As a child, waking up on a Sunday morning to the sweet smell of rice slowly cooking in milk and sugar meant we were having guests for lunch. It also meant that once the rice was ready to be plated, my mother would fill two bowls for my sister and I, pinch cinnamon between her fingers and proceed to crookedly write our names on each bowl. My sister would take her bowl and immediately indulge in her warm sweet breakfast. Since I have always preferred my arroz doce to be cold, I would place my bowl in the refrigerator and begin the nearly unbearable wait for it to firm up and cool down—occasionally opening the door to check on the progress by stealing a spoonful.
Arroz Doce (rice pudding or sweet rice) is a recipe that has been handed down from mother to daughter throughout Portuguese families for hundreds of years, with very few alterations.
This version was brought to Canada 45 years ago from the Minho region of Portugal via France and currently resides in the kitchen of Rosa Dantas. Rosa grew up poor in rural Portugal at a time when school was not mandatory for girls. They would stay home and tend to livestock, help around the house and of course, cook. During Christmas and Easter celebrations Arroz Doce was cooked up as a special treat for the family.
Today, Rosa has four children and eight grandchildren, who all sit around the table at Christmas laughing and wondering why she has prepared so much food, before proceeding to scarf down as many of the homemade delicacies as possible. Each year, the empty platter reinforces Arroz Doce as the fan favourite, and of course makes Rosa smile with satisfaction.
3 cups of water
1 tsp of salt
1 lemon (peel only) Avoid as much of the white pith as possible
2 cups of white rice
3 cups of hot milk
2 cups of sugar
4 egg yolks (whisked)
Bring water, lemon rind and salt to a boil.
Add rice and bring it back to a boil.
Reduce to a simmer for about 10 minutes, until the water is absorbed.
While stirring, slowly add hot milk.
Let the rice cook for 25-30 minutes. Stir frequently and keep the heat low to prevent the rice from burning at the bottom of the pan.
Add sugar and stir.
Pour egg yolks into the pot through a strainer and stir well.
Stir in the butter.
Remove pot from heat and let it rest for 10 minutes.
Ladle the rice into dish(es).
Sprinkle cinnamon in a design of your choice and enjoy.