Another proper recipe this week! This one is also inspired by the new Sainsbury’s flavoured sugar range. This time, I used the vanilla sugar, to prepare first a lovely dairy free (and vegan) rice pudding, which I then added a few bits and pieces to and churned into a delicious gelato.
In truth I’m describing this as gelato in a very uninformed way. Is gelato just the Italian word for ice cream? Wise Geek tells me that gelato contains less air, less fat and is soft-frozen. Soft-frozen is absolutely not a term I would apply to this particular recipe – not in my kitchen, at least. If you are eating it straight away you can manage this better, by only freezing for an hour or two after churning. I left mine overnight, and I still haven’t nailed the whole texture thing – this gelato needs time out of the freezer to thaw so that you can scoop it up. It’s a work in progress.
Apart from the vanilla sugar, the key ingredient to this recipe is almond milk, which is a creamy, sweet and faintly nutty vegan alternative to cow’s milk. The finished article also contains soy cream, which combined with the starch from the rice gives the pudding (or gelato) that rich, silky finish. It’s amazing how good the dairy alternatives are, now – the taste and texture is so close to the real thing, it’s remarkable. Just don’t try to put them in your coffee.
This rice pudding is baked, which makes it quite hands-off. To transform it to gelato, it simply requires a few extra ingredients and a quick whirl in an ice cream maker. I wouldn’t go as far as to say it’s low maintenance, but for the exciting dessert you end up with it’s worth it.
The recipe makes enough to serve a minimum of six people – you can split it to make a more manageable amount. I based it on this interpretation of David Lebowitz’s recipe at Cold Comfort Ice Cream.
- 200g pudding rice (very short grain and starchy)
- 200g vanilla sugar
- 1 litre almond milk
- 250ml soy cream
- 5 egg yolks
- nutmeg, to taste (I used about 1/2 a small nutmeg, which I liked but was very strong)
- salt, to taste
- 50ml vodka (optional, helps with frozen texture)
Heat the oven to 175C.
Put the rice, sugar and milk in a large casserole dish (I used my special heart-shaped dish, which is just under two liters in volume). Stir until all the sugar is dissolved.
Bake the rice, covered, for an hour. Remove from the oven and uncover to thicken while you prepare the eggs.
Prepare the eggs. Whisk the yolks with the cream, then pour into the hot rice pudding, stirring as you go to prevent the eggs from cooking.
Taste the rice, and add nutmeg until you’re happy. If it is too sweet, or if you want to bring out the vanilla flavour, add a pinch or two of salt.
Blend about half of the rice pudding so that the rice grains are broken up really small, or pureed altogether. This bring out a lot of starch which makes the pudding even creamier, and gives you a really interesting level of texture.
Cool the rice to room temperature, then chill for several hours. You can do this over a bowl of ice water if there isn’t room in the fridge – you may have to replace the ice a couple of times. Add the vodka, if you have some to hand and aren’t opposed to it. Alcohol will stop the gelato from freezing tooooooooooo hard.
Once chilled, churn in an ice cream maker as per the instructions. Make sure there isn’t too much for the machine or you won’t get enough air into the mixture.
Consume on your favourite ice cream vehicle; wafers, oysters, nougats, or just from a bowl with a spoon.
As mentioned, you can also eat the rice pudding hot from the oven, either with or without extra soy cream. You can go the whole hog and add the egg yolks and cream, and blend half the rice, before eating some. Alternatively, just stop the recipe before adding the egg yolks, then season with nutmeg and/or salt as required. Fire a splodge of jam in the middle, and you’re good to go!
Now, tell me: do ice cream oysters exist in other parts of the world? And what about a double nougat? And, if they do exist, do you say ‘nougat’ properly or do you say it like we do in Glasgow, ‘nugget’? If you have no idea what I’m on about, a double nugget (alright, noooougaaaaaaat), is an ice cream sandwich of intense proportions. Either side of the sandwich is made of two wafers, filled with sticky marshmallow and coasted in chocolate, and then in the middle you get two scoops of ice cream and usually some raspberry sauce. I use the word raspberry by convention only – it’s a bright pink sugary syrup with some kind of fruit flavouring in it. It’s great.
You can also get a single nugget which is one of these chocolatey wafer creations, then two scoops of ice cream, and then just a plain wafer on the bottom. I always think you may as well just go for broke, though, when it comes to ice cream. Go big or go home, you know?