baked rice pudding questions
It's raining here, again, so it feels like rice pudding weather. I've actually never made the baked kind and I want to try. First question -- my recipe calls for 1/4 c of butter (to stir into the simmering rice & milk). Can I leave it out or sub a mixture of canola & walnut oil? (I don't eat dairy; I'm using soy milk). Second question is -- the recipe calls for 1 tsp of vanilla. I have 2 fresh vanilla beans that I'd like to use. Should I open the bean, scrape the seeds and simmer the bean? Is one enough or should I use two? Or isn't it worth it? Finally, I'm a bit worried about the process of mixing the warmed milk/rice into the eggs. How do you prevent them from scrambling? Thanks!
Follow-up: it came out nice...but the vanilla flavor wasn't prominent enough, so I might try more/longer next time or maybe switch to almond extract. Also, the recipe said to test doneness by seeing if a knife came out clean...it did, but there was water (?) underneath the top layer of the pudding after I scooped some out. Maybe I didn't cook it long enough?
I believe you could leave the butter out and substitute, at a ratio of about .75:1, vegetable shortening, and IMO Canola oil may be the best choice due to it's relatively modest influence on flavor. You don't need much vanilla bean to replace a tsp. of vanilla extract. A couple inches of vanilla bean (opened and scraped into the main ingredients) should be plenty. Just try to avoid adding the vanilla when the mixture is at its highest temperature - vanilla can tend to get bitter when overheated.
At the point where the eggs are introduced, cool a small amount of your heated ingredients slightly, keep the egg mixture moving and add your warm ingredients in VERY small amounts in several steps. Continue, adding VERY small amounts of your warmed ingredients progressively until it's all incorporated.