The last time I was in Manhattan, my dearest Marissa took me to a crowded little place called Rice to Riches.   Imagine all the amazing variety you’d find in a Ben & Jerry’s or Cold Stone Creamery, but dedicated to rice pudding instead of ice cream, with an in-your-face attitude and impeccable attention to detail.  Holy crap.  It was AMAAAAAAZING.   Rocky road, peanut butter, french toast, banana, mascarpone, coconut, passion fruit, the flavor list goes on.  I daydream of that place on a weekly basis.

Today I had a craving for rice pudding.  Thick, rich rice pudding.  And caramelized apples.  So, I made it.  I have no photos to prove it, but trust me, it’s worth making.  The trick is arborio rice for a super luxurious texture.  Next time I want to try other flavors — perhaps orange blossom water or saffron, or peanut butter honey banana, or chocolate espresso…. … …

THE RICE:

1/2 cup arborio rice

4 cups whole milk

1/3 cup brown sugar

a generous amount of cinnamon, whole or ground, as you like.  (cloves and cardamom might mix in nicely as well!)

2 tbl dried flaked coconut, unsweetened

pinch of salt

Combine in large saucepan, bring to boil, let simmer for at least half an hour (stirring every few minutes to avoid burning or boiling over), or until the rice is soft and the whole mixture thickens.  Remove from heat.

Now, if you’re feeling sassy like I was today, at this point please drizzle in a few lugs of condensed milk, you will thank yourself later.  Perhaps some vanilla essence or liquor, go for it!

Now, peel and chop an apple (the more acidic kind — the “manzana israel” here in peru is the best).  Sautee for a few minutes with butter and a little brown sugar.  I sprinkled in some cinnamon and ground ginger to punch it up a bit.

Serve rice pudding warm with apples on top.  Enjoy!