Coconut milk rice pudding is a delicious dairy free dessert. It is also a great way to upscale overcooked rice.
If you’ve never had rice pudding before, it is sweet, creamy, and incredibly delicious.
I actually had rice pudding ice cream in Penn Station before ever having the actual pudding.
I was surprised by how sweet the ice cream was and the shopkeeper told me people often are because it’s a very different flavor than you’d expect.
The whole idea of rice being a dessert is a little strange until you have it. I felt the same way about cheesecake too before I tried it for the first time.
This coconut milk rice pudding is especially delicious and completely dairy free.
It also isn’t a difficult to make dessert even if it does take a little while, but it is well worth it by the end!
The primary role of sugar is to be a sweetener. However, sugar also contributes to the tenderness and moistness of the baked good by absorbing and retaining moisture and helps create the golden brown color when baking as it caramelizes.
Recipes with more sugar often result in softer, moister textures. However, I learned the hard way that too much sugar leads to a sticky mess.
When it’s heated, sugar caramelizes, resulting in a rich, complex flavor and a brown color. This adds both flavor and color to baked goods and is also the process in which caramel sauce, dulce de leche, caramel candies, and regular candies are made.
When used in recipes containing yeast, the sugar is eaten by the yeast, producing carbon dioxide and causing the dough to rise.
Sugar also acts as a preservative in jams, jellies, and fruit preserves by reducing water activity and preventing microbial growth.
There are many different types of sugar, including white sugar, brown sugar, vanilla sugar, powdered sugar, turbinado sugar, and demerara sugar.
When a recipe calls for “sugar” without specifying anything else, it’s referring to regular white sugar.
White sugar (sometimes called granulated sugar, table sugar, or white granulated sugar) is made of either beet sugar or cane sugar, which has undergone a refining process.
It is the easiest to find and most commonly used.
Brown sugar is white sugar with molasses added to it.
It is commonly used in chocolate chip cookie recipes, and it’s rare for a recipe that calls for brown sugar not to also call for white sugar as well.
When a recipe calls for “brown sugar” but doesn’t specify what type (light or dark), it is referring to light brown sugar.
In my recipes, you can use whatever type of brown sugar you have on hand, whether it is dark brown sugar, light brown sugar, or demerara sugar – which is very common in Israel.
Just keep in mind that the flavor and color will be slightly different, depending on what you choose to use.
Turbinado sugar is better known as “raw sugar.” But, despite this name, the sugar is not really “raw.”
Instead, it’s partially refined sugar that retains some of the original molasses.
The term “raw sugar” may also give off the impression that it is somehow healthier.
In reality, turbinado sugar is nutritionally similar to white sugar.
Demerara sugar is very popular in Israel and is especially delicious in tea, but is also used for baking.
Unlike white sugar, demerara sugar undergoes minimal processing and retains some vitamins and minerals.
However, it is still not much healthier than white sugar.
Vanilla sugar is not very common in the States. However, it is common in Israel and parts of Europe.
This is sugar that sat for an extended period of time with vanilla beans, giving it a vanilla flavor.
This type of sugar is common in the United Kingdom.
It has a grain finer than white (granulated) sugar and larger than powdered sugar.
Caster sugar is often called for in recipes for delicate baked goods like meringues, souffles, and sponge cakes.
You can use a 1:1 conversion rate between caster sugar and white (granulated) sugar.
Powdered sugar, sometimes known as confectioners’ sugar, is a sugar with a powdered texture.
This sugar is rarely used for baking. Instead, it is used for dusting desserts and making frosting, icing, and glazes.
In some countries, you can also find powdered vanilla sugar.
It is made the exact same way regular vanilla sugar is made. However, the sugar used is powdered instead of granulated.
Vanilla Extract vs Vanilla sugar
In my recipes, I don’t specify what kind of vanilla to use.
The reason for this is that in the States, vanilla extract is exclusively used.
Meanwhile in Israel, along with many European countries, vanilla sugar is common.
In most, if not all recipes, both vanilla extract and vanilla sugar can be used.
In recipes where vanilla sugar can be used instead of extract, you can replace them 1:1.
Replacing Sugar with Honey
If you’d prefer to use honey instead of sugar, you can do so with pretty good results.
Honey can be two or even three times as sweet depending on the honey, so for every 1 cup of sugar, you can use 1/2 to 2/3 cup honey.
Since honey adds liquid, you need to remove some to balance it out. For every cup of honey, remove a 1/4 cup of liquid.
Also, it burns faster than granulated sugar, so you want to lower the baking temperature by 25 F. In addition, check it early and often to avoid burning or overbaking.
How to Store Sugar
Sugar should be stored in an airtight container to prevent clumping and moisture absorption, and kept in a cool, dry place.
Types of Vanilla
Vanilla comes from a pod commonly known as a “vanilla bean”, which comes from the vanilla orchids.
Vanilla pods have been used for flavoring since the Aztecs and was introduced to Europe by a Spanish conquistador, along with cocoa.
Vanilla extract is created by soaking vanilla beans in alcohol for some time. This is the most commonly used type of vanilla.
Vanilla sugar is common in Europe and some parts of the Middle East, like Israel.
It is made from vanilla beans sitting in sugar, vanilla bean powder mixed with sugar, or sugar mixed with vanilla extract.
In some countries, like Italy, you can also find vanilla powdered sugar, which is used for confections.
Vanilla paste is generally a specialty item. It is a thick paste that contains a blend of the scraped-out vanilla pod seeds and vanilla extract.
You can use it as you do vanilla extract and it will leave flakes of vanilla bean like you see in vanilla bean ice cream.
Imitation Vanilla, otherwise known as artificial vanilla or vanilla essence, is made from synthetic vanilla.
This is the compound that naturally occurs in vanilla beans and gives it its flavor.
Can I use imitation vanilla?
Many will tell you that you should use high quality vanilla, just like they say you should use the best cocoa.
However, most of us will probably not be willing to pay the hefty price that comes with exceptionally high-quality ingredients.
Overall, vanilla is very expensive, so the extract is as well.
So, if you’re not going to get regular quality vanilla extract, you might as well use imitation vanilla.
Can vanilla extract be used as a substitute for vanilla beans?
Yes, vanilla extract can be used as a substitute for vanilla beans. Use about 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract for each inch of vanilla bean.
How to Store Vanilla
Pure vanilla extract and other vanilla products should be kept away from heat and light, and should be stored in an airtight container in a cool, dark place.
WHY SORT RICE
Sorting rice is useful because I’ve actually found bugs in rice before, especially with already opened bags of rice.
To be sure the rice is clean, measure out how much rice you need, then pour some of it out onto a white plate.
Sift through the rice to make sure there are no bugs – some of which look like small worms.
When done, pour the sorted rice into a pot and repeat with the remaining rice.
As a secondary step, I then fill the pot with water and agitate the rice with my fingers. This helps get anything that may have been missed to float to the top.
Pour out the water, and if you found anything, repeat until nothing comes up.
HOW TO STORE DRY RICE
Store the remaining dry rice by placing it in an airtight container or a resealable plastic bag. Keep it in a cool, dark place.
Doing so will protect the rice from bugs.
I always check the rice before using it even when it is stored well, just in case.
WHY WASH RICE
There are three benefits to rinsing rice.
Firstly, it removes any debris.
Secondly, it removes surface starch. If the starch is not removed, it can cause the rice to clump together and get gummy as it cooks.
Thirdly, if there are any bugs in the rice that weren’t caught, they will float to the surface while being washed.
Some say to rinse the rice repeatedly until the water runs clear. This isn’t necessary.
Instead, rinse the rice thoroughly a few times. After that, most of the starch should be removed and the water should be only slightly cloudy.
The way I like to wash rice is by putting it in a large bowl or a pot and filling it with water. Then, I shape my hand into a claw and use it to agitate the rice.
This brings up both debris and bugs that may have been missed during sorting.
WHY TOAST RICE
Toasting rice is a step some recipes require where you first lightly fry the uncooked rice. This step is usually done with rice that has not been rinsed.
As with toasting spices and nuts, toasting grains before cooking can enhance their flavor.
Rice is no exception, as it gains a nutty depth which adds an extra layer of flavor to a final dish.
Another benefit is that by toasting the rice first, you are cooking the starches.
This, like washing rice, helps prevent the rice from being sticky. Instead, each grain cooks separately.
RATIO WATER TO RICE
There are many different types of rice. The most popular types require two cups of water for one cup of rice. Some, however, need less water:
Short Grained Rice needs 1 and 1/8 cups water.
Basmati Rice needs 1 and 1/4 cups water.
American Long Grain Rice needs 1 and 1/2 cups water.
Jasmine Rice needs 1 and 3/4 cups water.
Also, when multiplying the recipe, rice often needs less water than you’d think. For example, with American long grain rice:
1 cup rice needs 1 and 1/2 cups water.
2 cups rice need 2 and 3/4 cups water.
3 cups rice need 3 and 1/2 cups water.
Does rice pudding contain milk?
Yes, rice pudding contains milk. In fact, it is one of the main ingredients for rice pudding.
The best way to make rice pudding without milk is by replacing the milk with a dairy free milk alternative, such as coconut milk.
Does rice pudding have raisins?
Raisins are often added in rice pudding and you can add them if you want to. Personally, I like it better without raisins or with golden raisins.
For a fall flare, you can also use cranberries instead of raisins.