Un panetto di pasta di mandorla. A brick of almond paste. This Sicilian compact brick-shaped almond paste gave me a chance to enjoy some desserts & drinks these past days that I never thought I would ever try. Diluted in water, this brick turns into almond milk, lactose free & cholesterol free but over everything, there is no taste or smell of milk derived from animals. It's one of my flaws. I cannot stand the smell & taste of cow's milk ever since I was a child. I remember how traumatic it was for me and my Mom at the age when I was obliged to drink milk because kids need calcium to grow well. Oh well. Now that I am an adult, my husband pushes me to eat a chunk of parmigiano reggiano (not to be confused with parmesan cheese produced anywhere else outside Italy) a day. That aged cheese is rich in calcium.
The instructions in the package of the almond paste says that it should be consumed within 3 days. A liter of it is not really so much but I consider it something special because I bought it from Sicily and I don't find it lying around in the shops around. There are the ready-to-drink bottled almond milk available everywhere but there is quite a notable difference between the Sicilian paste and the commercial bottled ones. The taste. The brick I diluted in water gave me a full taste of almonds that I only get a hint from the bottled ones.
So these past two days, I was cooped up in my kitchen "lab" concocting dishes using almond milk. I came up with three wonderful and delicious recipes that I would be sharing with you this week. Let's start with this one.
I love rice pudding. Technically, rice pudding is usually cooked with cow's milk but since I don't like it, I tried interpreting it in different ways using different kinds of liquids other than cow's milk. The past months, I came up with Sweet Rice With Raisins, Walnuts & Rum Sauce, Orange Rice With Cinnamon & Chocolate, Coffee Rice With Godet White Chocolate Liqueur & Dark Chocolate and Matcha Green Tea, Pistachios & Chocolate Rice.
I usually cook the rice with the liquid I am flavoring it with from the beginning, not after it's cooked. That way, the rice absorbs all the taste from its uncooked state, getting 100% of the flavor. Unless I am cooking rice pudding using leftover rice. I used dried cranberries for this pudding. I have a lot of dried fruits that I bought in a market of local products in Bracciano. I find them a tad too sweet so I soak them in water first before using.
Hope you enjoy this first recipe.
Almond Milk Rice Pudding with Cranberries
- 1 vanilla pod or vanilla extract
- 1 cup Arborio rice (or any similar rice)
- 2-1/2 cups unsweetened almond milk + extra if needed
- 1 tablespoon raw coconut sugar or more if needed
- 2 tablespoons almonds
- 1/4 cup dried cranberries
- 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon powder
- If using a vanilla pod, slice it in the middle throughout the whole length, then with the tip of the knife, scrape off the seeds inside.
- Over high heat, in a medium saucepan, combine the rice, almond milk, sugar and vanilla seeds and the pod. When it starts to boil, put down the fire to low.
- Stir the rice frequently to avoid burning or sticking to the bottom of the pan. Cook between 15 - 20 minutes or until the rice is cooked through. If the rice is starting to dry up, add more milk. It should have a creamy consistency.
- Meantime, over low heat, in a small saucepan, toast the almonds until they color. Chop coarsely then set aside.
- Some dried cranberries are mixed with too much sugar so to send away that excessive sweetness, soak them first in lukewarm water for about 10 minutes. Drain, squeeze out the excess water and chop. Set aside.
- When the rice is cooked, turn off the fire then take away the vanilla pod.
- Sprinkle with cinnamon then add the cranberries and almonds.