Literally translated, arroz con dulce means sweet rice, which is a fairly accurate description. The best way to explain this dish is that it’s a sweet rice pudding with coconut, raisins, and spices that we normally associate with the holidays – cinnamon, ginger, cloves, etc. Arroz con dulce is a traditional Christmas dessert in Puerto Rico and several other islands, but you really can make it any time of year.
This is a forgiving recipe that can easily be tweaked to your tastes. For example, as you will see in the recipe below, I like to star anise. Some people like to add a little orange extract and others like to use currants or dried cranberries in place of raisins. It’s very easy to add your special touch and make it your own.
For best results use whole spices and fresh ginger. But, if they aren’t available to you, you can use ground spices. Also, use medium or short grain rice, not long grain.
- 3 cups of water (to steep the spices in)
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 2 to 3 cinnamon sticks
- 6 whole cloves
- 1 piece of ginger (about 1 inch, peeled and sliced)
- 1 can of coconut milk (14 ounces)
- 1 cup of water (to cook the rice in)
- 1 cup of medium or short grain rice
- 1/2 cup golden raisins
- 1/4 cup sweetened coconut flakes
- 1/2 cup white cane sugar (or brown sugar)
- In a large saucepan or pot, bring 3 cups of water to a simmer. Add the salt, cinnamon sticks, whole cloves, and ginger pieces. Simmer for about 15 minutes until the flavors are infused into the water. Remove the spices and save the infused water.
- Put the infused water back into the saucepan or pot. Add the coconut milk and 1 cup of water. Bring to a boil.
- Add the remaining ingredients and thoroughly stir. Reduce the heat to a simmer, cover and cook for twenty minutes. You will have to stir it a couple times.
- After 20 minutes, remove the lid and stir. Continue to cook for another 15 minutes or until the rice is cooked through and creamy. The water should be absorbed.
- If the water is absorbed, but the rice is still not cooked, add a little hot water (about 1/4 cup) at a time and continue to cook until done.
- When the rice is cooked, pour into your serving dish or dishes. Allow to cool and place in the refrigerator until ready to serve. Garnish before serving.
Cook’s Notes for Arroz Con Dulce
- This isn’t a recipe you can leave unattended to cook. It will need stirring to keep it from sticking and burning in the pan.
- It’s meant to be served cold. Before refrigerating put the rice in your serving dish or individual dessert cups.
- The amounts of spices are flexible, so feel free to adjust them to your preferences.
- Save a few cinnamon sticks, star anise, or raisins for garnish. You can also garnish with a little ground cinnamon sprinkled on top.