Caramelised rice pudding

Caramelised rice pudding

Lisa Cohen and William Meppem

Another pudding-shop favourite, little take-away glass or earthenware bowls of chilled rice pudding are popular all around the eastern Mediterranean. Some are exotically flavoured with mastic, others with saffron or rosewater. Some have currants, pine nuts or pistachios lurking in their creamy depths, and some are served with the top browned under the griller to form a dark, burnt layer. My own version is rich and creamy, but the sweetness comes from macerated raisins and a crunchy brûlée topping rather than the pudding itself.


Quantity Ingredient
200g short-grain rice
100g raisins
170g caster sugar, plus extra, as necessary
30ml sherry
150ml water
500ml full-cream milk
250ml thickened cream
1/2 vanilla pod, split
1 stick cinnamon
60g unsalted butter
4 free-range egg yolks


  1. Put the rice into a large bowl and rinse well under cold running water, working your fingers through it to loosen the starch. Drain off the milky water and repeat until the water runs clear. Cover the rice with cold water and leave to soak for 10 minutes. Drain the rice and rinse a final time.
  2. Put the raisins into a small saucepan with 2 tablespoons of the sugar, the sherry and the water. Heat gently to dissolve the sugar, then bring to the boil. Remove the pan from the heat and leave the raisins to macerate for 20 minutes or so. Strain and set aside.
  3. Meanwhile, put the rice, milk, cream, vanilla pod and cinnamon stick into a large, heavy-based saucepan. Bring to the boil, then lower the heat and simmer gently for 10–15 minutes, until the mixture becomes thick and creamy. Stir occasionally to prevent it catching and burning on the bottom of the pan. Remove from the heat and set aside.
  4. Cream the butter and remaining sugar in an electric mixer until thick and pale. Beat in the egg yolks one at a time until thoroughly combined. With the motor on low, slowly pour the hot rice onto the egg mixture and continue beating for 2–3 minutes, then briefly mix in the raisins. Allow to cool, then remove the vanilla pod and cinnamon stick.
  5. Spoon into small bowls or ramekin dishes and refrigerate until chilled.
  6. When ready to serve, sprinkle the surface of each pudding with a thin, even layer of caster sugar. Caramelise the surface with a small kitchen blowtorch until the sugar melts to a shiny glaze. (If you don’t have a blowtorch, preheat an overhead griller to its highest setting. Place the puddings on a baking sheet and slide under the griller, about 5 cm from the heat. Watch carefully to make sure they don’t burn.) Allow the topping to cool for 5 minutes before serving so that it hardens to a crisp toffee.
Middle Eastern
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