Post written by Empar, a United Planet team member.
The arroz con leche (rice with milk) is one of the oldest desserts in Spain. Arroz con leche is prepared all over Spain, with several small regional variations, but the basic ingredients are the same: rice, milk, sugar and lemon or orange peel. It is also possible to find this dessert in other Spanish speaking countries, such as Peru or Costa Rica. In other countries, you often find arroz con leche with other flavors added. In the north of Europe you could eat it as a warm meal instead of as a dessert! But the origin of this dessert comes from the Muslim world and was imported into Spain when the Muslims conquered the South of the Iberian Peninsula.
The ingredients of arroz con leche:
• Rice (1 and a 1/3 cup of 250 ml). Use Spanish type rice (short wide grains).
• Milk (1 gallon)
• Sugar (12-13 full soup spoons)
• Salt (1/2 coffee spoon)
• 4 Lemon zest (only the yellow part of the peel, since the white part is bitter)
• 4 Cinnamon sticks
Peel the lemons and place them in the milk, together with the cinnamon sticks for at least 12 hours (e.g. the night before preparing the rice).
Heat the milk over medium heat) together with the lemon zest and cinnamon sticks until it starts boiling (to get the aroma). Remove the lemon zest and cinnamon sticks, and then add the rice. Cook it for 1/2 hour or until it is well done (you need to stir the rice from time to time, checking it so it doesn’t burn). At the end, add the sugar and the salt (and some more lemon if you want to strengthen its flavor). Stir for 3-4 minutes more, and remove it from the heat. Serve it in a large, shallow glass pan and sprinkle some ground cinnamon on it. Let it cool for about one hour, and then put it in the fridge for at least 12 hours, although one day would be even better for the rice to fully absorb the milk.
Serve the arroz con leche cold. It should be half-liquid, never solid, but you can increase or reduce the amount of milk if you prefer it to be more or less liquid.
And now comes the best part… ENJOY IT!!!