Rice pudding is the dessert of Gods, if you ask me, and not just because I'm a rice luva. For years, I've been trying to slip rice pudding in for Christmas dessert because I want more rice pudding in my life and an excuse to make it (I have yet to succeed). There was a time when I didn't need an excuse to make dessert. I would make sweets whenever I got a hankering, then pawn it off on my friends or neighbors. However, in recent years making dessert means we are eating all of it, which is a bad, bad thing.

This needed to change. We all know sugar isn't a good thing, but I have always been a firm believer in moderation being the key to food happiness and general life happiness. Dessert isn't a bad thing. LOTS of dessert is a bad thing. So if I could exercise just a little bit of self control, having dessert around more often doesn't have to be a bad thing. Besides, I don't want dessert to be taboo for my kid or for any of us for that matter. And it means enough rice pudding throughout the year that I don't have to break any Christmas dinner traditions. 

serves 10-12
adapted from Donna Hay

This recipe can easily be cut in half, which is how I made it the first time. This is highly recommended if you're not cooking for a crowd.

2 cups (400 g) arborio rice
6 cups water
2 cans full fat coconut milk (800 ml)
1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
1/4 tsp kosher salt

1/4 cup honey
1 tsp orange zest
2 Tbs orange juice
1/2 vanilla bean, scraped

6 large nectarines, firm but ripe, pitted and quartered

For the rice: 
Place the rice and water in a large pot and bring to a boil. 
Cook uncovered for 10 minutes or until almost all of the water is absorbed. 
Add 2 1/2 cups of the coconut milk, sugar and salt. Stir to combine. 
Reduce the heat to low, cover with a  tight-fitting lid and simmer for 8-10 more minutes until the rice is cooked all the way through, stirring occasionally to prevent burning. 
Off the heat, stir in up to the remaining coconut milk depending on how loose you like your rice pudding. As the rice cools, it will firm up. I like mine on the looser side, so I added almost all of the remaining coconut milk, adding about 1/2 cup just before serving. 

For the honey: 
In a small pot, heat honey, orange zest, orange juice and scraped vanilla bean until combined. 

For the grilled nectarines: 
Heat grill or grill pan on high heat. 
Brush the grill or pan with oil and place nectarine quarters flesh side down. 
Grill for 3-4 minutes each side. 

To serve: 
Spoon coconut rice into a serving bowl. Top with grilled nectarines and berries, if you like, and drizzle as much honey to sweeten. 

The rice pudding will keep in the fridge for up to 5 days, tightly covered. 


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