Every now and then, I fall victim to insomnia. My mind starts racing, I toss and turn in my bed, and often, my stomach starts growling. When things like this happen, I know enough to give in, get up and go do something. Some nights, I’ll put on an intriguing movie to get lost in, or I’ll pick up a fascinating novel and read it cover to cover. Other nights, I go into the kitchen and start creating. This is one of those nights.
I love tropical fruits like mangos, bananas, coconuts and pineapple. There’s something so refreshing about biting into a juicy, sweet, chunky piece of fruit, and rich flavorful coconut milk feels like silky cream on my tongue. This is probably why fruit is always in my refrigerator, rice can always be found in my pantry, and lately, all types of coconut products can be found in my home.
When I was a kid, my favorite desserts weren’t cookies and cupcakes, but all the Asian ones: Thai mango and sticky rice, Vietnamese che chuoi (tapioca and banana pudding), Japanese mochi (sticky rice cakes) and Hawaiian haupia (coconut gelatin). [If you follow me on Instagram or Pinterest, you’ll see all my favorite foods and more]. Even in a restless state of mind, I remembered all of my favorite childhood desserts, raided my cupboard and threw together this easy banana and coconut rice pudding. The result is a thick, custard-like dessert, with flavors of coconut, banana and almond to enjoy.
I used Trader Joe’s coconut milk, the kind that comes in a carton and is kept in the refrigerated section of the grocery store. It’s less fattening than the canned milk type and cooks the rice well. Because I love the way almond and coconut mix, I used almond extract, but vanilla will do if that’s what you have on hand. For the rice, I use Calrose premium rice. I like it’s chewy, thick texture, and find it similar to tapioca pearls. The rice cooks quickly, in about 20-25 minutes, and you’ll need to stir it frequently. Towards the end of cooking time, the pudding will thicken quite a bit, so keep your eye on the pot!
This dessert is enjoyable warm or chilled. The aroma of cinnamon and coconut is pretty irresistible, and will offer a nice, soothing fragrance to your home. Sweet, sweet dreams, my friends.
1/2 cup rice, uncooked
2 cups coconut milk (beverage type)
3/4 teaspoons ground cinnamon
2 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon almond extract
1 banana, peeled and split lengthwise, then quartered
- Add the rice, coconut milk, cinnamon and almond extract to a pot over medium high heat. Taste the milk and adjust sweetness or cinnamon as desired. Once the mixture comes to a boil, lower the heat and allow to gently simmer for 20-25 minutes, stirring frequently with a wooden spoon.
- During the last 10 minutes of cooking, add the bananas. Continue to stir to prevent from sticking.
- Allow to cool, then serve warm or chilled.