Chrysta 10 min. 15 min.

When you’re a guest, you can’t unleash criticisms about your host’s home.  And, when you’re a guest chef in someone else’s restaurant, you can’t criticize their products.

Recently I worked with a client to manage their kitchen operations, specifically the dessert station, for a 400 guest catering event.  When I arrived to the kitchen, almost all of their desserts has been produced.  As any chef would, I went through and tasted 1 sample of each dessert to determine which additional desserts I would make to compliment the other desserts.   There were brownies, cookies, and cakes.  And, each of these desserts were fine.  Upon a second glance, I noted that there was another remaining dessert: individual rice pudding cups.

I didn’t grow up eating rice pudding, and can only remember every having it twice in my life.  Once when I learned how to make the dish, and a second time last year at a new downtown Los Angeles restaurant that served an amazing rice pudding with bitter caramel.  This 3rd tasting of rice pudding was one of the worst things I’ve ever had.  I’m pretty sure the recipe was cooked rice, 2% milk, and a pinch of sugar stirred together.  This isn’t the recipe for a great rice pudding.

To me, what makes a rice pudding great is the toothiness of the rice; the creaminess of the cooked milk and cream; and the sweetness that comes from sugar and the vanilla.

I offered to make a new batch of rice pudding for my client, but there wasn’t much time, and they were happy with their product.  So, I let the issue go.  But for the last week, I’ve been craving the kind of rice pudding that I love.  Maybe with a sweet-tart accompaniment of a pomegranate molasses, which has a kind of caramel-ly note to it as well.

My craving was satiated when I made this incredible dessert.  This recipe couldn’t be easier, and yet, the payoff is well worth the time!

Recipe:  Arborio Rice Pudding with Pomegranate Molasses

This recipe makes four 1-cup servings 


  • 1/2 cup Arborio rice
  • 3 cups milk
  • 1 cup of heavy cream
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste or vanilla extract
  • 2 tbsp brown sugar
  • Optional:  add 1 drop of almond extract (less than 1/8 tsp.) 


1.)  In a medium heavy-bottomed saucepot, place rice, milk, sugar, and butter; stir.  Bring to a boil, stirring consistently to ensure the rice doesn’t stick to the bottom of the pot.  Boil for 4 minutes, then reduce the heat to low. 

2.) After reducing the heat to low, you will stir consistently for 20-30 minutes until the rice has absorbed the milk and cream and you can start to see the rice in the top of the pot.  (I stirred every 3 minutes).  Cook until rice is plump and cream

3.) Add 2 tbsp of brown sugar. Stir.

4. Remove pudding from heat and add vanilla.

4.  If you serve warm:  serve immediately

5.) If you want to serve cold: transfer rice pudding into a storage container and place plastic wrap right onto the surface of the pudding to prevent a skin from forming; chill completely.  Note:  If you find your chilled rice pudding is too firm, stir in a little cream. 


Serving Suggestion:  I loved this rice pudding served with a drizzle of pomegranate molasses on the top.  The tart-sweet-tangy is a nice compliment to the sweet and creamy pudding.  Otherwise, you can sprinkle cinnamon on top for a classic rice pudding combination.