ARROZ CON LECHE : Rice pudding with cinnamon
This rich, creamy rice pudding is gently flavored by a small piece of true Saigon cinnamon bark, which is milder and sweeter than the cassia cinnamon used north of the border.
Cinnamon figures prominently in both sweet and savory Mexican cooking. Every marketplace sells big bundles of rolled cinnamon bark quills, which are steeped in dark syrup for candied sweets, brewed with coffee to make café de olla, or toasted and ground for moles and asados.
The cinnamon will turn the rice a pale caramel color as it cooks. If you like raisins in your rice pudding, add them for the last hour of cooking.
¾ cup short-grain Arborio rice
1 cup heavy cream or evaporated milk
3 cups whole milk
⅛ teaspoon kosher salt
⅓ cup agave syrup
3 tablespoons sugar
1-inch piece Saigon cinnamon stick
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
SWEETENED WHIPPED CREAM
1 cup heavy whipping cream, chilled
2 tablespoons confectioners’ sugar
To make the arroz con leche, combine all the ingredients except for the vanilla in a 4- or 5- quart slow cooker and stir to combine. Cover and cook on low for 2½ hours, gently but thoroughly stirring the rice about every 30 minutes. When the rice is cooked, stir in the vanilla and remove the cinnamon stick. The pudding will thicken as it cools.
To make the sweetened whipped cream, pour the cream into a bowl. With an electric hand mixer or a stand mixer, beat the cream at medium speed until it begins to thicken, 3 to 5 minutes. Add the sugar and beat on medium-high speed until the mixture is thick and holds its shape.
Serve warm or cold, topped with a dollop of whipped cream.