The Christmas season revolves around three things in my little world: remembering the birth and life of our Savior, spending time with family and enjoying the smorgasbord of Swedish food that my family traditions center on all December long.
Among the lineup of food is my great, great grandmother's rice pudding recipe. It's simple. It's sweet. It's milky and creamy. It's comforting. And we make it every year for our Christmas Eve party.
Believe it or not, before this blog post I had never made a batch of Swedish Rice Pudding myself. Sure, I'd helped mom in the kitchen. But never on my own. I suppose it's one part laziness, one part convenience in that I knew my mom would always make it for me.
The recipe is simple. It begins with regular long grain white rice. Boil some of it up in some lightly salted water and you've got your rice. I suppose you could even use leftover cooked rice.
Then you lightly sweeten and spice up the rice. Rice is after all, a blank canvas that needs some flavor-fying. To begin, our Swedish rice pudding recipe adds one stick cinnamon, two heaping tablespoons of packed brown sugar and a can of evaporated milk.
My family recipe is generations old. Though (as usual) I'm puzzled if in fact the recipe has been changed over the years. After all, evaporated milk was only introduced in the 1920s and modern appliances like the slow cooker are now used to make it.
But when speaking with my mother, she remembers her mother always made it with evaporated milk. She then reminisced how she remembered her mother giving the babies evaporated milk since that's what was used before formula. Did you know that?
Eager to feel even more connected to my Swedish ancestors, I pushed my slow cooker aside and went for the double broiler method. Once your first few ingredients are combined, cover the rice completely with milk (I use whole) it ended up being about 1 3/4 cups. But yours may be different.
Now cover the rice and let the double broiler do its work over the pan of simmering water. Check on the rice every 10-15 minutes and stir. This photo above is after thirty minutes.
The result is an insanely creamy, chewy (not mushy) rice pudding. The milky sweetness pulls through as does the cinnamon. I asked my little sister what her favorite part of Swedish Rice Pudding was and she said, "Dumping a ton of cinnamon and sugar on it!"
That couldn't be more from the truth. I did that as a kid and I do it now. We kept our cinnamon and sugar shaker next to the pudding so everyone could further sweeten and spice their individual bowl.
Whether or not you've got Swede in your blood, you should give this simple recipe a try. I loved making it and look forward to making it again and maybe even playing around with the recipe. It took every bit of discipline in me not to crush up cardamom pods and use arborio rice. ;) Shh...don't tell my mom!
If you want more Scandinavian food love, head on over to my friend Lindsey's blog to see her Norwegian Cardamom Almond Tart! God Jul!
Swedish Christmas Rice Pudding
In a 2 quart pan, bring to a boil:
2 C water (very slightly salted)
1 C white rice (long-grain is fine, a shorter, medium-grain is very good as well)
Cook for about 15-20 minutes, covered on low heat. Take off heat and let sit for 5
Then place the rice in a crock pot (or double broiler) and add:
1 can evaporated milk (12 oz.)
1 stick of cinnamon
2 T (heaping!) of brown sugar
Regular milk – to just cover rice (Start with 1 cup, then move to 1 1/2 cups, etc.)
Almond (can put in at this time or right before serving)
Cook on low setting about 2-4 hours. Watch, just until most of milk is absorbed, you
don’t want it to be dry and over-cooked. (For stove top version, stir every 10-15 minutes until most of milk is absorbed. Mine takes 40-45 minutes.)
Serve with cinnamon and sugar mixture and half and half (my favorite), cream, or milk. Don’t forget to put an almond in the pudding mixture before serving, you will not know who gets it until
someone says, “I got the almond!” This is an old Swedish custom – the person who
finds the almond in his pudding will be the next in line to be married.
More Swedish posts of mine:
Grandma Beeda's Swedish Pancake Recipe
Dop-i-Grytan & Our Swedish Christmas Eve Smorgasbord Menu
Swedish Hostess Gift: Lingonberry Jam & Glogg
St. Lucia Day (A Preview)