Can you guess what dessert dates back to the 13th century and is still enjoyed by many different cultures around the world today? In fact, this sweet and creamy concoction has been around longer than apple pie, and was first mentioned in ancient Roman medical text books rather than cook books, where it was recommended for upset stomachs. The answer is rice pudding.
No one knows exactly who invented rice pudding, but some say that the delicious dish we know today was created by the soldiers of Marco Polo who discovered rice during their travels throughout Asia. The troops found it strange that the Chinese ate hot rice for breakfast, so they decided to add milk, thus forming the basis for the pudding we know today. Other food historians say that a treat called “Sholleh,” a sweet saffron and rosewater flavored rice, was brought to Persia by the Mongolians. Whatever its origins, Rice pudding is enjoyed throughout the world and has many variations. In the Philippines, it is called Tsampurado and made with cocoa powder; in Italy, Budino di Riso is made with raisins and an orange peel.
There are several fun Christmas traditions that associated with rice pudding. Instead of leaving out cookies for Santa Claus, children put out rice pudding before going to bed on Christmas Eve. In the Nordic countries of Europe a whole almond is hidden in the dish before it is served. The belief is that the person who eats the almond will be in luck the following year. In the Jewish culture, the menu for Hanukah celebrations is typically dairy, so rice pudding is a popular item.
However you and your family and friends celebrate the season, this yummy pudding, certainly takes the cake for ease and deliciosa taste. Check out Nueva Cocina’s Caribbean version enhanced with coconut and raisins, which are prevalent ingredients used in Puerto Rican cooking. This tasty Latin recipe is so popular on the island that it is sometimes served for breakfast, but it is definitely a staple throughout the holiday season, especially on Christmas Eve.
Caribbean Coconut Rice Pudding
1 pkg. Nueva Cocina Coconut Raisin Rice (follow package cooking directions)
1/4 cup Maple Syrup
1 tsp. Pure Vanilla Extract
1 tsp. Cinnamon Powder
1 Tbsp. Brown Sugar
1 cup Heavy Cream
Mix all of the above ingredients and pour into a 9″ greased baking pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes. Serve warm.
Optional: Top each serving with 1tsp. of Maple Syrup and/or shredded coconut
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