My all time favorite dessert at a diner is rice pudding. They always serve it in a big cup, the pudding overflowing, with a huge swirl of whipped cream and a little sprinkle of cinnamon on top. Could there be a better ending to a meal at a good diner? A mile-high turkey club, followed by a dreamy cup of homemade rice pudding. Don’t tell me the diner doesn’t make it from scratch! I’ve always envisioned a grandmother back in the diner kitchen making batches of pudding. The creamy simplicity of diner rice pudding is what gets me every time. I’ve never been served rice pudding with raisins, almonds, cardamom or lemon at a diner. Never mango, coconut or nutmeg either, just plain old-fashioned creamy rice pudding.
Many years ago I found a recipe for rice pudding on the Epicurious website. It included an article from 2002 about Company 18 of the New York Fire Department. They named the pudding after a firefighter named Steve “Gonzo” Gonzalez. This really is the best rice pudding, ever! Over the years I’ve adapted some healthy changes to the original, which I like to think allow me to eat massive quantities in one sitting – wishful thinking. Making this is a labor of love. It’s not one of those recipes that you can throw together, walk away and let simmer on the stove untouched. It will need about an hour of your attention, but you will find it’s worth every minute.
- One half-gallon fat-free milk
- 1 cup long grain white rice
- 1 cup sugar
- 2 tbsp butter
- 1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 2 eggs
- 1 cup heavy cream
- Cinnamon to sprinkle on top
* If you’re a full fat lover, feel free to use whole milk, but you don’t need it.
Put the milk, rice, sugar, butter, vanilla and salt in a large saucepan and bring to a boil. Immediately reduce the heat and simmer uncovered for about 45 minutes or until the rice is tender. The key is frequent stirring and simmering on a very low flame. A film will develop on top of the pudding as it cooks if you don’t stir frequently.
Meanwhile, whisk the eggs in a medium bowl. Once the pudding has thickened and the rice is tender, remove the pan from the heat and ladle one cup of the pudding into the bowl with the eggs, stirring vigorously. Then add a second cup and stir vigorously again. This will temper the eggs so they don’t end up scrambled from the heat of the pudding. Immediately pour the egg mixture back into the pan and stir well. Pour in the heavy cream and stir until combined. Bring back to a very low simmer for about 15 minutes longer, still stirring frequently.
Pour the pudding into a 9×13 casserole dish or I use an oval Corningware dish that’s about 3 liters in size. Smooth the top of the pudding and sprinkle with cinnamon. Let sit to cool on your counter for a bit before covering and placing in your refrigerator. Allow to cool completely in the refrigerator before serving – at least 4 hours or overnight. It will continue to thicken in the refrigerator as it chills.
* Yes! That’s a can of Reddi Wip in the background of the photo! You might need a can of this for your week of rice pudding eating. Unless of course, you’re willing to pull out the mixer and make a batch of homemade for the occasion.