Visions of Coco Danced in My Head

The Puerto Rican and Central American flavors and traditions that color my world.

I admit it. I've stolen. I've stolen food off my mom's chopping board and taken spoonfuls of whatever was cooking in her caldero.

But, there was no food that I enjoyed stealing more than her Arroz con Dulce.

Arroz con Dulce is a Puerto Rican coconut rice pudding that involves several steps, my favorite being the part when the rice is cooking in the sweet coconut liquid, soaking up all of its savory flavors. Seeing that my mother only makes this dish during Christmas, tuve que aprovechar.

I can recall those days when I carefully watched from a distance her motions. I eagerly waited with the biggest spoon I could find in my hand, imagining how it would taste to drink up some of the treasured mixture of milk, coconut and sugar.

When she turned her back I snuck up behind and scooped up some liquid, but oh! The wretched metal spoon gave me away as it banged loudly against the aluminum pot.

After a quick scolding I'd scurry off, spoon in hand. After years of this game, my mother decided to add extra liquid to the mix, so that I could finally enjoy more than a stolen spoonful of the liquid the rice greedily soaked up.

Now as an adult I feel lucky, not only do I not have to sneak a taste, but I could drink a whole cup of it if I wanted to!

This past weekend my mother and I cooked up a batch of Arroz con Dulce, and guess what? We both got our own cup of the mixture to drink for ourselves.

I knew it, I knew I wasn't the only one who snuck some out of the caldero!
Below are some pictures of the process, and of the finish product. I've included our family recipe for Arroz con Dulce, which of course, includes two extra cups of the liquid mixture for you to enjoy!


Arroz con Dulce
2 cups long grain white rice (Soak in water for 1 hour before cooking, then drain)

1 - 14 oz. can of coconut milk1 - 14 oz. can of cream of coconut

2 - 14 oz. cans of evaporated milk

1 Tbsp cinnamon3 whole cloves

2 cups of sugar

2 1/2 cups water

1 1/2 cups raisins

1/4 tsp salt

1/4 tsp vanilla

Add some coconut flakes if desired

Pour everything into a pot, adding the drained rice last.

Cook on low heat until the mixture starts to boil, stirring occasionally. Set aside two cups of the liquid and use as you like! Add the drained rice and then cover.

Cook until rice is tender, again stirring occasionally, and it should look like the rice is sticking together. If the rice looks too loose add more of the removed liquid.

Once the rice is cooked, scoop it out and flatten onto a dish (you might need more than one dish), spreading the rice out to the shape of the plate. Cover with aluminum foil, refrigerate and serve chilled.

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