March is a trickster of a month. I find myself prematurely anticipating the weak warmth of spring, only to be blasted with the ice and bluster of a seemingly perpetual winter. Like all transitional months, March is unpredictable and the seasonal markers are hard to pin down. If it’s a particularly warm year we might see the woodland peppered with green shoots before the month is up but when the arctic winds persist we find ourselves waiting until mid-April for stirrings of life anew.
By this point I’m usually rather underwhelmed by the novelty of winter. I have indulged myself in hot chocolate and candlelight to the extent that I am craving long days and sunlight. I will never be underwhelmed by cake but, as the season promises to turn, I start to daydream about the scents and sounds of warmer climes. My palette craves a taste of things to come; sunshine by the way of the stovetop, spoonfuls of warmth when there is none to be found outside.
With this in mind I put my cake pans away and seek comfort from something distinctly more tropical. Rice pudding has always been a favourite of mine, whether from Ambrosia tins or baked in the oven with a nutmeg skin; it is nursery food in its entirety. Using coconut milk is a recent discovery and a current obsession. The thick milk renders the rice intensely creamy, a small bowl is enough to sweeten even the bitterest of March days. The addition of a mango coulis is my answer to the obligatory dollop of jam. If, like me, you keep chopped fruit and stashes of berries in the freezer, then you can whip this sauce up any time in a clatter of golden cubes. I like to add a splash of maple syrup for smoky depth but, if you happen to be in possession of a particularly ripe mango, a simple bit of pureeing will do. Serve the rice pudding warm and velvety from the pan and generously drizzled with the perfumed sauce. Eat it whilst gazing out at the blustery weather and know that, until spring arrives, you hold a little bowl of paradise in your palms.
Coconut Rice Pudding with Mango Coulis
100g pudding rice
250ml coconut milk
250ml milk (or dairy free alternative)
3tbsp demerara sugar
1 vanilla pod (optional)
For the coulis:
300g ripe mango, peeled and chopped
1-2tbsp maple syrup, to taste
Shredded or flaked coconut, lightly toasted in a pan
- Add the rice, coconut milk, milk, vanilla pod and sugar to a medium-sized saucepan.
- De-seed the vanilla pod (if using) and add the seeds and empty pod to the mixture.
- Bring the mixture to a boil and then immediately turn down to a very low heat.
- Allow the mixture to cook very gently for 20-25 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- Remove the pan from the heat and cover with the lid. Leave for 5 minutes.
- Using a blender or food processor, puree the mango until smooth. Add a little maple syrup for sweetness if necessary.
- Serve the rice pudding warm, topped with a little mango coulis and a scattering of lightly toasted coconut.