Creamy Coconut Rice Pudding – vegan // slow cooker


It’s nearly Christmas! How’s your December going so far? I know I say every year how much I enjoy the festive season but I really do. Twinkling fairy lights and the smell of cinnamon wafting through the air makes me feels so warm and cosy and giddy with excitement! Or is that just the mulled wine? Mmm, mulled wine. The Scandi-chic decorations are up and The Box of Delights has been watched. The daily distribution of advent calendar chocolates is systematically arranged by our seven year old. A sticky-sweet smelling Yankee Candle is almost permanently lit and our new addition to the family – yes that’s right guys we have a puppy, a deliciously plump chihuahua – even has his own elf hat. He will learn to love it!

 
The weather here in the UK has turned quite dramatically cold over the last few days – we even had snow over the weekend! I KNOW! Cue an overexcited seven year old and a nostalgic Mum. I’m sure it snowed every December back in the 1980s, right? Right?! This early flurry probably means we won’t get any over the actual Christmas period, but never mind – snowy London is the prettiest thing. Until it turns to smoggy grey sleet of course, as was the case on Monday morning. I was pretty frozen when I got home from the school run, and suddenly craved a bowl of something hot and sweet to warm me up! Which brings me to this glorious snowy-white pudding which I first tried a few months ago at a Harvester – one of many food chains that has definitely upped its vegan game this year.  I couldn’t wait to replicate it at home; rice pudding made with coconut milk is such a simple idea but feels like a really decadent treat – it’s so incredibly rich and creamy, and the raspberry sauce (Harvester used raspberries – any berries are fab, I’ve used blueberries here) is the perfect tart pairing. I really love it, especially since discovering it’s the simplest thing ever to make at home, even more so if you have a slow cooker.

This is absolutely the kind of pudding you want to make right now when you’re busy with the pre-Christmas chaos; it is the definition of simple, soul-hugging comfort food. You literally put everything in the slow cooker, stir, switch it on and leave it for a few hours. Er, that’s it. I confess I’ve never had any luck with rice puddings in the past. The oven baked ones always end up a bit raw and crunchy on the edges, and the stovetop ones are too much of a faff. I definitely can’t pretend I enjoy stirring a pan of rice for half an hour (although if you don’t have a slow cooker, then obviously you can do just that). Trust me, slow cooker rice pudding is life changing. I can’t see why this method wouldn’t work for risotto too… *scribbles on to-do list*

This doesn’t make a huge amount, but as it’s so rich you really don’t need a big bowl. (Or maybe you do – I won’t judge!) I have dainty little bowls I like to use for these kind of desserts – something the size of a ramekin would be perfect.

Serves 4-6.

100g arborio rice (risotto rice), rinsed
50g caster sugar
1 x 400ml tin coconut milk (full fat only – and make sure the actual coconut content is at least 60%)
300ml non-dairy milk (I always use oat milk)

For the topping:
Use a handful of fresh berries per person, or make a sauce (compote if you’re being fancy):
150g berries (raspberries, cherries or blueberries are best – although I reckon chopped mango and a spritz of lime would be amazing, too)
3 tbsp caster sugar
2 tbsp water
1 tbsp lemon juice

Place everything in a little saucepan and stir. Simmer for just a few minutes, stirring frequently until the fruit has mostly broken down and it looks saucy (you know what I mean by that). Allow it to stand for a bit before using – it will thicken as it cools. You can make this well in advance, it’s fine in the fridge for a few days.


If you doubt your slow-cooker’s non-stick capabilities, oil the insert first (I don’t bother with mine). Rinse the rice and place it in the slow cooker with everything else. Give it all a stir, put the lid on and switch to high. Cook for 3-4 hours. It should look a bit like the picture above right; the coconut oil will have separated a bit and slightly caramelised the sugar. (Note: If you’re making this in a saucepan on the hob, you’ll probably need to stir-cook-stir for about 30 minutes or until the rice is soft. You will probably need to add quite a bit more milk as required – about 200-300ml.)


Give it a stir and carefully check if the rice is cooked. I find it’s cooked within three hours, but it can definitely survive four. It is best to keep it hot until you’re ready to eat it. It’s really important not to leave rice at room temperature for long – if you’re making this well in advance, cool it as quickly as possible and keep it in the fridge before reheating.
Serve in bowls (add a splash of cold milk if necessary to help cool it and make the consistency perfectly creamy) and add the fruit topping.

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