This week, we'll submit our best recipes for Rice Pudding, and then you'll vote on which you like better. If you'd like to add your favorite rice pudding recipes to the site over the coming week, that would be great -- we'll still post Editors' Picks!
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This recipe calls for the seeds from half a vanilla bean -- I didn't want the vanilla to be too strong, considering all the other sweet flavors.
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The risotto starts with brown butter. It's best to use a nice, heavy saucepan for this to guard against burning. I used my favorite of Amanda's Le Creusets.
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"Brown butter" actually starts off with sort of orangey or rust-colored specks, which then darken to a nut brown.
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To make the caramel, you stir the sugar right into the brown butter. It will clump up until the sugar starts to melt, but don't let this deter you!
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This is perhaps the most alarming stage, when you'll probably think you've ruined everything: the butter and sugar start to separate, making an oily, clumpy mess. Fear not! Keep whisking, and all will be well.
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Once the sugar has fully melted, you'll get a nice, smooth caramel, which will darken even further. It's up to you how far to take it, but be careful not to let it burn.
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Here, I'm showing Amanda how what appeared to be a disaster just a minute ago is now looking pretty darn good.
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Whisking in the creme fraiche and some of the milk stops the caramel from cooking any further.
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Be careful adding the milk, as the mixture will bubble up initially. Molten sugar is serious business.
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Once you've whisked in all of the milk, and the mixture is smooth, in goes the arborio.
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It's a good idea to return to your wooden spoon at this stage -- better for making sure nothing sticks to the bottom of the pot.
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The mixture simmers gently and thickens as the rice cooks.
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The pudding may get a funny, puffy-looking skin from time to time as it simmers away. Don't worry: you can just stir it right back into the pudding and be on your merry way.
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A dollop of creme fraiche makes it look elegant and cuts the sweetness with a bit of tang.
Bustling about -- felt strange not to be cooking with Merrill.
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Mirror, mirror on the wall, who's the fairest egg of all?
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I love how the light reflected on the stream of milk.
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And then how this stream of milk twisted like licorice. But back to the recipe... here, I poured milk into the rice, raw sugar, lemon zest and cinnamon.
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As the mixture heats, it begins foaming on the edge.
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My cheat sheet.
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The rice was almost done -- as you can see the mixture is a little soupy and the rice grains haven't broken down.
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After stirring in the almond extract, I poured the rice pudding into a copper pan that I planned to serve it in.
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A-ha! Merrill and I couldn't cook separately for long! She stepped in to slowly add sugar and lemon juice while I whisked the egg whites -- beating by hand is a work-out. Most normal people like to do it with a hand blender or mixer.
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You can see the meringue getting shiny here.
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Merrill tests it.
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I plopped it on top of the pudding, then spread it out evenly-ish before broiling.
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This is what happens when you start chatting while your rice pudding is under the broiler. No crying over burnt meringue -- I just scraped it off and made some more.
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This time I watched it like a hawk.
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There you go -- toasted meringue.
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Here you can see the two layers -- pudding topped with meringue!
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