Coconut rice pudding brulee combines two tasty things into one fabulous sweet treat. My opinion of rice pudding has always been meh, but I admit I’m a fan of creme brulee. The addition of caramelized brown sugar topping transforms this into something far above the original, plain pudding.
An improved traditional pudding and the brulee combination takes this to a level worthy of a pure dessert course. It’s another winning combination by Ed Lee from his cookbook, Smoke & Pickles. Easily the best rice pudding I have ever tasted and will taste again.
Not long ago I suffered a failed star anise and bourbon infusion, so I used it with great trepidation. I learned it could impart a hint of anise without overpowering the entire dish. Unsweetened coconut milk is another first time ingredient that contributed another layer of flavor to complement the milk, cream and buttermilk. If you’re counting, that’s four types of milk in a single recipe and yes, it created deeper, nuanced flavor.
Finally, it was my first experience torching brown, instead of white granulated sugar. I can’t speak for Ed, but there was no “spooning” the brown sugar, because it had absorbed too much moisture.
This is an easy recipe and the closest thing to a problem was dispersal of the brown sugar. The moisture content defied spooning and I had to resort to a grinding sprinkle with my fingers, so I didn’t get a smooth, even layer.
I subbed vanilla extract for the vanilla bean and probably was lucky to do so, because if this tasted any better I would be in a diabetic coma. The second deviation was more brown sugar than called for because of the clumping.
Finally, I was forced to use sweet basil, because of bad weather that kept me away from my Asian market. Thai basil does have a unique aroma and taste that I enjoy, especially in my panang curry.
I give myself four and a half stars, because I deviated from his ingredient list ever so slightly. However, the taste of my re-creation and the recipe itself is a solid five stars.
Basic recipe from Chef Edward Lee of Louisville, Kentucky and his best selling cookbook Smoke & Pickles – Recipes From a New Southern Kitchen, 2013.