Rice Pudding with Caramelized Apples

French Fridays with Dorie

Rice Pudding with Caramelized Apples

Just the thought of Rice pudding with caramelized apples makes me sick.

Actually the truth is more that when I got sick I would eat rice pudding. Its an association I have a hard time pushing back. Rice pudding was something my mom would make whenever I would get ill and stay home from school. She chose it not so much because I liked it or because I deserved a special treat for surviving a night with vomitous fever; but rather because she felt rice pudding was “easy to digest” — her way of saying I should eat something with better odds of not showing itself again later.

I don’t know the nutritional and medical validity of her strategy but I can say with certainty that somewhere between violently throwing up and reluctantly heading back to school there would always be at least one bowl of rice pudding.

A few years later at high school the cafeteria lunch line rice pudding would take on a more unpleasant association for me. This high school rice pudding was not the delicate vanilla scented, home-style nourishing confection my mother had once made to assuage my bilious constitution. This pudding was a dense, sticky, ill-textured, unnatural yellow blob of putty. Its sole redeeming quality was the ability to sit in the cafeteria reach-in for weeks before the school nurse or Child Protective Services would require its removal and destruction.

I don’t recall anybody ever choosing it to eat this pudding, cups with expiration dates far into the future would sit next to the more appealing items offered. Potato chips, pretzels, popsicles, even the “pizza in a bag”. Nobody ever came for the pudding.

Until the day Barry Hendricks had one handy. As I was walking across the school quad one day he spotted me, threw a container of the rice pudding at the back of my head and screamed “faggot” as loud as he could. Splat. Ouch.

Barry and I had not been in a single class together since the 6th grade and since I wasn’t inclined to hang out behind the bleachers smoking pot all day we didn’t really know each other. I had no idea why he would single me out for bullying or pudding. Barry wasn’t what I would call a very smart guy but he did seem to know I was a faggot four full years before I did.

So there is that I suppose.

Nevertheless, rice pudding wasn’t something I had been keen to experience again.

Rice Pudding with Caramelized Apples

Rice Pudding with Caramel Apples

Gratefully this rice pudding with caramel apples recipe brings to mind none of these unpleasant associations. The pudding is certainly easy enough, makes use of inexpensive ingredients usually has at hand, and even with the apples, took only a few minutes to make. And while it can be a little tricky making caramel at home the most demanding cooking skill involved is stirring with a wooden spoon.

All of which has me wondering just how cafeteria ladies could have fucked it up so badly?

How does the institutionalization of a fine dessert destroy it so thoroughly? Even meatloaf wasn’t that bad. Seriously, if you can’t sell out your rice pudding in three days or less then perhaps you should think about revising your recipe. If students have so little regard for your rice pudding the only thing they find use for it is to hurl it at an unsuspecting student then perhaps it should be eliminated from the menu altogether.

High school is no place for bullies or bad rice pudding. Just the thought of them makes me sick.

Rice Pudding and Caramel Apples

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 40 minutes

Yield: 6 Serviings

Serving Size: 1/6th of the yield, duh.

Fat: Yes a bit but I am working on it.

Rice Pudding and Caramel Apples

The big takeaway for me from this recipe is to use Arborio rice. Seems only obvious that the same rice variety used for risotto would make the creamiest rice pudding but I had not thought of that before.

The original recipe by Dorie Greenspan can be found here

This is what you will need:

    For the pudding:
  • 3 cups water
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup arborio rice or medium-grain white rice
  • 4 cups whole milk
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • For the apples:
  • 2 medium Gala or Fuji apples (13 to 14 ounces total)
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1/2 cup apple cider
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
  • Whipped cream (for topping; optional)

This is how you make it:

    To make the pudding:
  1. Bring 3 cups water and 1/4 teaspoon salt to boil in a large, heavy saucepan. Add the rice and boil for 10 minutes. Drain rice and discard the cooking water. Rinse and wipe out the saucepan.
  2. Combine milk and sugar in the saucepan; bring to boil over medium-high heat, stirring until sugar dissolves. Add the rice; reduce heat to medium and simmer until rice is very tender, most of milk is absorbed, and pudding is thickened but still creamy and reduced to scant 3 cups, stirring occasionally, about 35 minutes (you may need to up this time to 40-45 minutes if you have a lot of liquid after that initial 35 minutes). Remove from heat.
  3. Stir in vanilla extract. Transfer the pudding to a bowl. Press plastic wrap onto surface of pudding to keep a skin from forming; let the pudding cool to room temperature. Refrigerate until cold.
  4. To make the apples:
  5. Peel and core the apples. Cut each into small-medium chunks and set aside.
  6. Combine sugar and lemon juice in medium nonstick skillet. Stir over medium-high heat until sugar dissolves and syrup is medium amber color, occasionally swirling skillet, 3 to 4 minutes.
  7. Remove from heat; add butter to skillet and swirl until melted (mixture may bubble vigorously). Return skillet to medium heat;
  8. add cider and pinch of salt and bring to boil. Add apples and simmer until tender, stirring often, about 6 minutes.
  9. Add 1/2 cup whipping cream and boil until sauce thickens slightly, about 8 to 10 minutes, stirring almost constantly. Transfer apples with caramel sauce to heatproof bowl. Cool caramel apples until lukewarm or room temperature. If you want to use the apples soon after making them, place the bowl in another larger one filled with ice and water to cool faster, or if you have more time, cool them in the fridge.


To serve just layer the pudding with the apples in a parfait glass or mason jar. This is a great do ahead dessert. Both the pudding and the caramel apples can be made 1 day ahead. Cover and refrigerate. The pudding can be served chilled or allowed to come down to room temp. Stir the apples over medium heat until just warm before using, or serve room temperature, or even cold if you prefer. Never throw the pudding at anybody in a homophobic rage.


This Rice Pudding with Caramelized Apples recipe was an assignment for French Friday’s with Dorie, a cooking group working its way through Dorie Greenspan’s culinary tome “Around My French Table”. We generally avoid including the recipes in our posts. However, wherever there has been a significant adaptation by me or where the recipe has already been publicly posted by Ms. Greenspan or her publishers or by hundreds of other bloggers who adore her as much as I do, I will either include it here (only when adapted) or provide a direct link to it. Please feel free to contact me via the link provided on my page if you need any assistance finding a French Friday with Dorie Recipe. You really should buy the book though.

It will change your life as it has mine.


About Trevor Kensey

To be truthful, I don't know what “Sis. Boom. [blog!]" means either. The name implies something explosive just happened I suppose I would like it if each post would make made a small 'boom' in your day or at least a fizzle. Even though a recipe is included with every post I have a hard time calling this a "food blog" or even myself a "food blogger".

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  1. Wow, that is quite a series of negative associations. I wouldn’t blame you if you never tried this recipe at all. I’m glad you’re glad you did, though! I still haven’t gotten to this one, though I KNOW I’ll like it, since I’m a fan of rice pudding to begin with. If I trusted myself not to eat the entire recipe’s worth, I might hop to it a little faster.

    • Luckily rice pudding seems to have the ability to keep much longer than it is welcome. I do hope you try it but please, please don’t throw it at anybody.

  2. You should have force-fed Barry Hendricks the rice pudding from your cafeteria.

    That being said, I’m not a fan of rice pudding either, but one place that does it for me is in NYC! Rice to Riches. Not bad. Not bad at all.

    • Dear. I resisted the urge to share “the rest of the story” on this one. Suffice it to say there is one but it does not involve rice pudding but does involve the rest of his miserable, stinking, and unnaturally short life…and mine rather happy one. 🙂

  3. God, you are looking so fancy over here!

    I do not at all remember that rice pudding. Possibly because I was too busy with the cinnamon rolls. Can you believe I ate one EVERY MORNING for four years?? The calories . . .

  4. Every chance I get I tell everyone it is all your fault. Because it is. This. Is. Your. Fault. Oh…and the cinnamon roll was a much better choice than the coffee cake with melted butter, don’t you think?

  5. My elementary school had more than its fair share of bullies, none of whom made it as far as high school graduation. I’d hate to think what’s happened to them since, but I’m just glad they weren’t around for senior high.

    Rice pudding, on the other hand, has no negative associations for me. We had it as a dessert growing up, not a remedy, though I’ve steered clear of a dubious cup or two in cafeteria lines.

  6. Wow, I skipped this dish and made Marie-Helene cake, just because no one in my family, including me, like rice pudding. Very brave of you to face this memory, and this post confirms: You are the David Sederis of Food blogging. I was both sad and laughing while reading it.

    • Dear Diane, to be the David Sedaris of food blogging is a lofty compliment indeed and if I only deserve it by as much as 5% then I would say that I succeeded way beyond the dreams of Barry… who is now dead, actually.

  7. Bullies and bad rice pudding do not belong anywhere…EVER!

    As a mom of four, I know firsthand that we try to find the perfect ‘comfort food’ when our kids are sick. It is a shame that something as creamy as delicious as rice pudding is associated with so many miserable memories.

    I am VERY glad that you found and made such a decadently yummy recipe to try!! Kudos!!!

  8. I have always loved rice pudding! Yours came out beautifully! I made this late and still haven’t posted it…but really loved the caramel apples.
    I’m sorry that the rice pudding had so many bad memories associated with it! I just don’t, for the life of me, understand bulling! It’s become such an epidemic…but I remember it going on when I was in school, just not as fierce as it is with the internet. Children who are bright, sensitive and march to the beat of their own drum are always a target! What makes some kids so mean?

  9. I wouldn’t waste another thought on weird Barry Hendricks. I like you heaps better than him – with or without his bucket of pudding.

    Like you, I’ve never been a fan of rice pudding and my experience was with the nuns at school. The first time they served it, I refused to eat it and sat at a table in the cafeteria for the entire day as punishment. I stared at that pudding for hours. One nun even tried to push a spoonful into my tightly clamped lips to no success.

    I think it’s okay not to like things as long as you don’t throw them at anyone. 🙂

  10. 1) Barry was an a##-wipe
    2) All cafeteria ladies should be reported to CPS for cruel and unusual acts to children (except for my Grandma Rockwell – who was a school cook – her former students said she made the best lunches – back in the 50’s & 60’s, though…)
    3) Life usually has a way of balancing itself out, doesn’t it? I wouldn’t trade one day of my life for the one of the kid who used to hit me over the head with a baseball bat on the bus because of the school I went to. (Who, I believe, is now sitting in a correctional facility somewhere – shocker…); Karma is a beotch.

  11. Mt schools had bullies too. Though back in the fifties and sixties, somehow how the situation was not as bad as it is today. I really am sorry you went through it. That fellow sounds like kids I knew too. Bullies, cowards, small minded people, one and all.

    I never liked rice pudding as s kid. My mom never made it – so I did not have any real negative associations, per se. It was just the look of it that bothered me, and being an exceedingly picky eater, I never even tried it until I wised up somewhere in my twenties and discovered how delectable it can really be. This one sounds fab.

    And by the way, I did not find anything about this post objectionable – except perhaps the fact that you were bullied as a kid. That made me sad, and I am sorry you had to deal with it. I call it both a pleasure and an honor to call you friend.

  12. Every school has a Barry, luckily they tend to turn out badly in the end. Assholes.
    That said, I have never been a fan of rice pudding. Or any sort of pudding really. It could be because in my middle school it was the fashion to call a certain part of the female anatomy “puddin'”
    So … wasn’t really all that appealing to me. (For 1 in 10 girls, however, this increased the appeal.)

  13. Wow-I really don’t like rice pudding, in my humble opinion rice doesn’t belong in pudding. period. I’ve always thought of rice pudding as a dessert for stuck up people, especially when they put certain spices into the pudding.
    But, having said that-I really do like your photos-you have shown it off quite nicely.