Rice Pudding (Arroz Doce)

Lucy Fonseca is 92 years young and knows her Rice Pudding or Arroz Doce as it’s known in Portugal, where the Fonseca’s hail from.

Rice Pudding or Arroz Doce is a universal dish that almost every culture in the world from Europe to the Middle East to Asia to the Nordic countries has some inspired version of.

The flavorings of Rice Pudding or Arroz Doce change from one culture to another – rose water, jasmine, oranges, vanilla, etc. – but the basics are the same; rice, milk, eggs, spices and something SWEET. Some varieties are unfettered, plain, others laced with raisins or dried fruit.

In the U.S. cowboy camp cooks made a version of Rice Pudding with raisins famous. This version became known as “Spotted Pup.”

Nothing could be simpler than Rice Pudding to make, but the secret is in the subtleties.

Here Lucy’s grandson Tim Fonseca, Executive Pastry Chef of the Four Seasons Hotel in Boston, graciously guides us through those very subtleties that make Rice Pudding, or Arroz Doce, one of the most sought after desserts in the world.

Recipe: Lucy’s Rice Pudding (Arroz Doce).

  • 1/2 c. long-grain-rice.
  • 1/2 orange.
  • 1 1/2 c. water.
  • 1/4 t. salt.
  • 4 c. milk.
  • 2 c. heavy cream.
  • 4 egg yolks.
  • 1/2 c. sugar (or more according to taste).
  • Cinnamon.

Rinse the rice in cold water, drain and set aside. Cut the peel from the orange half into thin strips. In a large saucepan, bring to a boil. Add the orange peel, salt and rice. Cook until the water is absorbed.

Meanwhile, in a separate saucepan over medium heat, warm the milk and cream. Add the warmed milk and cream to the rice. Continue cooking over a very low heat for about 1 hour, stirring with a wooden spoon as needed, until the mixture is creamy. Enjoy the unique aroma of Rice Pudding as it’s cooking !

Whisk the egg yolks in a bowl. Whisk a quarter of a cup of the cooked rice into the eggs, being careful not to curdle them. Stir the rice-egg mixture back into the rice along with the sugar. Cook 2 or 3 minutes and then pour into a shallow dish. (The mixture will have the texture of a creamy pudding; it will thicken, as it cools.) Cool in the refrigerator. When cool, score the top in a diamond pattern and sprinkle with cinnamon. Voilà – perfect Rice Pudding !

Serves 10 to 12.

Lucy Fonseca knows her Rice Pudding or Arroz Doce.