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Coconut Rice Pudding with Gingered Asian Pears

Asian pears taste of a cross between apples and traditional pears, but with fresh hints of pine and a distinct grittiness. Chunks of the crisp fruit, accented by spicy fresh ginger, add a refreshing quality to this rice pudding that is rich and creamy with half-and-half and coconut milk.

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 cups basmati rice
  • 4 cups half-and-half
  • 1 can (14 fl. oz.) unsweetened coconut milk
  • 1 cup sugar
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1 1/2 cups unsweetened coconut flakes
  • 2 Asian pears
  • 1-inch piece fresh ginger, peeled and grated
  • 2 Tbs. firmly packed light brown sugar

Directions:

In a large saucepan over high heat, combine the rice, 3 1/2 cups of the half-and-half, the coconut milk, sugar and salt and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium-low, cover and cook, stirring once or twice, until the rice is tender, 20 to 30 minutes. Set aside to cool slightly or refrigerate; the rice pudding can be served warm, at room temperature or cold.

Preheat an oven to 375°F.

Place the coconut on a rimmed baking sheet and bake until fragrant and golden, 6 to 8 minutes, stirring halfway through the baking time. Transfer to a small bowl and let cool.

When ready to serve, peel, halve and core the Asian pears, then cut them into 1/2-inch cubes. Place the pears in a bowl, add the ginger and brown sugar and toss gently to coat.

Stir the remaining 1/2 cup half-and-half into the rice pudding. Spoon the pudding into bowls, top with the pears and sprinkle with the toasted coconut flakes. Serve immediately. Serves 8.

Adapted from Williams-Sonoma New Flavors for Desserts, by Raquel Pelzel (Oxmoor House, 2008).