Vanilla Bean Jasmine Rice Pudding

February 8, 2010 at 10:18 pm 64 comments


Nobody understands it, but for some inexplicable reason I like to work in the dark.

Well, not complete darkness. But as long as there’s a bit of gold left in the sky, I flick the light switches off before preheating the oven or leaving out the butter. I watch the lightbulb gradually dim until all that’s left is the little red glow of the filament, like the scarlet flicker of a snake’s tongue, until that too goes out in a snap. Then I get to work.

I throw open all of the curtains. Despite the chrome-colored damper of winter in Seattle, there’s a natural light that filters through the glass and brightens the kitchen in a way that artificial light cannot. I like the shadows that fall from the measuring cups on the counters. I like the burnt-edged way my photographs come out, and despite my father’s eye rolls and my friends’ confusion, I like the way I feel at home.


Some days I want to tackle big projects, like French pastries and gourmet spice profiles. I feel ambitious, and I turn on the lights to help me keep focused.

But sometimes I’m having one of those afternoons where I want my mind to de-clutter. I had one of those last week. I wore my oversized hunter green sweater and soft brown slippers to school, calling it “the macaroni and cheese of clothing.” In a word, it’s comfort. That day, I wanted to eat something just as simple and comforting as a day in sweatpants or a kitchen bathed in vanilla-sugar light.

It’s always hard to decide what to make. I usually pick based on what I feel like baking, since that’s where I derive most of my joy. But that day, I focused on what I felt like eating. I couldn’t think of anything that satisfied my craving, though, so I heated water to make myself a cup of jasmine green tea instead. That’s when it came to me.

When I stumbled upon rice pudding, I felt my heels lift off the floor a little, and then I could think about nothing else. Rice pudding is my very favorite comfort food – creamy, soft, and studded with a million little vanilla bean seeds.



It’s funny. I don’t like to waste money or ingredients, so I have a “vanilla scale” in order to save on both. I have two brands of vanilla extract – one cheap and one quality – and two brands of vanilla beans – one cheap and one quality.

I use the cheap vanilla extract for experiments and where it “doesn’t matter,” in muffins and scones. I save the good vanilla beans for dishes where they’ll shine, in my opinion where they belong: ice cream, custards, and really good rice pudding.

I didn’t even blink before deciding to use one of my most precious vanilla beans for this rice pudding. As I began to cook the rice, I had a sudden stroke of inspiration. I quickly lit another burner on the stove, poured in the milk, and added three of my family’s favorite jasmine green tea bags.

I didn’t know how it would turn out. I didn’t even consider that it might be awful and ruin my vanilla bean. I just inhaled the fragrant steam coming up from the jasmine milk, and the powerful aroma of the vanilla bean seeds speckled on my fingers. I knew I wasn’t making a mistake.


The pudding came together quickly. I felt more and more serene with every stir of the wooden spoon. The kitchen was warm, and my heart felt full. I held a warm bowl of rice pudding and curled up in the rocking chair in our living room, the one by the huge window that stretches from floor to ceiling. I took the first spoonful of rice pudding.

Oh, oh, oh, the jasmine was so not a mistake!

I didn’t taste it at first, just the beautiful woody creaminess of the vanilla. But then there it was, quietly, floral notes that crept up like crocuses in spring. The slight flowery bitterness of the jasmine green tea, complimented perfectly by the vanilla… I turned off my cell phone and put away my iPod. Then I got myself another bowl of rice pudding and snuggled into the chair until the very last ray of light went out in a snap.



This rice pudding would also be delicious without the tea, and maybe even without the vanilla bean (using 1-2 teaspoons of vanilla extract instead.) The rice pudding has a wonderful texture to it. Alternatively, I think you could use another type of tea, but you’ll have to figure out exactly how much to use and how long to infuse, depending on how strong it is.

After cooking, the rice pudding should be kept chilled in the refrigerator. It does firm up after leaving the stove, so don’t let it overcook! The jasmine also seemed stronger when the pudding was cold. It was good straight out of the tupperware, but I liked it best warm. I’d put some into a bowl and microwave it for about thirty seconds, and for me it was perfect.

Vanilla Bean Jasmine Rice Pudding
Adapted from Molly Wizenberg, via Bon Appetit
Makes 6-8 servings

1 1/2 cups water
3/4 cup basmati rice (use any short grain rice)
1/4 teaspoon salt
3 cups whole milk
3 bags of Jasmine Green Tea
1 cup heavy whipping cream (I used half and half because it was on hand, still rich and creamy)
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 vanilla bean, split lengthwise, or 1-2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Bring 1 1/2 cups water, rice, and salt to simmer in heavy large saucepan over medium-high heat. Reduce heat to low; cover. Simmer until water is absorbed, about 10 minutes. In the meantime, pour the milk into a small saucepan. Submerge the teabags in the milk, keeping the paper tags out of the liquid and away from the stove burner. Bring to a simmer, then remove from the heat and let sit uncovered until the rice is cooked (about 10 minutes.)

Add tea-infused milk, cream, and sugar to the rice. Scrape in seeds from vanilla bean; add bean. Increase heat to medium; cook uncovered until rice is tender and mixture thickens slightly to a soft, creamy texture, stirring occasionally, about 35 minutes.

Remove pudding from heat and discard vanilla bean. Divide pudding evenly among small bowls. Serve warm or press plastic wrap directly onto surface of each pudding and chill thoroughly.

Printer-Friendly Version – Vanilla Bean Jasmine Rice Pudding

Entry filed under: Breakfast/Brunch, Other Treats. Tags: , , , , , , , , , .

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64 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Lakshmi  |  February 9, 2010 at 12:02 am

    Loved this post, you do have a way of getting straight to your readers heart. Btw strange coincidence, but I just finished writing a post for. Rice pudding on my blog, and stepped over to check your blog, and what do I find, rice pudding again. :-) of course mine is a slightly different version. I’d surely be trying out your version one of these days

  • 2. Basht  |  February 9, 2010 at 12:50 am

    Sounds awesome, i think i shall have to make it next weekend as coming up with food options that i can share with my geekling at 1am is getting harder and harder.

  • 3. musketnuss  |  February 9, 2010 at 2:50 am

    I would have never thought about making rice pudding – but then I read your post and your writing style is so awesome and totally conveys the taste of your perfect looking rice pudding… And now I crave for Vanilla Bean Jasmine Rice Pudding! Thanks for sharing!

  • 4. Sis  |  February 9, 2010 at 5:19 am

    This sounds wonderful, and I’ll be coming back to it soon to make. But I also wanted to compliment you about the photos. Excellent use of light, depth of field, and I too love the “burnt-edge” vignettes. The 100mm2.8 lens I have adds those beautifully in natural lighting.

    Keep it up!

  • 5. Elizabeth  |  February 9, 2010 at 5:50 am

    I love how your write, its so smooth and natural. This looks amazing and I love those days when you just relax. They are always needed.

  • 6. Liz  |  February 9, 2010 at 6:40 am

    Lovely idea :) and a very sweet post!

  • 7. Astrid  |  February 9, 2010 at 7:16 am

    Yum! That looks delicious. I love Jasmine green tea. There is something about the smell of jasmine that just makes me smile and relax at the same time. It is honestly hard to imagine how amazing that rice pudding is. Enjoy every last bite of it with your friends and family!

  • 8. nutmegnanny  |  February 9, 2010 at 8:00 am

    Wow this rice pudding looks amazing! I have always wanted to make rice pudding and I’m not quite sure why I haven’t. I think after seeing these delicious photos I might just have to do it :)

  • 9. Sophie  |  February 9, 2010 at 8:33 am

    That looks delicious! I bet it was taste good with lavender or violets as well. I adore the flowery notes, they are so subtle and delicate. You are a beautiful writer, captured it perfectly!

  • 10. ~~Rhonda  |  February 9, 2010 at 9:45 am

    I love rice pudding but haven’t made it in ages. My DDIL gave me some beautiful vanilla beans for Christmas and I plan to use them for this recipe. It’s printed and ready to go! Thanks for sharing the recipe and the wonderful photos! ~~Rhonda :)

  • 11. Laura  |  February 9, 2010 at 11:03 am

    With all the snowy weather, there can be nothing more comforting than Rice Pudding. Vanilla is my favorite flavor and vanilla beans are simply beautiful so I am so pleased to see this and can’t wait to give it a try!

  • 12. EmLue  |  February 9, 2010 at 12:44 pm

    I feel a bit bad always asking my parents to pick up ingredients (I’d get them myself, but no license.) so I think I’ll stick to the vanilla extract. Any idea on how much extract you would use?

    • 13. Elissa  |  February 9, 2010 at 2:08 pm

      EmLue – Awesome to see another teen baker! :) Google says that half a vanilla bean is equal to about 1-2 teaspoons of extract. You could try going by taste too.

  • 14. Jenn  |  February 9, 2010 at 3:47 pm

    One of my friends introduced me to your blog a couple week ago to show me the beautiful floral cupcakes that you did. I have found myself checking your blog daily to see if you’ve updated, I love reading your posts and I am almost jealous of your willingness to experiment… I am very much so a stick to the recipe kind of person most of the time. Anyways, I just wanted to let you know I admire your writing, photographs and experimental recipes.

  • 15. megan  |  February 9, 2010 at 4:24 pm

    wow, this was a beautiful post. your writing, especially in the first paragraph was gorgeous and inspiring. it might help that i’m listening to city and colour simultaneously, but regardless, this looks delicious and i’m jealous of your creativity both in your words and in your food.

  • 16. muchadoaboutlisa  |  February 9, 2010 at 5:44 pm

    Hi! Love the blog. I’m from Seattle too! (But currently teaching English in South Korea for a year). I love baking, but it’s difficult to get very many ingredients here…which limits what I can make. Plus, nobody has ovens…so I’m stuck with my little toaster oven. Anyway, I wanted to know how much vanilla extract to use (since there’s not a chance I’d be able to get vanilla beans here). And will regular white short-grain rice (e.g. sticky rice) work?

    • 17. Elissa  |  February 9, 2010 at 9:21 pm

      Lisa – I think 1-2 teaspoons of extract should do it, or you can just do it to taste. Also, I think any regular white short grain rice will work. :)

  • 18. fulltimefoodie  |  February 9, 2010 at 5:46 pm

    I’m the same way – the kitchen is my place to forget about the rest of the world, usually in the evening because that is when life as a student allows me to. I also usually bake what I want to bake, not necessarily what I want to eat and I don’t usually repeat recipes unless they are out of this world amazing. And anything with Jasmine green tea has to be good – it’s my favorite. Oh, and rice pudding is the best kind of pudding, although I don’t mind an old-fashioned chocolate pudding.

  • 19. cupcakeswin=]  |  February 10, 2010 at 8:09 am

    i’ve never had rice pudding…

    does it taste good?

  • 20. Eliana  |  February 10, 2010 at 8:19 am

    There is a certain comfort that comes out of natural light that would go perfect with this pudding.

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  • 23. Natalie  |  February 10, 2010 at 1:41 pm

    Wow this rice pudding looks so good, I’ve always wanted to try making rice pudding, yours looks delicious! :)

  • 24. Baking Monster  |  February 10, 2010 at 1:55 pm

    I know those days and this does sound perfect for a day like that. I think I might try this with chai tea, thanks for the great idea.

  • 25. Jennifer  |  February 10, 2010 at 2:08 pm

    I am drooling over this! the vanilla bean is so lovely!

  • 26. Jess  |  February 10, 2010 at 4:35 pm

    This looks lovely – I love Stassen’s jasmine green tea. Can’t wait to try this.

  • 27. gratinee  |  February 10, 2010 at 6:21 pm

    I love, love, love rice pudding. I have been known to eat it for breakfast. The vanilla bean makes it extra scrumptious.

  • 28. May  |  February 10, 2010 at 7:16 pm

    Ohh…i can’t wait to try this, it sounds amazing!

    I made this recipe for Orange/Rum Rice Pudding a while back and it was great too:

    There’s something so comforting about a bowl of rice pudding!

  • 29. Warm Vanilla Sugar  |  February 10, 2010 at 10:19 pm

    I just made this and it was amazing! Thanks for sharing, your recipes are awesome :)

  • 30. Jenny  |  February 11, 2010 at 8:02 am

    Bravo! I am so hungry now.

  • 31. Katie  |  February 11, 2010 at 9:34 am

    I adore rice pudding but I’ve not had it for ages. Your description and photos have got me longing for some now. So thick and creamy mmm. I like it cold too when you can cut it into squares. Its also delicious when made with coconut milk

  • 32. Paige at The Spice House  |  February 11, 2010 at 10:37 am

    I make tea-flavored rice pudding too, but I’ve never tried Jasmine Green tea. I usually use either Republic of Tea Wild Blueberry or Octavia Wintermint. The Jasmine/vanilla combo sounds great, though. What kind of vanilla beans are your “quality” beans? I’d probably try Tahitian with Jasmine, to really bring out the floral notes.

    • 33. Elissa  |  February 11, 2010 at 6:08 pm

      Paige – I really like Nielsen-Massey Vanilla, so their extract is my “good extract” and their Madagascar Bourbon vanilla beans are my “good beans.” The Tahitian sounds really lovely, wish I had some! :(

  • 34. Alex  |  February 11, 2010 at 5:23 pm

    I can almost smell it. I never have jasmine green tea in the house but I might have to get some!

  • 35. Chris  |  February 11, 2010 at 10:49 pm

    You don’t cook like you’re a teen and you sure don’t write like a teen. I don’t know what you want to do with your life but you sure can write the pants off this blog.

    keep it up kiddo….you have a knack!

  • 36. Ana  |  February 12, 2010 at 4:54 am

    Looks delicious!

  • 37. Grace  |  February 12, 2010 at 8:20 am

    I just wanted to let you know, I’m a high school senior who reads your blog religiously, and I think you are so skilled at all of your passions: writing, photography, AND cooking! I, too, enjoy these, and I hope to one day be ambitious and talented as you in all three. ;) This post was terrific–I love rice pudding, and can’t wait to try making it with your twist!

  • 38. Hillary  |  February 12, 2010 at 6:27 pm

    Tea bag and full spoon pictures are absolutely incredible. Wish I had your talent, missy.

    – The Nutrition Nut [don’t miss my GIVEAWAY]

  • 39. Jen @ My Kitchen Addiction  |  February 13, 2010 at 9:30 pm

    It has been a long time since I have made rice pudding. This sounds very satisfying and comforting right now. I’m putting it on my must-make list!

  • 40. Night Owl Chef  |  February 14, 2010 at 8:58 am

    Fantastic, fantastic, fantastic! You are so cool, girl! I grew up trying to like rice pudding because it’s my mom’s favorite “comfort food dessert”, but never topped my list. This recipe, however, is making me DROOL…. Thanks for sharing it!

    P.S. I was supposed to be in Seattle this weekend on vacation, but the NE snowstorm cancelled my flight (and trip!). :-( I love rain, and fog, and late afternoon light … your post reminded me of just why I need to discover Seattle; sometimes what people typically don’t like (rain, low light) can be beautiful, just as you say.

  • 41. Cinnamon Girl  |  February 14, 2010 at 2:02 pm

    I’m getting ready to make this right now. There’s nothing more comforting than rice pudding…brings back memories of childhood.

    I’m a new “follower”… & I have to say…I absolutely love your blog. Thanks for sharing with us!

  • 42. Christy Denney  |  February 14, 2010 at 2:18 pm

    Love your blog. You really know what you are doing here!! In an answer to your question, when I make the sugar cookies I use big cutout shapes so I’m not sure how many cookie sized cookies it makes. I guess I will have to try it out. My batch made 20 big heart cookies.

  • 43. Cami  |  February 15, 2010 at 6:27 pm

    I just wanted to let you know that your blog is amazing and it inspired me to not only start baking more (I love food, especially deserts and candy but I don’t quite have enough patience for recipes, ha!) but you were one of the reasons I started my own blog. I think you have a really unique voice and your blog is beautiful. (:

  • 44. Laura  |  February 15, 2010 at 11:13 pm

    You have a wonderful writing style and are very talented. Your photographs are beautiful. Thank you for sharing I look forward to reading more.

  • 45. cookeaze  |  February 16, 2010 at 9:47 am

    Sounds delicious…we are vanilla fans too..must try this.Thanks a ton for sharing.

  • 46. Columbus Foodie » Blog Archive » Jasmine (Tea) Rice Pudding  |  February 19, 2010 at 4:58 pm

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  • 47. Steph Jay  |  February 23, 2010 at 7:44 pm

    Okay, I admit I’m not usually a fan of rice pudding but please, excuse me while I drool. I love your descriptions, you’re an amazing cook, baker, writer AND photographer. I’m so envious :)

  • 48. Charles  |  February 26, 2010 at 11:53 am

    I hear ya on the cheap and quality version of ingredients. I have my everyday olive oil, and then the “good stuff.” That said, you can make your own vanilla extract by seeping some of your vanilla beans in alcohol for a few months. It makes a really good and strong vanilla that will last you forever. (I have a recipe on my blog for it).

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  • 50. paul  |  April 10, 2010 at 1:35 pm

    The rice that you mention is long grain rice.To be defined as short the length cant be more than 2x the width.Risotta is the real king of rice pudding.If you learn to “throw” the rice out of the pan into the air and catch it you will make the best rp in the world.I admit I made a few spectacular messes til I got it down pat.I had to get the ladder only once to clean the ceiling but hey,thats what happens when guys cook.

  • 51. Bianca  |  June 10, 2010 at 1:29 am

    When I first read this, a while ago, I went straight to the kitchen and made the most awesome vanilla bean rice pudding ever. But I forgot to thank you. And now, this morning, I decided to get some breakfast and made this again…I dare say it was even better than last time (although I didn’t do anything different). Yummy, yummy, yummy, I like it with a teaspoon (or more) of cherry compote on top…yum! However, I couldn’t feel the jasmine enough…almost not at all, maybe because I always eat it warm, or maybe because it was black jasmine tea? Ah well, never-mind, just wanted to say thank you fro this glorious recipe ;)

  • 52. Bianca  |  June 10, 2010 at 1:34 am

    Oh wait, I felt the jasmine (I was eating the pudding as I was commenting). I did! I did! It’s there, it’s amazingly nice. Too bad it was the last spoonful :))

  • 53. izmir escort  |  December 29, 2010 at 6:12 pm

    I throw open all of the curtains. Despite the chrome-colored damper of winter in Seattle, there’s a natural light that filters through the glass and brightens the kitchen in a way that artificial light cannot. I like the shadows that fall from the measuring cups on the counters. I like the burnt-edged way my photographs come out, and despite my father’s eye rolls and my friends’ confusion, I like the way I feel at home.


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Elissa Bernstein

I'm Elissa: a 17 (now 21) year old baker in Seattle Boston juggling creative nonfiction workshops, subway maps, and my passions for writing, baking, and photography. Photo above © Michelle Moore

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