Saffron rice pudding with spiced apricots

Saffron rice pudding with spiced apricots

By
From
New Feast
Serves
4-6
Photographer
Alan Benson

In this ambrosial dessert, tender, sunset-hued apricots make a beautiful sour-sweet counterpoint to the delicate, saffron-tinted rice. Make it when apricots are at their peak in the summer. At other times of the year you can use roasted rhubarb or top with slices of candied blood oranges.

Ingredients

Quantity Ingredient
800ml milk
90g caster sugar
1 orange, finely zested
1 small cinnamon stick
1/2 vanilla pod, split and seeds scraped
1 tablespoon saffron liquid, (see note)
100g short-grain rice
1 egg yolk
150ml pure cream
50g pine nut praline, (see note), to garnish
edible flowers, to garnish (optional)

Spiced apricots

Quantity Ingredient
500g golden caster sugar
500ml water
200ml sauternes or another dessert wine
16 apricots, halved and stones removed
8 cardamom pods, crushed
1/2 cinnamon stick
1 lemon, zested and juiced

Method

  1. To make the rice pudding, combine the milk, sugar, zest, cinnamon stick, vanilla pod and seeds and saffron liquid in a large, heavy-based saucepan over a medium heat. Bring to the boil, then stir in the rice and boil briskly for a minute, stirring. Lower the heat and simmer very gently for about an hour, or until the rice is creamy and the milk has been absorbed. If you have a heat-diffuser, this is the time to use it. You don’t need to stir constantly – especially for the first 20 minutes or so – but you do need to keep an eye on it to make sure the rice doesn’t catch and burn on the bottom of the pan. Remove the pan from the heat and allow to cool for a few minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, whisk the egg yolk with 2–3 tablespoons of the cream, then whisk this into the rice. Leave to cool completely – you can speed this up by scraping it into a bowl set in cold water. Fish out the bits of vanilla pod and cinnamon stick.
  3. Whip the rest of the cream to stiff peaks. Fold it into the cold rice, then cover with cling film and chill for up to 2 hours.
  4. For the spiced apricots, combine the sugar and water in a medium saucepan and heat gently until the sugar has dissolved. Bring to the boil, then lower the heat and simmer for 5 minutes.
  5. Stir in the Sauternes, then add the apricots, together with the cardamom, cinnamon stick, lemon zest and juice. Simmer gently for 10–15 minutes, or until the apricots are tender. Use a slotted spoon to transfer them to a bowl and, when they are cool, carefully slip off their skins. Cook the syrup until reduced by one-third. Strain through a sieve to remove the aromatics, then pour over the apricots and transfer to the fridge for at least an hour, until chilled.
  6. If you want to be fancy, serve individual portions in pretty glasses. Top with the apricots, praline and flowers (if using.) Otherwise, serve at the table in attractive bowls with the apricots on the side. Either way, we sometimes like to warm the apricots, which makes a lovely contrast with the chilled creamy rice.

Note:

  • To make the saffron liquid, soak 20 threads of saffron in a scant tablespoon of boiling water for 30 minutes.

Note:

  • To make the pine nut praline, combine 50 g caster sugar and 50 ml water in a small saucepan over a low heat. Tilt and gently shake the pan from time to time to help the sugar dissolve evenly. Once the sugar has dissolved completely, increase the heat to medium and simmer for about 5 minutes, or until it reaches the ‘thread’ stage, which is 110°C on a candy thermometer. Add 10-40 g pine nuts to the syrup and stir well. Lower the heat and cook, stirring continuously, for around 2 minutes until the sugar crystallises. Don’t panic! Keep everything moving around in the pan and the sugar will slowly redissolve to a liquid and begin to colour. Stir over the heat for a further 4–5 minutes until the sugar is caramelised to a lovely golden brown. Tip out onto a tray lined with baking paper and spread the mixture out roughly. Leave to cool then bash to coarse crumbs with a rolling pin. Store in the freezer.
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