Friday, March 28, 2008
Gâteau de Riz
Today I'm thinking about the romance of rice. So many cuisines in every corner of the globe have rice as a key element of their daily diet. It has a central place on tables throughout Asia, Africa, North America, Latin America and Europe. And since there are so many different types of rice and ways to prepare each type, it never loses its allure.
Since rice forms such a nice canvas for so many additional flavors, it’s easy to imagine many different and delicious versions of a simple rice pudding. Escoffier made rice pudding fancy by adding gelatin, folding in whipped cream and glacéed fruit and molding it into a dessert called Riz a L'Impératrice.
Gâteau de Riz is another French style of rice pudding that is poured into a caramel lined dish or pan and baked. If you enjoy rice and you like crème brulee, I think you’ll also savor Gâteau de Riz. It’s creamy, a bit rich and the citrus strikes just the right note. The French do have their ways.
- Be super-super careful when swirling the caramel in your dish or pan. The caramel is going to be very hot and will make the pan hot as well very quickly. Use an oven mitt if you have one. This will also help avoid accidentally spilling any on your hands. Caramel burns are very painful so exercise an abundance of caution.
- The darker the caramel the less sweet it will taste. You can smell when it’s ready and just about to smoke. Don’t forget it continues to cook and darken very rapidly even after you take it off the heat, so you want to catch it right before it looks perfect.
- I baked mine in a 9" cake pan, but this dessert can be a bit tricky to unmold, so you can use a casserole dish and simply spoon it out if you don't want to risk it.
- Some versions of this dessert add raisins soaked in rum. If you have a vanilla bean, you can use half of the bean in place of the extract for a stronger vanilla flavor. There are many possible variations. I prefer this simple version, but let your imagination run if you’re in the mood to experiment. Also, you can certainly try this with Arborio rice or other favorites.
- Any remaining portion of the Gâteau will keep tightly covered in the refrigerator for a couple of days.
Gâteau de Riz
serves 10 to 12
2/3 C rice
1/2 C sugar
1/4 t salt
3 1/2 C milk
1 C heavy cream
zest of 1/2 orange
zest of 1/2 lemon
1/2 t vanilla
3/4 C sugar
3 T water
Caramelize 3/4 C of sugar with the 3 T of water until deep caramel in color. Remove from the heat and pour into the bottom of a 9” cake pan, 1 1/2-quart terrine, casserole, or Pyrex baking dish. Swirl very carefully and gently to coat half-way up the sides.
Bring the milk, cream, sugar and salt to a slight boil. Add the rice and citrus zest. Lower the heat and simmer, stirring occasionally, for 40 to 45 minutes.
Preheat oven at 425 degrees.
Whisk the eggs together. After rice has simmered, take off the heat and whisk eggs into the rice. Add vanilla extract.
Pour the rice pudding into the caramel dish, place it in the center of the oven and bake until the caramel begins to bubble up the sides, about 10 to 15 minutes.
Cool and serve. Luxuriate in the romance of rice.