French Fridays with Dorie
Just the thought of Rice pudding with caramelized apples makes me sick.
Actually the truth is more that when I got sick I would eat rice pudding. Its an association I have a hard time pushing back. Rice pudding was something my mom would make whenever I would get ill and stay home from school. She chose it not so much because I liked it or because I deserved a special treat for surviving a night with vomitous fever; but rather because she felt rice pudding was “easy to digest” — her way of saying I should eat something with better odds of not showing itself again later.
I don’t know the nutritional and medical validity of her strategy but I can say with certainty that somewhere between violently throwing up and reluctantly heading back to school there would always be at least one bowl of rice pudding.
A few years later at high school the cafeteria lunch line rice pudding would take on a more unpleasant association for me. This high school rice pudding was not the delicate vanilla scented, home-style nourishing confection my mother had once made to assuage my bilious constitution. This pudding was a dense, sticky, ill-textured, unnatural yellow blob of putty. Its sole redeeming quality was the ability to sit in the cafeteria reach-in for weeks before the school nurse or Child Protective Services would require its removal and destruction.
I don’t recall anybody ever choosing it to eat this pudding, cups with expiration dates far into the future would sit next to the more appealing items offered. Potato chips, pretzels, popsicles, even the “pizza in a bag”. Nobody ever came for the pudding.
Until the day Barry Hendricks had one handy. As I was walking across the school quad one day he spotted me, threw a container of the rice pudding at the back of my head and screamed “faggot” as loud as he could. Splat. Ouch.
Barry and I had not been in a single class together since the 6th grade and since I wasn’t inclined to hang out behind the bleachers smoking pot all day we didn’t really know each other. I had no idea why he would single me out for bullying or pudding. Barry wasn’t what I would call a very smart guy but he did seem to know I was a faggot four full years before I did.
So there is that I suppose.
Nevertheless, rice pudding wasn’t something I had been keen to experience again.
Rice Pudding with Caramel Apples
Gratefully this rice pudding with caramel apples recipe brings to mind none of these unpleasant associations. The pudding is certainly easy enough, makes use of inexpensive ingredients usually has at hand, and even with the apples, took only a few minutes to make. And while it can be a little tricky making caramel at home the most demanding cooking skill involved is stirring with a wooden spoon.
All of which has me wondering just how cafeteria ladies could have fucked it up so badly?
How does the institutionalization of a fine dessert destroy it so thoroughly? Even meatloaf wasn’t that bad. Seriously, if you can’t sell out your rice pudding in three days or less then perhaps you should think about revising your recipe. If students have so little regard for your rice pudding the only thing they find use for it is to hurl it at an unsuspecting student then perhaps it should be eliminated from the menu altogether.
High school is no place for bullies or bad rice pudding. Just the thought of them makes me sick.
The big takeaway for me from this recipe is to use Arborio rice. Seems only obvious that the same rice variety used for risotto would make the creamiest rice pudding but I had not thought of that before.
The original recipe by Dorie Greenspan can be found here
This is what you will need:
- 3 cups water
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 cup arborio rice or medium-grain white rice
- 4 cups whole milk
- 1/3 cup sugar
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 2 medium Gala or Fuji apples (13 to 14 ounces total)
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
- 1 tablespoon unsalted butter, room temperature
- 1/2 cup apple cider
- Pinch of salt
- 1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
- Whipped cream (for topping; optional)
This is how you make it:
- Bring 3 cups water and 1/4 teaspoon salt to boil in a large, heavy saucepan. Add the rice and boil for 10 minutes. Drain rice and discard the cooking water. Rinse and wipe out the saucepan.
- Combine milk and sugar in the saucepan; bring to boil over medium-high heat, stirring until sugar dissolves. Add the rice; reduce heat to medium and simmer until rice is very tender, most of milk is absorbed, and pudding is thickened but still creamy and reduced to scant 3 cups, stirring occasionally, about 35 minutes (you may need to up this time to 40-45 minutes if you have a lot of liquid after that initial 35 minutes). Remove from heat.
- Stir in vanilla extract. Transfer the pudding to a bowl. Press plastic wrap onto surface of pudding to keep a skin from forming; let the pudding cool to room temperature. Refrigerate until cold.
- Peel and core the apples. Cut each into small-medium chunks and set aside.
- Combine sugar and lemon juice in medium nonstick skillet. Stir over medium-high heat until sugar dissolves and syrup is medium amber color, occasionally swirling skillet, 3 to 4 minutes.
- Remove from heat; add butter to skillet and swirl until melted (mixture may bubble vigorously). Return skillet to medium heat;
- add cider and pinch of salt and bring to boil. Add apples and simmer until tender, stirring often, about 6 minutes.
- Add 1/2 cup whipping cream and boil until sauce thickens slightly, about 8 to 10 minutes, stirring almost constantly. Transfer apples with caramel sauce to heatproof bowl. Cool caramel apples until lukewarm or room temperature. If you want to use the apples soon after making them, place the bowl in another larger one filled with ice and water to cool faster, or if you have more time, cool them in the fridge.
To serve just layer the pudding with the apples in a parfait glass or mason jar. This is a great do ahead dessert. Both the pudding and the caramel apples can be made 1 day ahead. Cover and refrigerate. The pudding can be served chilled or allowed to come down to room temp. Stir the apples over medium heat until just warm before using, or serve room temperature, or even cold if you prefer. Never throw the pudding at anybody in a homophobic rage.
This Rice Pudding with Caramelized Apples recipe was an assignment for French Friday’s with Dorie, a cooking group working its way through Dorie Greenspan’s culinary tome “ Around My French Table” . We generally avoid including the recipes in our posts. However, wherever there has been a significant adaptation by me or where the recipe has already been publicly posted by Ms. Greenspan or her publishers or by hundreds of other bloggers who adore her as much as I do, I will either include it here (only when adapted) or provide a direct link to it. Please feel free to contact me via the link provided on my page if you need any assistance finding a French Friday with Dorie Recipe. You really should buy the book though.
It will change your life as it has mine.