My Attempt at Coconut Arroz con Leche

The recipe for rice pudding varies throughout the world, and in the East one of its common ingredients is coconut milk.   The only time I’d ever had it was when I went to International Market in Nashville with the Habitat Board last year, but today was the first time I attempted making it.  It’s not “authentic” by any means; I just felt like making arroz con leche out of some leftover white rice we had, and since we had no evaporated milk (I make my arroz con leche with milk, evaporated milk, and condensed milk), I replaced it with some Goya coconut milk I found in the pantry.  I followed my original recipe, the only alteration being the coconut milk, a dash of nutmeg, and the addition of the piece of lemon peel and cinnamon sticks since they didn’t get to cook with the rice.  It came out well.  The coconut gives it a different kind of sweetness, so I probably could have eased up on the sugar, and the nutmeg gives it that extra kick of spice.  I saw Alton Brown making an Indian-inspired rice pudding with coconut milk, and he added cardamon, currants, and pistachios to his.  I didn’t have cardamon, so I used nutmeg instead, and I can’t bring myself to use anything like raisins in rice pudding.  It’s often listed as optional in recipes but I NEVER had it with raisins as a kid so to me it seems blasphemous and inauthentic.   This simple substitution tasted great, but I’ll probably stick to making it the good old fashioned Cuban way. : )

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