A custardy, oven-baked rice pudding takes a bit of patience but if you can endure the tantalizing aromas and the occasional need for stirring, you'll be rewarded with the ultimate comforting dessert. This version incorporates creamy arborio rice slowly cooked in coconut milk with the Southeast Asian-inspired flavors of ginger, kaffir lime, and palm sugar. Sweet but not too sweet, it strikes a lovely balance of familiarity and intrigue. The dessert is naturally gluten-free and can easily be made vegan.
Coconut Rice Pudding with Ginger and Kaffir Lime
Oven method adapted from Mark Bittman
Coconut oil or butter for greasing the baking dish
1/3 cup arborio rice
1/2 cup palm sugar
1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger
1 fresh kaffir lime leaf (or 2 dried leaves)
1 (14-ounce) can unsweetened coconut milk
3 1/4 cups unsweetened soy milk or whole milk
1/2 cup toasted cashews (see Recipe Notes)
2 tablespoons toasted shredded coconut (see Recipe Notes)
Finely grated zest of 1 lime
Preheat the oven to 300°F with a rack in the middle. Grease the sides of a 2-quart baking dish with coconut oil or butter.
Combine the rice, sugar, ginger, kaffir lime leaf, and salt in the baking dish. Pour in the milks and stir to combine.
Bake, uncovered, for 90 minutes, stirring every 30 minutes. Continue to bake for about 20 more minutes, checking and stirring every 10 minutes. The pudding will be done when the rice is plump and tender yet still a bit chewy. Keep in mind that the milk will continue to thicken as the pudding cools. Remove from the oven and let rest at least 10 minutes. Discard the kaffir lime leaf.
Serve warm or chilled. Divide the pudding among individual dishes and top with the cashews, shredded coconut, and lime zest.
• To toast cashews and coconut (work in separate batches): Heat a dry skillet over medium heat. Add the cashews or coconut and toast, stirring frequently, until fragrant and golden. Remove to a plate and let cool before using.