It’s the weekend and after a few chores on Saturday you look at your calendar and realise Sunday is mostly clear. You can have a sleep in under clean sheets, watch The Simpsons with your breakfast, and take an easy stroll. It’s also the day to make the most of the cosy indoors and treat yourself to a delicious, warming dessert.
First though: tamarindo candy! I’ve got to explain the magic of this stuff, it makes my mouth water just thinking about it… I first came across these little balls of fruity candy in Bristol’s Sweet Mart, and was blown away by the sweet, sour and hot taste of each tiny little ball! Turns out it’s a treat in most places where the tamarind tree is indigenous: countries in Africa and South Asia (and Mexico, though it was introduced there in the 16th century).
I figured there had to be a glut of unusual ingredients in there, but after a little research I realised all tat taste just required were three simple ingredients: tamarind paste, sugar and something spicy. If you want to buy tamarind candy you can. If you want to be a little healthier and use coconut sugar, you can. Play with the amount of spice too – that box of candies I got at the grocers must have had at least two tablespoons of cayenne pepper in it!
The idea for the rice pudding came from a spicy hot chocolate drink we served at The Mighty Food Fight around Christmas time last year, and we loved it with loads of cayenne pepper, a little bit of a surprise for the people who thought they were getting a regular cocoa drink!
I love the combination of chocolate and spices, it’s an obvious winter warmer, but it’s also reminiscent of the famous Mayan drinking chocolate, served when chocolate was food of the gods (the scientific name for the cacao tree is Theobroma cacao, which literally means this). Of course I believe this continues to be a truth, and so chocolate has got to feature in at least a fifth of all desserts I’ve ever eaten.
Combining chocolate with rich coconut milk and almond milk results in a heavenly, creamy rice pudding. Expect a rich, sticky pudding from this recipe, and also expect to want this as breakfast in bed on cold winter mornings.
Hot Chocolate Rice Pudding with Tamarindo Candy
For the tamarindo candy
100g tamarind paste
200g sugar (reserve a few tablespoons for rolling the candies)
1 tsp cayenne pepper (or more to taste! I would have at least 3tsp, ha!)
0.25 tsp salt
For the hot chocolate pudding
100g pudding rice
400ml almond milk
400ml coconut milk
2 tbsp maple syrup
25g cocoa powder
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 tsp ground cinnamon
0.25 tsp nutmeg
0.5 tsp ginger
Pinch of cardamom
Pinch of cayenne pepper (or more to taste)
THE NUTS + BOLTS
For the tamarindo candy
- Simply mix the tamarind paste with the sugar, cayenne pepper and salt, until you have a dough (you may ned to add more sugar depending on the texture of the paste).
- Using your hand pinch out teaspoon-sized balls of the dough and roll in the extra sugar.
- Refrigerate the candies until ready to serve.
For the hot chocolate rice pudding
- Stir the pudding rice into the almond milk and bring to the boil.
- Reduce heat to a medium simmer and add the remaining ingredients, whisking to combine.
- Simmer for 30 minutes, whilst stirring frequently, so that the rice absorbs all of the liquid and doesn’t stick to the pan.
- Transfer to individual dishes and refrigerate until ready to serve.
- Dust with ground cinnamon or top with chocolate shavings before adding the tamarindo candy and serving.