Coconut Take-Out Rice Pudding

July 3, 2013 at 6:09 pm 32 comments

Coconut Take-Out Rice Pudding

I made this coconut rice pudding planning to eat it cold.

I was warned about the heat before I moved east for the summer, but growing up in the Pacific Northwest left me helpless. I thought it’d be a little warmer than Seattle, where July is sunny with a breeze. I figured I should probably pack a tank top or two.

I found out summers in New York laugh at summers in Seattle.

It’s hot here, but then again, it’s hot everywhere. I’m not used to this kind of weather, where the heat firms up against your shoulders like wax, and the humidity settles heavy as wool. My apartment is a fourth floor walk-up, which means I always come home out of breath and embarrassingly sweaty. We haven’t figured out how to install the AC yet.

Coconut Take-Out Rice Pudding Above

Last weekend, I woke up before the heat crept in. I knew it wouldn’t last long, though, so I decided to cook while I could. I poked around my cabinets and found a can of coconut milk.

I’m surprised by how many people don’t like coconut. I’ve always loved the stuff—so smooth, sweet, and rich. I admire its versatility, delicious whether stirred into curry or scooped straight from the husk, and the smell of toasting coconut is one of my all-time favorites. I especially like it in desserts. Usually, when it’s not too overpowering, the coconut adds an elusive balminess. It shouldn’t taste like sunscreen, but add a special oomph.

I also found some white rice, leftovers from a Chinese take-out night, and that’s when I decided to transform the two into coconut rice pudding.

Coconut Take-Out Rice Pudding Tupperware

I like rice pudding because it’s so unfussy. This version is especially convenient. You use pre-cooked rice, which means you don’t need to make any beforehand, and you can throw in whatever you have. You can add any sized can of coconut milk, and make up the rest with skim milk (no heavy cream, half and half, or egg yolks needed!)

I whipped this batch up in thirty minutes flat. But I wasn’t fast enough. As the milk simmered and the rice grew fat with coconut and sugar, the temperature rose in that little kitchen. It was scorching by the time the pudding was thick enough to give a spoon trouble. I thought I’d let it chill completely and eat some after lunch, but ultimately I couldn’t resist a taste.

Wholesome, comforting, creamy, decadent. The coconut was mild—-maybe not even strong enough for a coconut fanatic-—but gorgeously buttery. It was sweet, but not sugary, and luxurious enough to make me feel guilty.

Coconut Take-Out Rice Pudding Close Up

In the end, I ate a piping hot bowl right then and there for breakfast. And that night, I tried a spoonful cold, and it was respectable. But this dessert comes alive when it’s warm. All the flavors breathe, the pudding melts into utter goodness, and your belly heats up like you might boil over with happiness, even if it couldn’t get hotter outside.

Maybe it’s time to install that AC.

[Happy 4th of July!]


[It’s the anniversary of my most popular post ever, my 4th of July Flag Cake from 2009.]

Coconut Milk

After all that talk about “convenience,” I actually ended up using a vanilla bean, because it was all I had. If you want to go that route, slice one lengthwise, scrape out the seeds, and simmer it with the pudding till the end. Otherwise, just stir in the extract.

This dessert is as adaptable as coconut itself. Mine was really simple, but you could add raisins, a splash of rum, coconut flakes, any number of spices, etc…

Coconut Take-Out Rice Pudding
Adapted from Gourmet
Makes 4 generous servings

1 1/2 to 2 1/2 cups cold unsalted cooked rice
Enough coconut milk and skim milk to make 3 1/2 cups liquid (I used a 14 oz can of coconut milk)
1/3 cup sugar
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp vanilla extract

Simmer the rice, coconut milk, skim milk, sugar, and salt in a medium saucepan over medium-low heat, stirring often, until the pudding is thick (for me, this took 30 minutes.) Stir in the vanilla extract, and any other mix ins.

Entry filed under: Other Treats. Tags: , , , , , , , .

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32 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Diane @ Vintage Zest  |  July 3, 2013 at 6:26 pm

    I thought I spied some vanilla beans in the close-up picture!

    I have a love-lust relationship with rice pudding. In March, when I was in NYC for about 20 hours for a work-related function, I made it a point to go to Rice to Riches and sample nearly every flavor.

    Your recipe will definitely be on the top of my to-do list, since I love everything coconut. I just posted a recipe on coconut “ice cream,” is super easy if you remember to freeze the canister. ( I can’t wait to try your rice pudding along with some sliced mango! Thanks!

  • 2. Kat Bleyl  |  July 3, 2013 at 6:46 pm

    I love coconut and I love rice pudding. This looks perfect! I will definitely have to try it out. :) Thank you!

  • 3. caitsfoodtherapy  |  July 3, 2013 at 7:05 pm

    Looks delicious! I love rice pudding :@) never had it with coconut, vanilla bean added too must be so good!

  • 4. Warm Vanilla Sugar (@wvanillasugar)  |  July 3, 2013 at 7:19 pm

    This rice pudding sounds like such a treat! Yum!

  • 5. kellybakes  |  July 4, 2013 at 12:07 pm

    What a lovely, simple-to-make treat! I grew up in New England, so I’m used to the humid, gross summer heat, but we always had the AC on… and that was also before I developed a baking addiction. Now that I’m on my own (and pay the electric bill), I try not to keep the AC going which means keeping the oven off too.

  • 6. jenna  |  July 5, 2013 at 2:32 pm

    I live in the city and I couldn’t get past the part about the 4th floor walk up and no a.c. If you have an a.c. and need it installed, ask your super. If you don’t have a super, go to the building next door and ask their super. $20 should cover it. If you don’t have an a.c., find a local hardware store. I’ve used local mom and pops stores. If they sell a.c.’s then they likely will install it for you as well for a small extra fee. It is too hot!!!!!!!!!

  • 7. catherinerose34  |  July 6, 2013 at 5:10 pm

    Reblogged this on The Broke Persons Guide to College Cooking and commented:

  • 8. Marta  |  July 8, 2013 at 11:00 am

    Hi Elissa! Very nice to see you back! Coconut rice pudding sounds perfect, warm or cold :)
    This year we started out with a very dull weather for summer, but now it’s turned around and I think this Lisbon summer would laugh at NYC summer! :O

  • 9. Connie  |  July 10, 2013 at 3:17 am

    Your prose is always so consistently gorgeous. So glad you are posting again and I look forward to future posts!

  • 10. michaelawanders  |  July 14, 2013 at 8:39 pm

    I too am obsessed with all things coconut. This looks divine!

  • 11. stefferson  |  July 15, 2013 at 6:50 pm

    you’re such an incredible writer. started following you while i was living in seattle a few summers back – keep up the great work. :)

  • 12. Dan  |  July 23, 2013 at 11:44 am

    You phrased it perfectly. Summers in New York definitely laugh at summers in Seattle (although I’d imagine summers in Texas scoff at both). Good thing your handy boyfriend figured out the AC installation, huh?
    As a side note, it really is amazing what you can do with Chinese take-out leftovers…

  • 13. kelapa murni  |  September 19, 2013 at 10:51 pm

    Foods made from coconut has always been my favorite. Either in the form of cakes or drinks. It looks delicious recipes you made​​, I would like to try it at home

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    Now this I have to make! Thank you for sharing! :)

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    Definitely have to try this!!

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  • […] July 3, 2013 at 6:09 pm […]


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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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