This beautiful version of the humble rice pudding, sees the classic mixed with a crème legere and hides a compote of blackberry and apple within. It’s certainly dinner party worthy!
Okay, so rice pudding isn’t particularly sexy and is often considered a little old school being just for the very young or infirm, but for me I love the stuff! I find it comforting, filling, nutritious and flavoursome. As a child, Mum would often make a large casserole dish of milk puddings and bake it slowly in the oven; Mmm it was so good, soon being demolished.
A little while ago I stumbled across a recipe by Michel Roux Jnr called Empress Rice Pudding, and being intrigued I learnt that this version is gently mixed with a custard and whipped cream and is then lightly set with gelatine. I was sold, it looked divine and sounded delicious being served with mixed dried fruits.
As Mr E is vegetarian I obviously couldn’t serve this version to him; so after a little playing around I managed to make it without any gelling agent by simply making all three of the components a little thicker. The rice pudding was made on the hob rather than in the oven, thus reducing the time involved. In place of the crème anglaise I used a crème patissiere which was then mixed with whipped cream to make, I believe crème legere. The mixture was placed into individual lined dariole moulds with a compote of blackberry & apple hidden in the centre. The pudding rice had been infused with cardamom to give a slight warming spice to the dessert, but this can easily be omitted if you prefer.
And the verdict? Oh. My. Goodness. It was delicious. It really elevated the humble rice pudding to a dessert which I’d be more than happy serving at a dinner party! It’s straight forward to make and as you can make it the day before, it frees up time allowing you to focus more on your main meal and guests.
So, let’s get to it and bake!
Empress Rice Pudding, with Blackberries & Apple Yum
Difficulty: Easy – Moderate
Freezable: Sorry, untested
Time: 45 minutes hands on; plus cooling and setting time
Adapted from: Michel Roux Jr’s Empress Rice Pudding
You will need:
4 x dariole moulds (ours hold 6 fl oz / 160ml)
3 x heavy based small pans
1 good sized mixing bowl
For the Rice Pudding
2 Cardamom Pods (optional)
450ml Milk (not skimmed)
80g Pudding Rice
For the Crème Patissiere / Crème Legere
200ml Milk (not skimmed)
2 large Egg Yolks
2 tbsp. Corn Flour
40g Caster Sugar
1/2 tsp Vanilla Extract
150ml Double Cream
For the Fruit Compote
1 Bramley Apple, peeled, cored and sliced thinly
2 handfuls of Blackberries, plus extra to serve
4 tbsp. Water
4 tsp Sugar
How to make them:
1. Infuse the rice with the cardamom. (Optional) To achieve the warming aroma of the cardamom in your Empress Rice Pudding, measure the rice grains into a bowl at least 24 hours before you plan to bake. Remove the cardamom seeds from the husk and place on top of the rice. Cover with cling film and set aside. When you’re ready to bake remove the cardamom seeds from the rice, those seeds can be used in another bake.
2. Start the milk pudding. Place the milk, pudding rice, and sugar into a heavy based small pan and set over a low to medium heat. Allow the milk to simmer slowly, preventing the mixture from boiling. Stir regularly to prevent the mixture from sticking. Keep cooking the rice until the mixture is thick and creamy. Try a rice grain and if it still has a ‘bite’ to it continue cooking for a little longer. The rice pudding needs to be quite thick in order for it to hold its shape when turned out of the dariole mould, though if you feel it has become too thick stir through a little more milk. It will take around 30-40 minutes to cook the rice sufficiently. Once cooked pour into a bowl. Cover with a cling film so that it is in direct contact with the pudding, this will help prevent a skin form forming whilst it cools.
3. Meanwhile make the fruit compote. Place the apple, blackberries, water and sugar into another small pan and place over a medium heat, stir regularly. Cook this mixture for about 10 minutes until the fruit has broken down and it is fairly thick. Place into a bowl and allow to cool.
4. Make the crème patisserie. Pour the milk into the pan and place on a low to medium heat to slowly bring it to the boil. Meanwhile place the egg yolks, sugar and corn flour into a bowl and whisk together. Once the milk has almost come to the boil, pour half of it over the egg mixture whilst whisking. Once it is fully combined, pour this egg mixture back into the pan with the remaining milk and continue whisking. Place the pan onto a very low heat and continue beating the mixture until it is very thick. If the mixture becomes a little lumpy, remove it from the heat and beat vigorously with a wooden spoon until it is smooth again. Avoid using too much heat on the hob as the eggs can easily scramble. Once the mixture is thick and creamy, pour this into another bowl. Cover this with cling film, so that the film is in direct contact with the crème patissiere. Set aside to cool.
5. Prepare the dariole moulds. Use a double thickness of cling film to line the moulds, ensuring that the cling film is large enough to extend beyond the mould rim. This excess cling film will be used to completely cover the Empress Rice Pudding.
6. Combine the mixtures. Once the rice pudding, crème patissiere and compote have cooled completely whip the double cream in a large mixing bowl. Ideally do this with a hand whisk to prevent the cream from being over whisked. Thoroughly stir the crème patisserie so that it is smooth and creamy. Add the crème patissiere to the double cream and mix gently with a tablespoon or spatula. Stir the rice pudding until it feels creamy again. Add to the crème patisserie / crème legere mixture cream mixture and stir this in gently with a tablespoon or spatula.
7. Fill the dariole moulds. Using a teaspoon almost half fill the moulds. Make an indentation in the mixture and place up to 1 teaspoon of the fruit compote in the indentation, ensuring that the fruit filling stays in the centre. Top with more of the rice pudding mixture carefully so that it doesn’t disturb the fruit filling. Cover the pudding with the excess cling film. Place in the fridge, ideally over night to firm up.
8. Serve. To de-mould the dessert, unwrap the excess cling film from the base of the pudding. Place a plate onto the mould then carefully turn them upside down together, so that the plate is now the correct way around. Remove the dariole mould. Gently peel away the cling film. Serve with blackberries and some of the remaining fruit compote.