudding (raw or dark sugar burns too easily, so it is not suitable here). If you have a brulée torch (who does?!), use that to caramelize the sugar into a solid disc. Otherwise, place the ramekins under a very hot grill in the oven to achieve the same effect.
Let the sugar cool down to solidify (about 10 minutes) and serve.
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