Serious Sweets: Coconut-Mango Rice Pudding


Arroz con mango. [Photograph: Maria del Mar Sacasa]

Arroz con mango (rice with mango) is a Latin American expression used to describe something messy or mismatched. For example, if you go to a party and find a random assortment of guests there, you'd say it was an arroz con mango. Imagine my surprise when I had mango sticky rice at a Thai restaurant and discovered the combination to be more a match made in heaven than a sloppy mash-up.

I was inspired to adapt the idea to rice pudding. Simmer short-grain Arborio rice in water and coconut milk until the grains become tender and creamy. Arborio's natural starches thicken the pudding and the coconut milk backdrop is redolent of the tropics. There's no room for gloppy cream of coconut here; it will take the rice pudding to suntan lotion territory. Once the rice pudding cools, fold in billowy whipped cream along with sweet cubes of mango.

I know better than anyone that it's the dead of winter. It's been so unbearably bitter in Boston, I'm starting to think of the sweltering Bikram yoga room as a summer getaway. However, I do make this dessert year-round; it's exactly what you want at the end of a heavy meal but perfectly rounds out a light repast. Besides, it's always steamy where I come from.