Pumpkin Spice Rice Pudding

Pumpkin Spice Rice Pudding (via abeautifulmess.com)I think my love of rice pudding started sometime in early 2008. I had recently graduated college and moved across the country to Los Angeles. Before that, I had probably seen rice pudding in those little, plastic cups in the refrigerated area of grocery stores, but in my mind it was just like green jello—something you might get served at your grandmother's house or a hospital.

(Apologies if you love green jello.)

I'm really glad I came around to it though because I seriously LOVE rice pudding. Yes, it has a kind of strange texture for a pudding. Usually I think of pudding as something super smooth and creamy like ice cream. But rice pudding is more like tapioca pudding; it's got some texture to it, but I find that this makes it all the more interesting. 

But if tapioca pudding conjures up more thoughts of hospitals for you, then forget I said anything. Because rice pudding is seriously where it is at! And this recipe adds some of my favorite fall flavors to the mix. Try this soon—I promise you'll love it (bonus points because it's incredibly easy to make!).

Pumpkin Spice Rice Pudding (via abeautifulmess.com)   Pumpkin Spice Rice Pudding (via abeautifulmess.com)  Pumpkin Spice Rice Pudding, makes 4-6 servings

2 tablespoons butter
1 cup Arborio rice
2 1/2 cups milk
1 cup cream (half and half works well, heavy whipping would be even more decadent)
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup pumpkin
3/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1 tablespoon maple syrup
1/3 cup packed brown sugar
whipped cream for serving, optional

In a medium size pot over low heat, combine the milk, cream, and vanilla extract. Keep warmed but not so hot that the mixture develops a skin, because ew. 

Rice pudding recipeIn another medium to large size pot, melt the butter over low heat. Add the rice and stir in with the butter until the rice begins to turn translucent. Then slowly begin adding the milk mixture to the rice pot, stirring as you cook to incorporate the liquid and cook the rice. Once most of the liquid has absorbed, add more milk to the pot. It should take you about 30 minutes to add all the liquid and for the rice to be nearly cooked through (test by eating a piece and checking for doneness). This is basically the same method as making risotto, another favorite dish of mine. 

Wait, do I just really love rice? Or maybe I just really love carbs. 🙂

Then stir the pumpkin, spices, sugar, and maple syrup in with the rice pudding. Cook until everything is warmed through and well mixed together. 

How to make rice puddingAlthough this rice pudding recipe isn't overly sweet, I would still consider this more of a sweet snack or dessert option since it's quite rich from all the cream. If you are serving it as dessert, I highly recommend topping it with whipped cream. It begins to taste just like pumpkin pie to me at that point since I always top pumpkin pie with whipped cream. 

I like this recipe warm, as it just feels right for the season. But cold rice pudding is excellent as well. You can store any leftovers covered in the refrigerator for 3-5 days, probably longer, but mine never lasts that long. 

Pumpkin Spice Rice Pudding (via abeautifulmess.com) A few notes:

-You can easily cut this recipe in half if you don't want to make 4-6 servings. If you do, I would recommend tasting and possibly adding more of the spices as cutting them in half, even for half the amount of overall rice pudding might make them taste too faint. So, just check and add a bit more if needed. 

-You can swap out the Arborio rice for brown rice or even black rice to add a bit more nutrition. You may want to increase the liquid a little (about 2 tablespoons) if you do. You can also swap out the butter for vegan butter, and the milk and cream for soy milk, almond milk, or coconut milk. Some of these will result in a less creamy consistency, but if you can't have dairy, it's still really yummy. I shared a black rice pudding recipe made with coconut milk earlier this year. So check that out to see how things might translate. 

Make a big, warm bowl of this soon and enjoy it curled up with a good book—especially if it's rainy or when it starts to threaten to snow here in another few months! Cozy times. xo. Emma

Credits // Author and Photography: Emma Chapman. Photos edited with the NEW A Beautiful Mess actions