Sarah's Riz au Lait


(my take on the superb vanilla rice pudding with caramel sauce and praline walnuts that we enjoyed at L'ami Jean in Paris)

This dessert really is delicious, light, soft and luscious - the rich vanilla cream flavour goes perfectly with the dark caramel and crunchy walnuts. I had been hanging out to make it since the first mouthful - first day back, and here it is!

Walnut Praline:
1 cup walnuts
100g sugar 
2 tablespoons water

Preheat oven to 180˚C (350˚F) and put walnuts on a baking tray. Put a square of baking paper on a dinner plate ready for praline. Bake walnuts for 5 minutes until just fragrant and lightly colored. Once the walnuts are in the oven, heat the sugar and water together in a medium size, heavy based saucepan. Cook over medium heat without stirring, until the sugar has dissolved and caramelised, turning a rich golden colour. The amount of time varies but can be more than 5 minutes. Keep an eagle eye on the caramel so that you don't miss the magical point between golden and rich, and black and bitter. As soon as you have a golden amber liquid tip in the walnuts and coat in caramel. Quickly pour onto the baking paper and leave to set. Caution: do not put your fingers any where near the caramel, it is viciously hot! Once praline is cold you can smash it into chunks with the end of a rolling pin - up to you whether you like your praline chunky or fine!

Riz au Lait:
1 vanilla bean
4 cups whole milk
1/4 cup caster sugar
1 cup arborio or other risotto rice
1 cup cream, whipped to firm peaks
1 tablespoon icing sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Put the milk in a medium size heavy based saucepan. Split the vanilla bean and scrape out the seeds. Put both pod and beans into the milk. Add sugar and heat together over medium heat until simmering. Remove vanilla pod, add rice and cook over a gentle heat, stirring occasionally, until the rice is soft and creamy, about 40 minutes. Allow to cool at room temperature. Whip chilled cream with icing sugar and vanilla extract, and fold gently through rice mixture. 

Caramel Sauce:

1/2 cup caster sugar
2 tbsp water
150ml cream
(makes about 1 cup)

 Prepare yourself, this is a little bit scary! Heat caster sugar and water together in a pan over a medium heat until the mixture has crystallized, then turned a light golden color. Remove from the heat and microwave cream for about 1 minute or so until almost boiling - it must be very hot - not tepid. In amounts of about 2 tablespoons at a time whisk hot cream into hot caramel sugar - it will froth up madly in a freaky way, but just whisk hard and keep adding in small amounts until it is all incorporated...worth the effort! Store in a jar once cooled.

To serve:
Serve Riz au Lait topped with a drizzle of Caramel Sauce and a sprinkling of Walnut Praline. It can be served hot, room temperature or chilled - if you refrigerate it, it will need loosening with a few tablespoons of heavy cream as it will firm up. You will not be disappointed. Serves 4-6 depending on your appetite.


  1. Really want to try your recipe as I love rice pudding and your recipe is different from the normal baked rice pudding. I would like to serve it hot, when would I do that? After adding the cream or before? Thanks

    1. Hi Andie - hmmm, I would probably add half a cup of cream (un-whipped) at the end while cooking it - and then it may not need any more to serve while it is still hot (what the whipped cream does is to help soften it and make it creamier once it has cooled). Hope this helps! :)

  2. That's great, thanks will give it a go. And thanks for the prompt reply!

  3. What a lovely, creamy rice pudding, even if I put the rice in at the same time as the milk! It still turned out really well, now I want to try to make it and have it cold. It's now my go to recipe for rice pudding.