After having a wonderful lunch at my neighbourhood Vietnamese restaurant (yes, I’m very fortunate to have an awesome Vietnamese restaurant nearby), I was thinking all things rice. When I got home later, I wanted to make a rice pudding.
At this time of year, the flavours of gingerbread permeate everything, so I thought of other things that have that similar combination of spice flavours. The first thing that came to mind was carrot cake: ginger, cinnamon, cloves, and nutmeg are all major elements in most recipes for carrot cake. Sometimes, one may find fennel or cardamom, so I decided to incorporate those into the carrot component of my dish as well.
Within the rice pudding itself, I wanted a rich brown sugar flavour and it was also the perfect place to incorporate the cream cheese to add an extra richness to finish. Between the finishing cream cheese and the butter to start it, it becomes like a butterscotch at the end.
After a lunch redolent with savoury fish sauce, rich fried items like spring rolls and green onion cakes (it’s a local thing here, it’s awesome), a sweet way to end the day balances the palate. And, hey, there’s carrots so it’s healthy?? (probably not 😉 )
Carrot Cake Rice Pudding
For the Butterscotch Rice Pudding:
1/4 cup butter
1 Tbsp fresh grated ginger
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp allspice
2 Tbsp brown sugar
1/2 cup white rice
4 cups milk
1/4 cup cream cheese
In a medium pot over medium heat, add the butter, ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg, and allspice. Stir for a minute to toast the spices, add the brown sugar and rice. Stir for another minute to coat the rice with the spices. Add the milk, bring to a simmer and cover with a lid. Take the pot off the heat briefly and lower the heat to medium low. Once the burner has cooled to that point, return the covered pot to the heat. This prevents much of the bubbling over. You want to avoid that to ensure none of the sugary milk boils over and makes a mess.
Occasionally stir the mixture while it simmers for 50-60 minutes until most of the liquid has absorbed into the rice. Take off the heat and stir in the cream cheese. The carrot step can be done on the back burner at the same time since both don’t require constant attention throughout the hour or so it’ll take.
For the Honey Glazed Carrots:
2 large carrots, peeled, quartered then the quarters cut across in half
1-1/2 cups water
1 Tbsp fennel seeds
1 Tbsp green cardamom pods
2 Tbsp honey
In a medium, wide-bottomed pan over medium heat, bring the water to a simmer. Add the fennel seeds and cardamom. Allow to simmer for five minutes, then add the carrots. Simmer for 25-30 minutes until the carrots are very tender. Drain away the liquid, reserving it, along with the carrots. Discard the spices.
Return the liquid to the pan with the honey. Bring the mixture to a simmer, add the carrots back in and simmer until the liquid reduces and the honey starts to coat the carrots (about 15 minutes). The carrots should be done glazing as the rice pudding is finishing up if you do them at the same time (which is ideal for service purposes).
Divide the Butterscotch Rice Pudding over four plates. Top each with some of the Honey Glazed Carrots. Serves 4.