Effortless Vanilla Bean Rice Pudding with Saucy Tart Cherries

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Effortless Vanilla Bean Rice Pudding with Saucy Tart Cherries {baked, so all hands off! so creamy, can be served warm or cold}Effortless Baked Rice Pudding with Tart Cherries {gluten-free dessert}

This cherry topped vanilla bean rice pudding recipe is sponsored by the Cherry Marketing Institute. I’m excited to be partnering with them over the next few months to bring you more recipes and ideas about Montmorency tart cherries, which are not only delicious, but good for you too.

I’m a morning person, through and through. He is not.

But he played along this Sunday morning, as we awoke to the fluffiest blanket of magical snow. The evergreens wearing a white coat, snowflakes still drifting down, and a sleepy silence that can only be known if you’ve experienced it. Delicate, untouched, and pure. Something no other season brings.

I nudged Brian out of bed, and promised we’d walk to a warm brunch – AFTER I danced through the white drifts and made my fair share of snow angels. It made me feel like a kid again, in awe of something relatively simple, yet enchanting.

And an appreciation for the color white. Yes, I realize that may sound strange. But in a world so vivid, I think we often bypass white as boring or blank. Same goes for food….. White rice and milk certainly don’t tease the eye like kiwi, eggplant, butternut squash, or saucy tart cherries in this case. Yet it’s stillness, and reflection stopped me in my tracks when I was going to put the dish oven. A part of this recipe I hadn’t even planned on photographing…..

Effortless Vanilla Bean Rice Pudding with Saucy Tart Cherries {baked, so all hands off! so creamy, can be served warm or cold}Effortless Vanilla Bean Rice Pudding with Saucy Tart Cherries {baked, so all hands off! so creamy, can be served warm or cold}Effortless Vanilla Bean Rice Pudding with Saucy Tart Cherries {baked, so all hands off! so creamy, can be served warm or cold}Effortless Vanilla Bean Rice Pudding with Saucy Tart Cherries {baked, so all hands off! so creamy, can be served warm or cold}

How to Make Baked Rice Pudding

There are a myriad of ways that rice pudding can be made, both in ingredients and technique. I’ve made it on the stovetop {like risotto once too}, used leftover rice, short-grain and long -grain rice, with coconut milk, but none have been as “right” as this effortless, baked version. There’s little to be done other than combining the rice with the milk, maple syrup, and vanilla bean, then letting it do it’s thing in the oven.

It’s a technique learned from Mark Bittman, that I adapted slightly, swapping maple for the sugar, adjusting the liquid to rice measurement after a few tests. And broiling it the last few minutes to get those caramel-y brown spots on top.

You’ll think there’s too much liquid, even after you pull it from the oven, but patience is a virtue here. As it cools, the rice (I used jasmine) continues to soak up the milk and plump (swell). It will end up creamy and comforting, the rice tender, but not falling part. The vanilla bean adds such an amazing floral essence that I just can’t get enough of when matched with milky dairy.

Effortless Vanilla Bean Rice Pudding with Saucy Tart Cherries {baked, so all hands off! so creamy, can be served warm or cold}Effortless Vanilla Bean Rice Pudding with Saucy Tart Cherries {baked, so all hands off! so creamy, can be served warm or cold}

And the saucy tart cherries.… simmered with honey and black peppercorns, reminds me of a jammy ice cream topping, but purely fruit and not so sugary. They elevate this cozy pan into some kind of wholesome harmony, especially as a holiday dessert with its festive red.

And actually, having it be the last thing of the day could potentially help you get some better zzzzzz’s. Research shows that Montmorency tart cherries (these were frozen after being picked this summer from a family farm in Michigan) may help improve the quality and duration of sleep, reduce the severity of insomnia and increase overall sleep efficiency. And I like good sleep. :) They’re also one of the few food sources of melatonin, which I know many people take in supplement form.

The beauty of this recipe is that both parts can essentially be made up to two days ahead, then served warm, room temperature, or even cold (which I actually prefer). Minimal work, maximum soothing powers. Enjoy, xo.

Effortless Baked Rice Pudding with Tart Cherries {gluten-free dessert}Effortless Vanilla Bean Rice Pudding with Saucy Tart Cherries {baked, so all hands off! so creamy, can be served warm or cold}Effortless Baked Rice Pudding with Tart Cherries

Effortless Vanilla Bean Rice Pudding with Saucy Tart Cherries

A creamy rice pudding that's baked in the oven, and topped with jammy tart cherries.
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Prep Time :20 minutes
Cook Time :1 hour 40 minutes
Total Time :2 hours
Yield: 6
Author: Amanda Paa

SCALE:

Ingredients

  • Rice Pudding:
  • 1/2 cup jasmine rice
  • 3 1/2 cups of whole or 2% milk do not go less than that in terms of fat
  • 1/4 cup pure maple syrup
  • pinch of salt
  • 1/2 of one vanilla bean seeds scraped out
  • Cherries
  • 1 1/2 cups frozen Montmorency tart cherries thawed + 3 tablespoons of their juice from thawing
  • 1/3 cup honey
  • 1/2 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper
  • 3 tablespoons water
  • 2-3 teaspoons tapioca starch or cornstarch

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 300 degrees F.
  • In a large gratin dish (holds at least 6 cups), combine rice, milk, maple syrup, salt and seeds of vanilla bean. Stir to combine and set empty vanilla bean half on top.
  • Bake for 30 minutes, stir. Continue baking for 30 more minutes, then stir. At this point there will be a bit of skin that you are stirring back in stir back in. Cook for 30 more minutes. The rice will plump and start to become a more noticeable part of the mixture and the skin becomes more visible and darker. The pudding is getting close, bake 5 more minutes.
  • Take the dish out and set it on the counter. You will see that once it sits for even a minute, even though you don’t think it’s done, it will start to sink in just from this short test, a sign it is absorbing the liquid.
  • Now broil on low for 3 minutes, until you get some brown spots on top. Take out and it may seem a little liquidy still, which is how it should be because it will thicken by letting cool for at least one hour. If you chill it overnight in the refrigerator, it will be very thick.
  • Then serve with saucy cherries, below.
  • While the rice is baking, make the cherries. Add frozen tart cherries, honey, tart cherry juice, and black pepper. Bring to a boil, then turn down to a simmer for 12 minutes, stirring a few times. Then dissolve the tapioca starch in water, and stir into mixture. Cook for another minute, until thickened.

Notes

You’ll think there’s too much liquid, even after you pull it from the oven, but patience is a virtue here. As it cools, the rice (I used jasmine) continues to soak up the rice and plump, especially once it's refrigerated. It will end up creamy and comforting, the rice tender, but not falling part. Best served at room temperature.

Did you make this?

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December 14, 2016

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25 comments

  1. OH MY WORD — I’m unsure how exactly I ended up on your page or this particular recipe (yay, internet!) but I bought all the ingredients and prepped this for breakfast this morning. I used full-fat coconut milk in place of the dairy, but that was my only change. This is absolutely outstanding, and I am bookmarking it forever. The black pepper in the saucy cherries gives it such a unique flavor, and the combination of the coconut and vanilla is decadent without being sinful (i.e. no gluten, dairy, or refined sugar for me). Thanks so much for this one — and now that I’ve found your page, I’m going to click around and try some of your other recipes.

  2. Hi,
    This recipe looks lovely and I can’t wait to try it with the rainier cherries I have! I was wondering if your rice was pre-cooked? Or did you put uncooked rice straight in the oven? Also, does it bake for a total of about 1 hour or 1 hour 30 minutes? You mentioned baking and stirring a few times and I wasn’t sure if you just cook for 1 hour and stir half way or if you cook for 1 hour 30 minutes (and stir every 30 minutes). Thank you for your help and I’m looking forward to trying the rice pudding!

  3. This sounds so delicious! I’m looking for recipes to make with a bunch of rice my mother gave me. The cherries sounds so good. Does it reheat well? There’s only 2 of us so I know we can’t eat that much! Can’t wait to make it.

    • I actually prefer eating it cold, so haven’t rewarmed! It’s only two of us here as well, and we ate it for about 3 days. I would guess that it would heat well, over the stove.

  4. Winter is my favorite season. I know people think I’m crazy for that, but the stillness and nostalgia of the snow and grey days make me feel comforted and at peace. I was instantly transported to that place when you described walking to brunch. Wish I could’ve been there with you. I want to use tart cherries more often. And you know my black pepper loving heart adored the addition of that to mellow it all out. LOVE, xx.

  5. Oh Amanda, your posts always slay me. This is just beautiful – alex in particular will LOVE this because he is OBSESSED with rice pudding. At the grocery store he never fails to swoop up a pack of rice pudding if he sees it, it’s definitely overdue for me to make him a homemade good version :). I’ve found the one I’m going to make!

  6. First of all, these shots are gorgeous. I have always loved rice pudding but have never made it myself! This needs to change and now I have a perfect recipe to start with. I had no idea that tart cherries were such a source of melatonin – sleep is something that has not come easily as of late. Love that little tidbit! Beautiful, Amanda. xo.

  7. Love how you related the rice pudding whiteness to snow! This post feels so cozy. I absolutely want to try this. I have never tried rice pudding before, which is funny as rice pudding is definitely a popular recipe in my culture. I’ll surely be trying this! Pinned <3

  8. You make such a non-photogenic (but delicious) dish look so elegant!! Could you substitute almond milk for the 2% in this recipe, or would a higher fat milk like cashew or coconut work better? Thank you in advance! I’m excited to feed some hot and sweet rice pudding to my family on Christmas morning! Merry Christmas to you, and a warm and joyful New Year!

    • Claire! Thank you so much for the kind words about the photos. I had fun trying to capture something, like you said, that can be a little challenging. I haven’t tested it with a non-dairy milk, but if I had to guess, I’d say full fat coconut milk or cashew milk, well stirred, would be your best bet because of the higher fat. Let me know if you do try it! xo

  9. My mom used to bake her rice pudding and it was my favourite thing, ever. Yours is bringing up so much nostalgia right now! I’m also dying to try that broil method for a toasty, caramelized topping. I’ve heard that cherries can aid in sleep too and that’s enough reason for me to make this for dessert, asap ;)
    Your wintery morning sounds delightful. Hoping you two get many more this season! xoxo

  10. I still reallllly need to make it to Michigan to try their cherries! I adore things that I can mix together and pop in the oven, they are truly the BEST. I love the idea of saving cherries for these cold winter months, it gives us hope for the summer to come :)

  11. These beautiful photos really do remind me of the white peacefulness of snow. Lovely! And saucy cherries just sound full of attitude and amazing. xo

    • THE best! I had such a fun time being there during the harvest this summer, and now it is so much fun to cook with them. They are a perfect match for the vanilla and cream. Thanks for stopping by Karlie!