Arroz con leche, a beloved dessert enjoyed throughout Latin America, is deeply rooted in the culture and culinary traditions of Costa Rica. This creamy rice pudding holds a special place in the hearts of Costa Ricans and is often associated with celebrations and gatherings.
The beauty of arroz con leche lies in its simplicity and versatility. Each family in Costa Rica may have its own unique twist on this classic recipe, whether it's adding raisins, pineapple, a dash of vanilla, or a sprinkle of nutmeg. While it's a delightful dessert, it's also a reflection of the warm and welcoming nature of Costa Rican hospitality.
In Costa Rica, arroz con leche is typically enjoyed with a steaming cup of coffee or agua dulce, and always in the company of loved ones. To bring a taste of this Costa Rican tradition to your classroom, here's a family recipe hailing from San Ramon, Costa Rica:
Margarine or butter (optional)
Granulated white sugar
Sweetened condensed milk
Pinch of salt
In a large saucepan, combine the rice, margarine, 3.5 cups of water, a cinnamon stick, and whole cloves.
Boil the mixture over high heat until the water evaporates, stirring occasionally to prevent sticking.
Add granulated white sugar, sweetened condensed milk, and evaporated milk to taste, along with a pinch of salt, lime zest, and a touch of vanilla extract.
If desired, incorporate raisins for a burst of fruity flavor.
Serve your arroz con leche warm, garnished with a sprinkle of ground cinnamon or nutmeg.
Coconut milk can be used in place of evaporated milk.
You can opt for butter instead of margarine, or omit it altogether.
Feel free to experiment with different citrus zests, such as orange, lemon, or grapefruit.
While any type of rice can be used, Thai Jasmine rice closely resembles the rice used in Costa Rican kitchens.
Variations: During my last visit to Costa Rica, I discovered that there are two ways to prepare arroz con leche: "seco" and "aguado." Our family prefers "seco," where the rice absorbs almost all the liquid and develops a crispy texture. "Aguado" is the alternative, allowing for a slightly more liquid consistency. To achieve this, simply cook the rice pudding for a shorter duration, ensuring that not all the liquid is absorbed before removing it from the heat.
Serving Suggestions: Arroz con leche is traditionally served warm in small bowls. However, if you prepare it in advance for a gathering, it can be chilled in the refrigerator for up to a week and served cold.
This delightful dessert not only brings a taste of Costa Rica to your class but also offers a cultural experience that's sweet and memorable. Enjoy!
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