Vanilla Rice Pudding with Sherry Soaked Prunes


Rain thundering down outside (not right now, but I am imagining), cold and dark outside, warm and cozy inside - and this is the perfect snuggy pudding - creamy, soft gently sweet rice with rich and luscious sherry soaked prunes...yum!!!!!

Actually, if I am imagining this, then it is in fact snowing outside and we have just come in from a hard day of skiing on a fabulous tree-dotted mountain. The wooden cabin has a crackling fire, squishy seats with woollen throws and there is soothing music on the stereo/ipod/spotify  - you get the picture!

Vanilla Rice Pudding:
1 vanilla bean
1 tsp vanilla bean paste
  7 cups whole milk (or a little more or less)
1/3 cup caster sugar
2 cups arborio or other risotto rice
1/3 cup cream

Put three cups of the milk in a large 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 milk has been absorbed. Heat the remaining milk gently until just simmering and add a cup at a time to the rice, replenishing as each cupful is absorbed. Continue to cook until rice is soft and creamy, about 40 minutes. Add as much milk as you wish to achieve a firmer or softer texture, ensuring that the rice is cooked through, and has just lost the 'chalky' bite you expect from a savoury risotto. Allow to cool for a minute, then stir through cream and serve topped with Sherry Soaked Prunes.  Also beautiful with a spoonful of vanilla bean ice cream - comfort in a bowl. Serves 6

Sherry Soaked Prunes:
24 prunes
2 cups good quality sweet sherry
2 tbsp caster sugar

Put prunes in a bowl and cover with boiling water. Stand for 15 minutes then drain well and put into a sealable container. Cover with sherry and sugar, mix gently to dissolve sugar then seal. Leave to soak for at least 4 hours, ideally over night or up to several weeks (tipping the conatiner every now and again to make sure all of the prunes are soaking up the luscious sherry). Serve the prunes with a drizzle of the sherry syrup - yum!

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