I love celebrating my Puerto Rican heritage, especially during this time of year. If you know anything about Puerto Ricans and our vibrant culture, you’ll know that we love to party! Puerto Rico has an extra-long holiday season. It starts at Thanksgiving and runs until mid-January. It goes without saying that the Christmas season is a big deal here. While on the mainland, Christmas is the big day, tradition dictates that it is the Epiphany or Three Kings’ Day or Día de los Tres Reyes Magos, which falls on January 6th each year, that is the biggest holiday in Puerto Rico.
The Three Kings of the Epiphany are the guys who followed the star to Bethlehem, to offer the baby Jesus presents of gold, frankincense and myrrh 12 days after he was born. So, unlike some cultures that have Santa bringing the presents on Christmas Eve, Spanish cultures have Los Reyes Magos, who come to people’s homes on the night of January 5th (La Vípera de Reyes or the Eve of Three Kings Day) to bring them presents. Kids write their wish lists to their favorite king (Melchor, Baltazar or Gaspar), and they leave out snacks for the Three Kings (and grass for their camels) before they go to bed. On January 6th, we have huge family gatherings with lots of traditional foods. One of those traditional dishes is arroz con dulce, which is a coconut-based Puerto Rican rice pudding that’s deliciously sweet and scented with lots of holiday spices like cinnamon, ginger and cloves. Arroz con dulce is one of those dishes that takes me right back to the holiday season. Whenever I’m making holiday dishes, whether sweet or savory, I always make sure to have CARNATION® Evaporated Milk in my pantry. It’s my trusted partner in the kitchen to make classic holiday recipes or create twists on holiday classics. I’m absolutely loving the new resealable TetraPak version of CARNATION® Evaporated Milk, which I found at my local Walmart. Available in the baking aisle, it’s resealable, which makes it super easy to use and store as needed. CARNATION® Evaporated Milk adds a delicious creaminess to any dish, both sweet and savory.
I love using CARNATION® Evaporated Milk to make all types of traditional Puerto Rican desserts, like arroz con dulce, flan and coquito. It’s also great for making things like mashed potatoes, macaroni and cheese, and chicken pot pie. For more recipe inspiration, definitely visit the El Mejor Nido website! I know I can count on Carnation to evoke special thought and memories of bringing the family together as well as spending quality time together.
How are you spending quality time with your family this year? Comment below!
Arroz Con Dulce (Puerto Rican Coconut Rice Pudding)
- 1 tbsp unsalted butter
- 1 1/4 cups medium grain rice
- 2 cans coconut milk 14 oz each
- 3 cups water
- 1 can cream of coconut 15 oz
- 2 cups CARNATION® Evaporated Milk
- 1 tsp pumpkin pie spice shortcut
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 1/4 tsp ground cloves
- 1/2 tsp sea salt
- 1/4 cup raisins
Heat a heavy-bottomed pot on medium-low heat. Add the butter and let it melt.
Add the rice into the pot and stir to coat with the melted butter. Cook for 1 minute.
Add the coconut milk, water, cream of coconut and evaporated milk. Stir to combine.
Add the vanilla, ground cloves and pumpkin pie spice. Whisk to combine the spices.
Add the raisins and stir to combine. Lower the heat on the pot to low.
Cook the arroz con dulce for 60-75 minutes, stirring constantly to prevent the rice from sticking and burning. It's ready when the rice is very tender and the mixture is very creamy. Most of the liquid will evaporate, but it will still be pourable.
Pour the arroz con dulce into a heat-proof dish, and cover with plastic wrap (make sure the plastic wrap touches the surface of the rice pudding, to avoid forming a skin.
Refrigerate for 8 hours, or overnight. To serve, you can scoop portions into cups, and top with a pinch of ground cinnamon/pumpkin pie spice, if desired.
I love using pumpkin pie spice for this recipe, because it contains all the spices you would use for arroz con dulce. Some folks like to use whole cinnamon sticks, fresh ginger and whole cloves, but I like the more subtle flavor profile that ground spices provide.