Arroz con Leche, or Mexican Rice Pudding, is popular in Mexico and all throughout Latin America and in Spain. Ask anyone from a Latin country if they like Arroz con Leche and their eyes will light up like a kid on Christmas morning.
Mexican rice pudding is not unique to Latin America. People eat rice pudding all over the world on every continent. It is typically eaten for dessert, but you can also serve it for breakfast. My 3-year-old loves Arroz con Leche with a side of bacon for breakfast.
When I tested this rice pudding recipe, I asked my Honduran housekeeper and our Mexican babysitter to taste it. They said it was perfect, exactly like they make it.
You can add as much or as little butter or cream as you like. I used just a few tablespoons of butter. You could also use cream. I used very little sweetener. If you like it sweeter, you can add more sugar or add a little honey on top at the end.
A Note on the Photograph
The photo above is not mine. Most people use white rice for their Arroz con Leche. I do not. Brown rice, soaked for 1-2 days, is infinitely more nutritious than white rice. I also find it more flavorful. Now that I’m acclimated to brown rice, white rice tastes like paper.
Notes on Soaking Brown Rice
Why should we soak brown rice? Brown rice is more nutritious than white rice (which is pretty much empty calories), but brown rice does contain anti-nutrients. According to Wikipedia:
Phytic acid has a strong binding affinity to important minerals such as calcium, magnesium, iron, and zinc. When a mineral binds to phytic acid, it becomes insoluble, precipitates and will be nonabsorbable in the intestines. This process can therefore contribute to mineral deficiencies…
I recommend soaking with warm water and a little yogurt or kefir… but there is a better way that works to ferment the rice much faster. Check out this neat post on the Whole Health Source blog on the most effective way how to soak brown rice. This is an accelerated fermentation method — the procedure comes from a traditional Chinese recipe for rice noodles. I’m going to start doing it this way from now on, since we eat brown rice often.
Arroz con Leche or Mexican Rice Pudding
Whey, yogurt, kefir or buttermilk (2 TBS) — where to buy yogurt
Short-grain brown rice, organic, and sprouted if possible (2 cups DRY) — where to buy sprouted brown rice
Whole milk, raw if possible, from grass-fed cows (1 1/2-2 cups) — where to buy raw milk
Eggs, large, pastured or free-range organic (3)
Sucanat, palm sugar or honey (1/3 cup) — where to buy sweeteners
Vanilla extract, organic if possible (1/2 tsp) — how to make vanilla extract
Sea salt (1 pinch) — where to buy sea salt
Cinnamon, ground (to taste)
Butter or cream, grass-fed, organic, not ultra-pasteurized (to taste)
Optional: Raisins (1/2 cup)
Optional: Rice cooker
1. Warm 2 cups of the filtered water in a small saucepan to about body temperature (warm to touch, but not hot).
2. Add the brown rice and the warm water, plus 2 tablespoons of whey, yogurt, kefir or buttermilk to a glass or enamelware bowl or mason jar.
3. Cover and let soak for 24-48 hours in a warm place. (I’ve soaked my rice for as long as 48 hours with no changes to texture or taste.)
4. Cook the rice in rice cooker according to instructions. If you don’t have a rice cooker, put the rice and water in a medium-size saucepan and bring to a boil over medium- high heat. Reduce to low heat and cover the pan.
5. Cook the rice for 45 minutes to one hour — until all the water has been absorbed and the rice is tender.
6. Add the milk, eggs, sweetener, vanilla extract, and salt to a medium mixing bowl and stir until blended.
7. Add the milk mixture and the rice to a medium saucepan on low to medium heat and stir together until it is the consistency you want. Add cinnamon to taste.
8. Serve in a dish, warm or at room temperature and sprinkle with cinnamon and optional extra honey.