The holidays may be over, but the cold weather is sticking around, so calories still aren't counting, right? In Wintersweet, Tammy Donroe Inman offers a collection of sweet treats focused on seasonal ingredients and rich flavors. Perfect for those "not into fussy holiday baking and elaborate concoctions," this book relies on simplicity, and the recipes are neatly arranged by ingredients so you can easily whip up something after a quick peek into your cabinets.
Inman's recipe for rice pudding adds some bright, fruity notes to a simple, yet always satisfying classic and can be tweaked to fit your mood.
Persimmon, Pistachio and Coconut Rice Pudding Parfaits
Back in culinary school, I had to submit an original dish to be critiqued by my instructors on originality, flavor and presentation. Here’s what I came up with: coconut rice pudding served in a papaya “boat” fitted with a triangular “sail” made from pistachio-coconut meringue. It tasted great—but it looked like something a preschooler might have made. In this new-and-improved version, I use raw persimmons instead of papayas, and no silly sails. Parfait glasses or jelly jars allow you to see the pretty layers. The result is whimsical and comforting. This rice pudding recipe makes double what you’ll need for the parfaits, but then you’ll have plenty left over.
Makes 6 Parfaits
5 cups (1.25 L) whole milk
13½ ounces (400 ml) coconut milk
1 cup (185 g) long-grain white rice (like basmati or jasmine)
1 cinnamon stick
2⁄3 cup (135 g) granulated sugar
6 ripe Fuyu persimmons or 3 very ripe Hachiyas or wild persimmons (about 1½ pounds, 680 g)
¼ cup (30 g) chopped, shelled, salted pistachios
In a medium saucepan, combine the milk, coconut milk, rice and cinnamon stick over medium-high heat, stirring every few minutes to prevent the rice from sticking to the bottom of the pot. Bring the liquid to a boil, and then reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer uncovered for about 25 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the sugar and cook, stirring frequently, for 10 to 20 minutes more, or until the pudding is thickened but still creamy and pourable (think risotto). Remove the cinnamon stick. Let the pudding cool to room temperature.
When ready to serve, slice the Fuyu persimmons in half along their equators. With a paring knife, score the flesh on the cut-side all the way down to the skin in parallel lines about 1/2-inch (1-cm) apart. Do the same in the other direction, so you get perpendicular lines. Now you have little cubes you can spoon out of the skins when assembling the parfaits. (If using Hachiyas or wild persimmons, you can simply scoop out the soft, jelly-like flesh, removing any seeds.)
In small parfait glasses or jelly jars, alternate layers of rice pudding and persimmon, ending with a layer of rice pudding. Sprinkle the chopped pistachios on top. Serve warm, at room temperature, or chilled. Any leftover rice pudding can be eaten plain straight from the fridge.
Variation: Try this with pomegranate seeds or cubed kiwi, papaya or mango substituted for the persimmons.