Because it’s Monday and because we all need a little help to get us through the work week—I don’t know about you, but I’ve already started counting down to the weekend—I bring to you Caramelized Banana Rice Pudding. Cue the music, part the clouds and shine the light directly on us right this very second. This pudding should make these grueling weekdays a tiny bit more bearable, don’t you think? It’s like regular rice pudding but one hundred times better because salted caramel and bananas are involved. I think by now we all know how salted caramel takes everything to the next level. It’s liquid gold is what it is. I don’t have to tell you that, though. You already know this. So why don’t I tell you something you don’t know. Like as a kid I used to beg my mom to make rice pudding all the time. Although, I refused to eat it warm. No way, what am I an animal? I’d have to wait rather impatiently until it got super cold, it was a necessity, and only when it was properly chilled did I go in and eat more than my fair share. As a child I’d douse the top completely with cinnamon. Now as an adult I still refuse to eat it warm, but now instead of cinnamon, I douse it completely with salted caramelized bananas. It just makes perfect sense.
I don’t know if you’re aware of it or not, but I’m no stranger to salted caramel. The two of us go way back. These Salted Caramel Dark Chocolate Cookies are as big as your head and they’re not only filled with caramel but they also get a drizzle of the stuff right out of the oven. Just making it rain down salted caramel. It’s my only goal in life. And because I’m so head over heels obsessed with doughnuts I just had to remind you about these Baked Salted Caramel Chocolate Doughnuts. They will haunt your dreams but in a good way, I promise. Speaking of dreams and caramel and bananas, how could we forget about the ultimate of dessert collaborations that are Chunky Monkey Sticky Buns. If you have yet to make them happen, then you need to remedy that this weekend. Get going on this rice pudding first though, and then move on to the sticky buns. Trust me on this, I know what’s best for you. Don’t give it a second thought. In fact, don’t think about it at all, just go ahead and eat your weight in salted caramel and bananas. It’s what I’m going to do and I won’t regret it.
Can we talk about rice for a second? When it comes to rice pudding, rice is very important. You might think you could use whatever rice you have on hand. You might even have been told somewhere on the internets that you could use whatever rice you have on hand. This might be true (I actually don’t know) but I’ll give you the best piece of advice I can ever give anyone making rice pudding at home. Use arborio rice. It’ll change your life.
**Note: Arborio rice is an Italian short-grain rice that is most commonly used for risotto. When cooked it becomes firm, creamy and chewy. The perfect texture for rice pudding.**
Bring the water to a boil along with a few cinnamon sticks. Stir in the rice, lower the heat and cover. Simmer for about 20 minutes on low. The water will be absorbed and the rice will be tender with still a little bite to it.
**Note: Make sure you DO NOT over cook the rice at this stage because it’s going to continue cooking later in with the milk and then it’ll become way too mushy.**
In a separate pot (or just clean out the one the rice cooked in) combine the milk, sugar, salt and cooked rice. Cook on medium until thick and creamy, about 15 to 20 minutes.
Once thickened, stir in the remaining milk.
**Tip: Make sure you keep stirring constantly while the pudding cooks. You don’t want to walk away because the minute you do, it’ll stick to the bottom of the pan and burn. BURN. You don’t want burnt rice pudding. No one does.**
Quickly stir in the whisked eggs, butter and vanilla. Continue cooking for another minute or two just to get the eggs cooked and the butter melted.
**Tip: To prevent the eggs from cooking and scrambling, slowly stream in the whisked eggs while you stir the pudding.**
Remove the cinnamon sticks and discard and give the pudding that final stir and marvel at the greatest creation you’ve ever made. Maybe even laugh to yourself, giving your shoulder a few pats because you deserve it. You’re a hero. You just made rice pudding.
**Tip: If you like your rice pudding a bit thinner, stir in a splash or two more milk at this point. If not, you can leave it the way it is and it’ll dry out a tad while it cools and sets.**
Cover the pudding and set it off to the side for a few minutes, while you make the salted caramel for the bananas.
Melt the butter in a skillet and stir in the brown sugar. Cook until well combined and completely smooth. Slowly whisk in the heavy cream and continue cooking and whisking until bubbly and light in color, about 5 minutes. Add the sliced bananas and cook for another minute or two. Stir in the salt and bourbon or rum (if using). Cook for a minute longer. Remove from heat and stir in the vanilla extract. Allow to cool slightly.
**Note: When adding the heavy cream to the caramel, you might notice it clump together, don’t panic. Just keep whisking and I promise it’ll breakdown and go back into caramel form. Don’t give up hope.**
Divide the pudding among 8 individual cups or ramekins. Top with the banana slices and caramel. You can spread it out evenly on the top layer or spoon it onto half of the pudding.
**Note: You can also just pour it into one large serving dish if you don’t want to worry about individual servings. Then you can just scoop out the servings when ready to eat.**
You can cover the pudding in plastic wrap at this point and chill, if you like rice pudding cold, or you can serve it right away, if you prefer it warm. I like my rice pudding cold so I wrapped each dish in plastic wrap and allowed them to chill for a few hours.
Right before serving, you can finish it off with crushed vanilla wafer cookies, just like in classic banana pudding. If you want to take things a bit further you can add a dollop of fresh whipped cream on the top. We’ll let the day you’re having decided on that one.
If you’re feeling extra adventurous, feel free to top the pudding with whatever flavors you like. The great thing about this recipe is that now you have an amazing base for rice pudding. Make it a few times and flavor them differently. Add chocolate, raisins, more cinnamon, or nuts if you’d like!
Another alternative for this recipe is that you can totally fold in the bananas and caramel into the rice pudding, instead of just spooning it on top. That might be a great way to do it if you plan on serving it warm as a dessert right after dinner.
I don’t know about you, but I love rice pudding for breakfast. I sometimes ate it first thing in the morning as a kid, and now I get a craving every now and then. Moral of the story is that you can most definitely have this for breakfast instead of cereal or oatmeal. Who wants that? Not when rice pudding is a possibility. Just throwing it out there.
Start the week off right by making a quick batch of this rice pudding. Keep a few ready to go in the fridge so you can just grab a treat after a long day of work. Or if you’re having unexpected guests over for dinner, you’ll have a dessert ready in the fridge. Either way, your best bet is to make this pudding right now. Grab the recipe below and let me know what you think by leaving a comment. Enjoy!
- 1 1/2 cups arborio rice
- 3 cups water
- 4 cinnamon sticks
- 4 cups whole milk
- 2/3 cup light brown sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 2 large eggs, beaten
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1/2 cup light brown sugar
- 1/4 cup heavy cream
- 1 teaspoon coarse salt
- 1 tablespoon bourbon or dark rum (optional)
- 3 medium bananas, thinly sliced
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 cup crushed vanilla wafers
- Bring the water and salt to a boil. Stir in the rice, lower the heat, cover and cook until tender, about 20 minutes.
- In a separate pot, combine 3 cups milk, sugar, salt and cooked rice. Cook over medium heat, stirring often, until thick and creamy, about 15 to 20 minutes. Stir in the remaining milk, and beaten eggs. Cook for another 2 minutes, stirring constantly. Remove from heat and stir in the butter and vanilla extract. Set aside.
- To make the caramelized bananas, melt the butter in a medium skillet. Add the brown sugar and whisk until smooth. Cook until bubbly, about 5 minutes. Whisk in the heavy cream and salt and cook for a minute or two longer. Add the sliced bananas and bourbon or rum (if using) and cook for a minute or two. Remove from heat and stir in the vanilla extract. Allow to cool slightly.
- Divide the pudding (add a splash of milk if too thick) among 8 ramekins or dishes. Top with the caramel and bananas. Cover each with plastic wrap and chill (if you prefer it cold) or serve immediately. Finish off with crushed vanilla wafers right before serving. Enjoy!
- yields: 8 servings