Monday, August 20, 2012

Coconut Rice Custard

For a commentary-free version of this recipe, go here.

Lately, I’ve had a major sweet tooth.  I’m the kind of gal that, when presented with a sweet treat and a savory treat, I’ll go with savory every time.  Now I can’t get enough sweets!

And before anyone wigs out, I’m currently under doctor’s supervision with my blood being drawn every month.  Right now, there isn’t a medical reason for my sweet cravings.

So I’ve been on the hunt for easy desserts that aren’t super-nauseating sweet.  I came upon this Coconut Rice Custard dish and figured: (a) I like coconut flavored sweets, but not coconut – go figure – and (b) I love rice pudding.  This seemed to be the best of both worlds.

Of course, I seemed to ignore the “easy” portion of my criteria.  Custard is not the easiest thing in the world to make.  It needs to be constantly monitored and involves a hot water bath.  These are things I overlooked as I got started.
© You Want Me to Cook?
Coconut Rice Custard
The whipped cream isn’t part of the custard.  My custard turned out a little dry, probably because I over cooked it slightly.  However, you can see the rice and the custard is still held together well instead of being hard like a rock.

Real Simple
Of course, my custard doesn’t look that far off from Real Simple’s custard.  It doesn’t appear to be creamy, like pudding.  However, this isn’t a great picture from the magazine’s photographers.  It’s hard to tell what the consistency should be with the glare.

It’s a really nice shot of those adorable bowls though.  I wonder where I can buy them?

For more details about what my ratings mean, go to Gretchen’s Rating System

MessEH – There wasn’t much mess from prep.  There were a couple of saucepans and cooking rice gives you a starchy mess, but nothing really needed to be scrubbed.  The real potential for mess comes in making the custard.  I managed to keep it together and NOT spill the custard when pouring it into the 8x8-inch dish, again when moving the VERY FULL dish into the bath and finally moving both the bath and uncooked custard into the oven.  Had it not been for those few steps, I probably would have given the recipe a NADA.

Start-to-Finish Time: A COUPLE OF HOURS – Only about 15 minutes are you actively working on the recipe.  However, watch the custard in the oven closely.  Custard is very finicky and you want to make sure that you don’t overcook it like I did.  You don’t want your custard to be solid and not move at all when you jiggle the pan.

Servings: Real Simple says you should get 4-6 servings out of the 8x8-inch pan, but we got a lot more than that.  We ate it in small bowls with a little fat-free whipped cream on top.  I’d say we got around 8 servings of it.

Prep Work: ALL FINGERS STILL HERE – You luck out with this recipe because normally custards involve you separating a significant number of eggs.  Here, you just have to measure a couple of items and it is mix and go.

Ease of Recipe: MORE THAN I BARGAINED FOR – I had to buy a new dish that would hold my 8x8 baking dish.  Everything I had on hand gave no room between the inner and outer dishes.  Moving the very full dishes around gave me heart palpitations and I did overcook my custard slightly.  In fact, I was reading another custard recipe when I figured out what I did wrong.

OverallYUMMY – As I’ve said a couple times prior, I probably overcooked my custard, but honestly, I’m not sure.  The recipe says “bake until custard is set” and they didn’t tell you what “set” was from their perspective.  As I said above, many other custards give a little jiggle when they are considered set.  We added the whipped cream to each serving and that seemed to soften the custard.  It definitely added something to the custard that it didn’t have before.

Nutritional Information:
I am not a doctor or dietician.  I make my nutritional assessments with the aid of Spark Recipes.  I run the original recipe and my altered recipe through their calorie counter and then compute the differences I find.  My numbers are to be used as a guideline.  Anyone who is under dietary medical supervision should follow the advice of their medical professional if their opinion differs from mine.  PLEASE!
Per Serving:
  • Calories 520
  • Total Fat 32g
  • Saturated Fat 22g
  • Cholesterol 221mg
  • Sodium 115mg
  • Total Carbohydrate 51g
  • Dietary Fiber 0g
  • Sugars 32g
  • Protein 11g
I’m hoping that they computed this as 4 servings, because these are some scary numbers and four servings is A LOT of this dessert.  I used a lite coconut milk and I know we got, at minimum, 6 servings.  Here’s what I came up with when I reran the recipe in my calculator:
  • Calories 531.4
  • Total Fat 21.9 g
  • Saturated Fat 12.6 g
  • Cholesterol 214.2 mg
  • Sodium 122.8 mg
  • Total Carbohydrate 72.1 g
  • Dietary Fiber 0.7 g
  • Sugars 47.3 g
  • Protein 11.2 g
I guess the original was for 6 servings and I’m still unimpressed with these numbers.  The total fat did come down by a third, but it is still extremely high for the portion you get.  Also, the carbs spiked with the sugars being significantly more than what the original recipe stated it had.  Not good for people who are diabetic or have high triglycerides.

You’re going to find everything you need at your local grocery store.

© You Want Me to Cook?
Coconut Rice Custard - ingredients
1 can (13.5-ounce) unsweetened lite coconut milk
1/4 cup water
1/4 cup plus 2/3 cup sugar
1 cup long-grain white rice
3 cups half-and-half
5 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
6 tablespoons canned fat-free whipped cream, divided

Coconut Milk – The original recipe called for unsweetened coconut milk, not the light version.  If you looked at the nutritional information closely, you’ll see that substituting brings down the fat content significantly.

Whipped Cream – I added a tablespoon to each small dish, but this fat-free version makes it a little less painful to add to each serving.


© You Want Me to Cook?
Coconut Rice Custard - equipment
Medium Saucepan with Lid
Large Spoon
Small Saucepan
Large Bowl
8x8-inch Baking Dish
Larger Baking Dish / Larger Roasting Pan
Plastic Wrap (for storing)

8x8-inch Baking Dish Be sure to use a dish and not a metal pan. The eggs can react with metal and affect the taste of your custard.

Large Baking Dish – This needs to be large enough to hold the 8x8-inch baking dish with room on all 4 sides for water to move.  The original recipe states you can also use a large roasting pan - it doesn't matter if you use metal with this piece of equipment.

(1) Heat oven to 325-degrees F.

(2) Bring the coconut milk, water and 1/4 cup of the sugar to a boil in a medium saucepan, about 7 minutes.
The original recipe had you using a small saucepan, but when I went to add the rice, it almost overflowed.  Use a medium saucepan with a lid that properly fits.
(3) Stir in the rice.

(4) Reduce heat, cover and simmer gently until the rice is tender and the liquid is absorbed, about 20 minutes.

(5) Meanwhile, warm the half-and-half in a small saucepan over medium heat, around 10 minutes (do not allow it to boil).
Watch the half-and-half carefully. When you see very tiny bubbles forming along the edge and steam beginning to slowly rise from it, you are done.
(6) Whisk together the eggs, vanilla and the remaining sugar in a medium bowl.

(7) Whisking constantly, slowly pour the warm half-and-half into the egg mixture. Skim off and discard any foam that rises to the surface.

(8) Stir in the cooked rice.

© You Want Me to Cook?
Coconut Rice Custard - custard-rice mixture in dish
(9) Transfer to an 8x8-inch baking dish. Place the dish in a larger baking dish and transfer to oven rack.

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Coconut Rice Custard - custard dish inside larger dish

(10) Carefully add enough hot water to the larger pan to reach halfway up the sides of the smaller dish.
Let the tap run hot while I was pouring the custard into the dish and placing the dish in the larger pan. That should be sufficient. My larger dish was a 9x13 baking dish and it took about 4 cups of water to get the amount stated in the recipe. Keep in mind you may need more if you're using a larger roasting pan. Also be VERY careful NOT to pour any water in the custard.
(11) Bake until the custard is set, about 1 hour 15 minutes. Serve warm or chilled.
The original recipe states it should take about an hour. My custard stopped jiggling after about an hour and fifteen minutes. However, I did a little research and your custard should ripple slightly to be considered "done". Keep this in mind while cooking your custard. I probably cooked my custard a little too long.
Real Simple suggests placing a piece of plastic wrap against the surface of the custard before refrigerating to prevent a skin from forming on top of the custard.
Overall, this is a decent custard that had a faint taste of coconut.  Actually, I was expecting a little more of a coconut taste and was slightly disappointed that it tasted mostly like basic custard.

If I were going to make any changes:
  • I would make whipped cream a permanent part of the recipe.
  • I would dust the custard / whipped cream with a pinch of cinnamon.
  • I would add coconut extract to the recipe, possibly substituting it for the vanilla or maybe doing half coconut, half vanilla.
  • I’m not sure if using the lite coconut milk had anything to do with the recipe being a little tough, but if I were going to make it again, I’d make it with the regular coconut milk.
As I said on the Real Simple website, I can’t say I hated this recipe, but I’m not sure I like it enough to ever make again.  Maybe if someone really wanted it, I would consider it, but I’m not going to do it for myself.

Until next time… happy baking!

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