This rice pudding comes from the author's Cuban friend who uses starchy, short-grain Valencia-style rice to achieve a creaminess reminiscent of risotto. Valencia-style rice can be found at most supermarkets; you can also use a short-grain rice like Arborio or Japanese white rice.
3 cups water
1 cup short-grain rice (such as Arborio)
4 whole cloves
1 (2-inch) piece vanilla bean, split lengthwise
1 (2-inch) cinnamon stick
1 (14-ounce) can fat-free sweetened condensed milk
1/2 cup evaporated fat-free milk
1/2 cup light coconut milk
1/2 cup golden raisins
1 tablespoon chopped crystallized ginger
1 teaspoon grated lemon rind
Pinch of salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon (optional)
How to Make It
Place water and rice in a large saucepan. Place cloves, vanilla, and cinnamon on a double layer of cheesecloth. Gather edges of cheesecloth together; tie securely. Add to rice mixture. Bring to a simmer over medium heat, stirring frequently. Reduce heat to low; cook 20 minutes or until rice is tender and liquid is almost absorbed.
Stir in milks and raisins; cook 10 minutes, stirring frequently. Stir in ginger, rind, and salt; cook 5 minutes, stirring frequently. Remove cheesecloth with spices. Pour rice mixture into a bowl or individual bowls; cover surface of pudding with plastic wrap. Chill. Sprinkle with cinnamon, if desired.