Toasted Coconut Rice Pudding

Although it feels odd to say it, my history with rice pudding is a complicated one. My mom ate it often when I was a kid. Not the homemade kind, but the kind that came in a small individual package with a pullback foil top. I had no major objections to it.  But this was not my thing, nor my sister’s for that matter; it was simply “mom’s treat”.  Fast-forward years later, post-culinary school, when I got my first cooking job.  If you’ve read my about my page, my pastry connection is explained a bit more there.

Rice pudding was a signature dessert at the club where I cooked, it had always been and always would be a menu item.  It was old school and terrifically popular.  Thus I made it in great quantities for the restaurant, for lunch and dinner service as well as private parties.  I made it religiously, every other day.  I was given some freedom with the recipe.  It just needed to be a traditional one, with raisins,  I could make it with my eyes closed, and I could tell when it was done by smell.  After I left my position there and accepted a position managing a restaurant, I stopped making rice pudding.  I was incredibly thankful for that!

Over the past few years, I have begun to see this old classic make its way back onto menus, from the traditional to the unusual.  Enough years have passed since my time making rice pudding and I was able to entertain the thought of eating and making this sweet treat once again.  This is my recipe for a more modern version of the old classic that once tortured me.  The use of coconut milk lightens this pudding and creates a subtle coconut flavor that I love.

toasted coconut

Rice pudding began long ago, a common item in the kitchens of noble kings and queens. Rice, once an expensive luxury import, was only available to the very elite. The first rice puddings resembled more of a savory pudding side dish served along with the entrée.  Later, when sugar was incorporated, this specialty item evolved into more of a sweet treat that was served as a dessert.

Not until the 18th century, when rice became substantially more affordable, did rice pudding become more common–so much so that large institutions like hospitals and schools offered rice pudding as a cheap dessert that was easy to produce in quantity.

Rice pudding is something you will see all over the world. Recipes greatly vary even within a single country. The classic creamy dessert can be boiled or baked, served warm or cold, with no form or even molded.  In New York City, there is even a store that is solely dedicated to rice pudding: at Rice to Riches, you can choose from 19 daily made unusual flavors such as “The Edge Of Rum Raisin“, “Take Me To Tiramisu” and “Hazelnut Chocolate Bear Hug.” They are sold in 6 to 80-ounce containers.

Many rice pudding recipes use arborio rice, a short-grain rice that when cooked, stays firm and chewy due to starch content.  That said, for this toasted coconut rice pudding recipe, I prefer ordinary inexpensive long-grain rice such as Uncle Ben’s. If you want to learn more about the various kinds of rice out there, click here. In this recipe, I incorporate shredded coconut within the pudding itself to add texture, in addition to using sweet toasted coconut chips as a garnish to separate this pudding from its mushier and blander counterparts.  Garnished with a touch of lime zest, this delicious rice pudding recipe is not overly sweet and makes a great compliment to any meal.

toasted coconut rice pudding

About the Author

Andrea Potischman

I am a professionally trained NYC chef turned CA mom and food blogger. I post about real food, with doable ingredient lists that are family friendly.

One thought on "Toasted Coconut Rice Pudding"

  1. Avatar photo Renee Despins says:

    As “the Mom” I can say I still love rice pudding, especially Chef/Mom Andreas! I can’t wait to visit NYC and the “Rice to Riches” store – that sounds like heaven!

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