Wednesday, December 31, 2008
Rice As the Empress Likes It - Riz L'Imperatrice en Gelee
Riz à l'impératrice is a very rich rice pudding made with vanilla custard, whipped cream and crystallized fruit that's been soaked in brandy or kirsch. It's a wonderfully festive way to usher in the New Year and it's not difficult to make. I've made a few changes to an old Julia Child recipe and, to avoid stress, I serve the pudding in martini glasses so there is no last minute unmolding to be done. That also allows me to use less gelatin and that makes for a creamier pudding. The puddings in the photograph are topped with a gelee that is nothing more than warmed and strained preserves. You could also use macerated fruit or a fruit sauce to crown the pudding. Is this my favorite dessert? Not by a long shot, but I do like to know I have a handle - however loose - on classic French desserts. This is a classic that can be moved from my "to do" to "done" list. Would I make it again? Perhaps. It's a good way to use the last of the glaceed fruit and I didn't hate it. When all is said and done, "It's a (kinda)good thing."
3/4 cup finely diced mixed red and green glaced cherries
1/4 cup kirsch or brandy
2 to 4 teaspoons powdered gelatin
4 quarts water
1/2 cup white rice
1-2/3 cup + 1-1/2 cups milk, divided use
1/3 cup + 3/4 cup granulated sugar, divided use
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 teaspoons vanilla extract, divided use
5 large egg yolks
1 teaspoon cornstarch
3 tablespoons strained apricot preserves
1 cup heavy cream
Optional: Macerated fruit or red berry sauce
1) Preheat oven to 300 degrees F.
2) Place fruit in a small bowl. Toss with kirsch. Sprinkle with gelatin. If you plan to mold the pudding use 4 teaspoons of powdered gelatin. Set aside.
3) Bring 4 quarts of water to a rolling boil over high heat. Add rice and cook for 5 minutes. Drain thoroughly.
4) Place 1-2/3 cups milk, 1/3 cup sugar and butter in a casserole that can move from stovetop to oven. Bring to a boil. Stir in rice and 1 teaspoon vanilla and bring back to a simmer. Cover rice with parchment paper. Cover casserole and bake until milk is absorbed and rice is tender, about 40 minutes.
5) Meanwhile, place egg yolks in the bowl of an electric mixer. Add reserved 3/4 cup sugar and beat until mixture is pale yellow and forms a ribbon when dropped back on itself. Add cornstarch and blend. Bring reserved 1-1/2 cups milk to a boil. Lower mixer speed and add milk in a thin stream to egg yolk mixture. Pour into a large saucepan and cook over moderate heat, stirring constantly, until mixture coats a spoon. Remove from heat and stir in glaceed fruit; stir until gelatin is dissolved. Stir in reserved 1 teaspoon vanilla and strained apricot preserves. Stir rice into custard, a spoonful at a time. Chill until cold but not set.
6) Beat cream until beater leaves traces on surface and cream doubles in volume. Do not overbeat. Fold cream into custard. If using a mold turn into an oiled mold or spoon into 8 martini glasses. Cover and refrigerate for 4 hours or overnight.
7) If using martini glasses top pudding with fruit or sauce. If using a mold, release onto a rimmed serving platter and surround with sauce or fruit. Yield: 8 servings.