Harvest Spice Rice Pudding
Rice pudding is one of my favorite comfort foods, and a hot cup of tea solves many a dreary mood in my house, so combining them in this time of cold weather and global stress seems like just the thing! It is relatively inexpensive in these days of ever-increasing grocery prices but satisfies as few other foods do. Harvest Spice is such a warming fragrant tea and it was natural for this recipe.
Now, many of us have favorite ways to make this dish, and they are all good. Some like it creamy and sweet, some like it sliceable, there are fans of warm, cold, oven-baked, stovetop cooked, with egg, without egg, sweetened, unsweetened, or even savory and this idea is adaptable for any of them, but I will share my most often made version, with some possible alterations at the end.
A brief note on ingredients:
Rice: A short-grained white like Arborio will take a higher percentage of tea, and make a softer creamier pudding. A white Jasmine is about 2 to 1 tea to rice and makes a slightly more solid aromatic final product. Various types of brown rice work well too! They add a slight nuttiness. I don't recommend black or purple rice or wild rice for this as the strong flavor of the rice overwhelms the tea.
Milk: I like this made with whole cow milk, goat milk, cashew milk, you name it! Just be aware that the plant milk will result in a less firm custard.
Eggs: smaller eggs make a less solid final pudding, but that really isn't a problem. Anything larger than a large chicken egg, though, and you will have rice frittata instead of pudding. Also not a bad thing, just not the goal here!
Sugar: I've made it with honey, raw sugar, white and brown. In this case, if you add sugar I would stick with white as it doesn't overwhelm the tea flavor. On the other hand, if you decide to use this idea and use one of the strong black teas, honey might be really nice!
2.5 cups water
1 cup rice
1.5 cups milk
2 large eggs
½ cup sugar
½ cups Harvest Spice Tea
The night before (or at least a few hours)
Brew 2.5 cups of very strong harvest spice tea. I used ¼ of a cup to 2.5 cups water. Cover and let steep until time to cook rice.
Measure out 1.5 cups milk, and stir in ¼ cups Harvest Spice tea. Cover and allow to infuse in the refrigerator until after the rice is cooked.
Next day (or at least several hours later)
Cook rice in strained tea, using recommended rice to liquid percentages for your chosen rice.
Whisk together strained milk, eggs, and sugar, and add to the cooked rice, stir well. I find a potato masher handy for making sure there aren't any lumps of cooked rice. I usually use about 1 and 3/4 cups of cooked rice, but if you are a little under or over it's ok!
Pour into a greased baking dish and bake at 350 for about an hour, or until a knife comes out of the middle clean! Cover for a moister pudding, bake uncovered for a toasty almost caramelized top.
Bake in small single-serve cups with less or no sugar for a pre-made breakfast - just heat and eat! I use wide mouth canning jars filled halfway. I can throw a lid on them and take my breakfast to work in a microwave-safe glass container, with room for more milk to be added to my protein-rich 'hot cereal'! Keep an eye on them in the oven, they bake a bit faster.
For a baked or stovetop vegan version, try infusing your favorite plant milk, and cooking your rice in it. Use about ½ cup more of the milk than you would water for your rice of choice. The starch from the rice will mix with the infused milk to lend a slightly creamy sauce.
After you have made it once so you know the flavor and complexity the tea adds, you may want to add chopped dried fruit or nuts. I like it plain, but I certainly would not turn it down if it arrived warm and fragrant on my table with some dried pear bits baked in with it!
For a truly decadent dessert, serve warm with half and half, or fresh whipped cream. If you are thinking those too could be tea-infused...you are correct!