Hello again! I hope everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving holiday full of food, family, friends, and pie. I'm still feeling a little stuffed from all the holiday celebrations, especially with the onset of the Christmas holidays. I've been contemplating all kinds of Christmas goods to bake, for myself, for my friends, and of course, for the blog. Fortunately, these three groups tend to overlap, which makes my job a bit easier. If not, I don't think I'd ever make a dent in my baking list, although this tends to be the case in real life regardless. I've said before that I am usually too ambitious when it comes to planning what to bake over the holidays (in general, actually...), and create a baking wish list that is in no way possible to actually complete, no matter how hard I work at organizing my time. The things that do end up being made, however, usually end up being some of my favorite treats, and I'm always happy for whatever reason I chose to give them some priority.
I'm sure that with the first week of December practically behind us, and officially LESS than THREE WEEKS until Christmas, your baking plans are starting to take shape, if they haven't already been firmly decided upon. I've been busy thinking too, and am slowly but surely beginning to figure out some kind of loose, very rough plan of action. I don't care if it's still in the rough stages, the fact that it exists is good enough for me! I'm working on coming up with recipes that are great for giving and recipes that are simple and delicious for holiday parties. Eggnog rice pudding was one of the first things I thought of for a holiday party. Now, I'll be honest, this idea was a complete experiment because I wasn't exactly sure if this would be a recipe that I'd truly like. You see, I'm not exactly a huge fan of eggnog. I know, I'm weird. First, I don't like pumpkin pie, and now, I don't like eggnog?! What kind of person am I?!
A weird one, I guess. Oh well.
I remember the first time I ever tried eggnog. It was actually not too long ago, during my senior year of college, just around this time. Everyone at Columbia knows that the absolute best food to ever come out of the dining hall is during the annual holiday dinner. Columbia goes all out, preparing tons of appetizers, and so many delicious options for dinner. It's a very welcome change from the typical dining hall fare, and I'm almost certain that the majority of the student population plans their dinner schedules around the event (I certainly did, anyway...). In addition to the incredible dinner options, there were obviously tons of dessert options for the end of the meal, from enormous trays of cookies, real ice cream, puddings, chocolates, and more. Hot cider, hot chocolate, and eggnog were also always at the meal. My friends were raving about eggnog and how much they loved it, and when they found out that I had never had eggnog in my life, they couldn't believe it. They insisted that I try it, except that I didn't really end up liking it very much. I found it a little sweet for my taste, and there was just a flavor that I couldn't put my finger on that didn't drive me crazy.
Fast forward to a few days ago when I decided that I would give this eggnog business another shot. I knew that if it was such a popular holiday beverage that I could somehow make it work in a dessert that I would actually enjoy eating. This thought coincided with a random craving for some of my grandma's rice pudding, which then prompted me to combine the two ideas. Eggnog rice pudding sounded like it had the potential to be really great, and I was actually very pleased with the way the rice pudding turned out. The flavor of the eggnog definitely comes through; it's an unmistakeable eggnog dessert that combines perfectly with the creamy texture of the rice.
Rice pudding is a perfect dessert for the holidays. It's festive and seasonal, and is also so simple to make that it's a great option for holiday parties and other festivities. It only takes a little over a half hour to make, and since it's served chilled, can be easily made the night before. If you like your rice pudding warm, definitely feel free to enjoy this eggnog version on the warm side. I gave it a taste while it was still warm, and I think it's great either way. No matter how you choose to serve this rice pudding, just know that it's rich, creamy, and delicious! Enjoy!
Eggnog Rice Pudding
adapted from my grandma's recipe
5 cups water
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
2 cinnamon sticks
1 cup rice, rinsed
3 cups eggnog
1 cup milk
11 tablespoons sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
In a large saucepan, combine the water, butter, 1 cinnamon stick, and rice. Place the saucepan over medium-low heat, uncovered, and heat so that the water comes to a steady simmer. Simmer the rice until most of the water has evaporated, about 30 minutes. The rice shouldn't be dried out; it should be fluffy and still wet.
Once the rice is nearly finished cooking, heat together the eggnog, milk, sugar, vanilla extract, and remaining cinnamon stick in a small saucepan set over medium low heat. When the rice is ready, remove it from the heat, and add half of the eggnog mixture to it. Stir until well mixed, then add the remaining eggnog mixture, again stirring. The rice should be thick and creamy. Let the rice cool to room temperature, then store in the fridge until chilled. Serve with a sprinkling of cinnamon and nutmeg if desired. Enjoy!