July 15, 2007

Arroz con leche

Filed under: Cooking,daily life,Other things I love — Cristina de Prada @ 9:22 pm

Arroz con leche

Arroz con leche is a traditional Spanish dessert, and it’s my mother’s favorite. It’s an easy dessert to make but very often it’s done badly in restaurants and at home. Done right it’s just heaven and it brings me back to my childhood.

These are the ingredients (you can halve the ingredients if you want to make less):

  • 3 liters of fresh whole milk
  • 230 grams of round rice (washed twice under the tap and drained)
  • 250 grams of caster (white) sugar
  • 2 sticks (aprox. 10 cm each) of cinnamon
  • Strips of lemon peel from one lemon (use a tomato peeler to make thin strips)
  • 50 grams of butter diced
  • 2 egg yolks, lightly beaten and dissolved with 4 tablespoons of cold milk
  • powdered cinnamon for serving

ingredients for arroz con leche

Warning: Arroz con leche requires 100% of your time for close to one hour, so have all ingredientes ready and next to you, get a high chair (perhaps the telephone, it’s a good opportunity for a long conversation) and be patient.

Put the milk in a big pan with the cinnamon and lemon peel inside. Slowly bring it to a simmer (keep an eye on it as it gets hotter because it will overflow if you let it boil). Then add the rice to the milk and start gently stirring (scraping the bottom). You must stir CONTINUOUSLY, otherwise it doesn’t work. The continuous stir is what makes this happen. In the meanwhile you have to keep it at a simmer or low bowling.

Aftern 20 minutes of stirring add the sugar, and yes, you guessed it, keep on stirring for approximately another 20 minutes. After those 20 minutes (you’ve been at it for 40 minutes in total), the rice will have swollen and it will be kind of floating in the milk. The whole thing will also feel denser. If before that you think the whole thing is too thick then stop early, if you think it’s still to thin, then give it a few more minutes. The time it needs depends very much on different factors, so it’s a matter of trial an error, but 40 minutes should be ok.

Turn the gas off and stir in the butter. Once the butter has melted and dissolved in the rice mixture then add the egg yolk. It’s important to add it slowly in a thin thread while stirring hard, otherwise you will get cooked threads of yolk in the finished product.

Congratulations, your arroz con leche is now ready. Pour it into a bowl and let it cool. To avoid a skin forming on top cover it (in contact with the pudding ) with cling film. When cool, move it to the fridge, and when you decide to serve it, just ladle it into bowls and sprinkle with cinnamon. Some people like to take out the lemon peel after it’s cooked, because it gives a bitter taste to the rice that has been in contact, but I like to leave it there.

If you try it, let me know how it goes, and if you have any questions let me know! I also would like to know if in your neck of the woods there is a similar desert and how it’s made.


  1. So that’s your recipe! You make it the way they prepare it in Asturias, the place in Spain where arroz con leche is better made. There, they serve it with a layer of burnt sugar, like if it was creme brulée or crema catalana. They call this way “requemao” and it’s delicious!

    Comment by Prima — July 16, 2007 @ 8:42 am

  2. Well, it’s funny that you say that, because I had thought about using my kitchen torch to caramelise some sugar on top of it. You must agree that often what you eat out there is undercooked rice, and simply too liquid… really dificult to get the good thing. 230 grams of rice for 3 liters of milk might seem to little, but it’s the right amount.

    Comment by cristinadeprada — July 16, 2007 @ 2:22 pm

  3. By all means, do it! I mean the torch thing. A layer of burnt sugar over lots of creamy, sweet arroz con leche is absolutely yummy!

    Comment by Prima — July 16, 2007 @ 4:00 pm

  4. Dear Christina

    Greetings from South Africa. Your brother, Jose – a dear friend who is staying with us while he visits South Africa – sent me your blog which I have been reading with great enjoyment. He told us about the troubles your mother was having with her in-laws (aren’t families crazy…why can’t people LET GO!) so I was delighted to read your piece about the book and your parents. I love your hats and am awe-struck by your talents. Unfortunately I’m not a hat person – my hair is too thick and I’ve never got a hat to stay on my head for length of time. My aunt who died some thirty years ago was a milliner and I remember how deftly she worked with the fabrics and the felt.

    What a treat it was to come across your wonderful recipe which is a great improvement on the English rice pudding. I’ll definitely try it out when I have a chance.

    All the best

    Tanya Barben (from Cape Town)

    Comment by Tanya Barben — November 3, 2008 @ 10:19 am

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