There are many versions of Arroz con Leche (Spiced Rice Pudding) but this Dominican recipe makes for a creamy texture and heavenly mix of spices that stands out above the crowd.
Arroz con Leche se quiere casar / Con una viudita de la capital / Que sepa tejer, que sepa bordar / Que ponga la aguja en el mismo lugar.
- Children rhyme
Dominican-style Arroz con Leche is one of the most popular and simple-to-make desserts in the Dominican Republic. To the naked eye, it could look like any same old rice pudding, but once you taste it you can't fail to notice the touch of spices that make our Arroz con Dulce different, in a good way.
Arroz con Leche throughout the world
Arroz con Leche --Rice Pudding in English-- is truly a nearly-universal dish. It is made in many ways and with varying ingredients throughout the world. This Arroz con Leche recipe is just one of the many Hispanic rice pudding recipes.
Different countries may use different combinations of ingredients, but the basis will be rice, milk, sugar, and some type of spices.
In the Dominican Republic, however, it is also known as Arroz con Dulce, to differentiate it from a savory rice pudding for breakfast that is known as Arroz con Leche Amargo (it's not bitter, "amargo" also means unsweetened in Spanish). Bear in mind that this is an acquired taste, one that I never acquired myself.
In Denmark, a country where I have spent a lot of time, Rice Pudding is a Christmas tradition, and it's called Risalamande. It's prepared with cream, instead of milk, and served as part of the traditional Christmas' Eve dinner.
About our recipe
This is my favorite combination for Arroz con Leche (or Arroz con Dulce), you may adapt it to your own personal taste, and I give suggestions for doing that in the recipe notes.
My mother used to make the sugarless version often. I have to admit I hated it then, and I still do. If you want to try it, though, there are also instructions in the notes for it.
Arroz con Leche (Spiced Rice Pudding)
- 1 cup of long-grain rice
- 6 cloves
- 4 cinnamon sticks
- 6 cups of water , divided
- 1 teaspoon of salt
- 3 cups of evaporated milk
- 1 cup of sugar
- 1/4 cup of raisins
- 2 tablespoons of butter
- 1/8 teaspoon of ground nutmeg
- Cherries for decoration (optional)
- Soak the rice, cloves and cinnamon sticks in 2 cups of water and let sit for a couple of hours. This step is optional, and it's my own method for cooking the rice.
- When the 2 hours have passed, pour the remaining 4 cups of water into a medium (1 gal [4 lt]) iron o cast aluminum pot. Add in the rice (including the water in which it was soaking, cinnamon and cloves). Add the salt.
- Cook over medium temperature and stir regularly to avoid sticking. When the rice is tender (about 20 mins) add milk and sugar. When it breaks a boil again add the raisins. Cook over low heat until the mixture reaches a pudding-like consistency.
- Remove from the heat. Remove the cloves and cinnamon sticks. Add the butter and mix well. Cover and let it cool down to room temperature.
- Stir to incorporate the crust that forms during cooling.
- Serve in small bowls and sprinkle with the nutmeg. Decorate with the cherries.