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Can This Rice Pudding Be Saved?

My husband wants me to make the Horn and Hardarts version of rice pudding. I've made it twice now, and it won't thicken properly. Any advise on what I am doing wrong? Can I fix it, or do I start over? The recipe calls for 2 cups cooked rice. Four cups of scalded milk, with sugar added. Then add 8 beaten eggs slowly to the milk. It says stir til thickened, about 5 minutes. Except, it doesn't thicken after 5 minutes,,,Then I'm supposed to add the cooked rice, then let it set up in a 13x9 pan. It doesn't thicken up then either. So what am I doing wrong?

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  1. I'm thinking that it just needs a lot longer than 5 minutes to thicken. I'm thinking more like 10, especially for that much milk. I just made a double batch of vanilla pudding (which is essentially what the base of rice pudding is) and it had about 4 C of milk and it took about 10 minutes. And you're going to be looking for the pudding mixture to coat the back of your spoon quite thickly, but it will still run off. It will set up more once it's completely chilled.

    I'm not sure if you can "over thicken"??? does anyone know? I always just keep cooking it until I'm satisfied with the thickness. Will it break at some point?

    Also, make sure you temper the eggs - dont' know if your recipe mentions that. It won't affect your thickening, but if you don't do it, you can end up with cooked egg in your pudding! To temper (if you're not sure how), just add a little of the hot milk to the eggs, mix well, add a little more, mix well, and then add the now tempered eggs back into the saucepan. :-)

    I have never tried to thicken an already assembled rice pudding, so don't know if you can save it or not. ?? Not sure what happens to the chemistry of the ingredients once it's off the heat.

    2 Replies
    1. re: Scirocco

      Just had another thought too..... what kind of milk did you use? I always use whole milk for puddings, but I think 2% may work fairly well too. The less fat, the more difficult it is to turn into a thickened consistency.

      1. re: Scirocco

        Instead of 'over thickening', you'll get scrambled eggs if you cook your custard too long - that is, if it goes much above 170F.

        Two eggs per cup of milk should be provide plenty of thickening.

        BTW, if the recipes says cook until thick, about 5 minutes, that is telling you to cook until you see the desired result, and the time is only an estimate. Some people are comfortable cooking custards over high heat and watching it carefully for 2 minutes, some people will go super low and stand there stirring for 20 minutes. The key is to understand what result you are looking for, then to not stop until you achieve it.

      2. You know, you could also bake it. It's already in a pan after all. I just remembered it, but my mother used to make baked rice desert.

        1. Before you add the rice, you are producing a stove top egg custard (creme anglaise). You might want look at some recipes for that to check the times and procedures.

          The rice pudding that I'm used to making derives most of its thickening from the rice, so calls for a half hour (or so) of cooking after combining cooked rice and milk. Eggs give extra richness.


          1 Reply
          1. re: paulj

            This is a good tip and link. Sounds like your eggs weren't cooked long enough to provide thickening power. Five minutes isn't enough. And, IRT to thickness, the custard or creme anglaise when it's fully thickened in the pan will still only be thick enough to coat the back of a wooden spoon. It won't be thick like a gravy. After the custard is off the heat, the rice and the chilling will make the pudding set.

            You may also want to read this thread about your problem
            Runny Creme Anglaise

            If you have access to Harold McGee's On Food and Cooking: The Science and Lore of the Kitchen, there's a very helpful passage in that book on cooking custard.

          2. I have a somewhat similar recipe I use all the time. It uses only egg yolks though, and a bit of cornstarch mixed with the sugar and rice. I don't worry about using whole milk, but there is less milk than your recipe. I can post it if you like, but I would definitely try getting rid of a lot of the egg white in your custard.

            1 Reply
            1. re: malvern girl

              2 cups of milk plus the water used to cook the 1 cup of rice is a common quantity for a rice pudding without eggs.

            2. ChrissyMc, did you ever get the recipe to work? I have been dying to taste that old recipe for 40 years! My wife is a good cook, but hates rice pudding, so she doesn't want to try to make it. I would do it myself, but the recipe put me off a little. But i would try if you found a way to make your recipe work. I can't tell you how much I loved that rice pudding. My grandmother took me to H and H on City LIne when i was a puppy, and she would buy containers of it to go after I had it for desert at the restaurant.

              1 Reply
              1. re: steelydad

                This H&H recipes as written by the original poster will not work. By cooking the egg and milk on top of the stove without any kind of starch thickener (rice, cornstarch, flour, etc) will either yield a custard sauce (creme Anglaise that will never be thick enough no matter how long one let it set) or if cooked longer yield scrambled egg. I would mixed some flour or cornstarch (1/4 cup would be enough for 4 cups of milk) with the eggs and cook the mixture with the scalded milk until thicken. With the flour or cornstarch, one can cook this mixture to a boil and longer without scrambling the eggs.

              2. That doesn't sound like any rice pudding my mother ever made... she taught me that you start with cooked rice and milk in the pan and you cook it slowly on the stove, stirring often, until it thickens up by itself. You can add a couple of eggs at the end for extra richness, but they're not essential - all the thickening comes from the starch in the rice. The recipe you're talking about sounds like a custard with rice granules suspended in it, and it doesn't sound very appetising.

                1 Reply
                1. re: Kajikit

                  Steelydad, I finally gave up on the H&H recipe. I followed everyones suggestions and it worked out...I just thought it was too much work for an 'okay' result. I finally did find a great rice pudding recipe from Emeril. I don't like rice pudding, so it all tastes 'okay' to me, but everyone thats tasted the Emeril recipe really liked it.
                  Thank you everyone for all your advice and suggestions!

                2. I'm several months late on this but does your recipe call for 8 beaten whole eggs, or 8 beaten egg yolks? I've never heard of a rice pudding recipe calling for whole eggs . . . but then I don't know everything . . . Try it with just the egg yolks, following Scirocco's advice (below) re tempering the eggs. After adding the egg yolks to the hot milk, put the pan back on the burner, keeping the heat very low and keep stirring until it starts to thicken up. If that doesn't do it, maybe you've got a kitchen gremlin that likes to mess with your head. Anyway, best of luck and let us know what happens.

                  1. Chrissy, I'm not sure if you will still be reading this posting because you posted so long ago. Also not certain about what the Horn and Hardart's version of rice pudding is like, but here are some suggestions. I'm also not sure where you found this recipe, but the ratios are all wrong. 2 cups is WAY too much rice for 4 cups of milk. I would also omit the eggs entirely.

                    Maybe you'd like to try this recipe instead.

                    6 cups whole milk
                    2/3 cup long grain white rice (raw)
                    1/2 to 2/3 cup sugar depending on your preference
                    1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
                    1/4 cup cinnamon and or nutmeg
                    Zest of one orange - optional

                    Heat the milk in covered saucepan over moderate heat for 5-10 minutes but do not boil. Try not to let milk boil over. Add rice, reduce heat, and stir with fork every few minutes to prevent rice from settling. Cook in covered saucepan over low heat with lid tilted for about 40 minutes or until the rice thickens and the milk cooks down. When the mixture is thick and creamy, remove the rice/ milk mixture and stir in the remaining ingredients. The pudding will thicken further as it cools. I hope this was helpful.