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March 8, 2009

Dairy-free Dessert: Cinnamon Coconut Rice Pudding

I am enamored with coconut, nature’s most decadent creation. Rich and slightly sweet, coconuts are dessert growing on trees. Equipped with a hammer, I could be very happy stranded on a deserted tropical island.


Coconut milk is a versatile alternative to milk and cream in sweet and savory dishes. The dense, semi-solid coconut cream that rises to the top in the refrigerator can be whipped, just like whipping cream, or used as a base for ice cream. Coconut milk lends tropical flavor to fruit smoothies, and adds depth to curries and black bean soup.

Coconut milk takes the place of dairy milk in this classic dessert. On a cold day, long-simmered cinnamon rice pudding is as comforting as a warm blanket fresh from the dryer. Served cold with fruit, it tastes like a backyard luau. I like the round, soft texture of arborio rice, but you could use plain white rice instead.

Cinnamon Coconut Rice Pudding

1 14-oz. can coconut milk

2 cups water

½ cup arborio rice

¼ cup sugar

¼ teaspoon nutmeg

1 cinnamon stick

Pinch of salt

Suggested toppings: cinnamon, toasted coconut, sliced almonds, fruit

Combine all the ingredients in a medium saucepan and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low and slowly simmer for 40 minutes, stirring occasionally to prevent the rice from clumping. Remove the cinnamon stick and serve with one or more toppings, if desired.

Serves 4.

Mary Lake is a writer, teacher, columnist for MF&L, and vegetarian blogger: Mitten Machen

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