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For as long as I can remember - hahaha - so funny once you read the next sentence. For as long as I can remember, I have been forgetful about various facts of my life. I meet regularly with a group of friends from high school (we're talking about 40 year friendships) and they often remember more about my life than I do. "You said this, you did this, you wore this" - "Ok if you say so - I don't recall." 

And there's the irony, the puzzle. I know I made this dessert for these peeps more than once and none of them can recall!! I even thought maybe one of them had "invented" the recipe, but nope. 

Eventually I found my handwritten cryptic scribbles suggesting the dessert was simply cooked rice, mixed with sweetened whipped cream, and layered with raspberries. So I did try this, but ugh... it just didn't work. For one thing, the rice mixture was a bit like concrete, and - well, you get the picture. Back to the drawing board. The solution was to make a tasty rice pudding with a luscious, soft, smooth texture, and for that I turned to America's Test Kitchen. Maybe I should not have been surprised that they offered up more than one recipe, but here's the one that did the trick!  I added just a few tweaks at the end.

It starts by cooking rice in water, then adding a lot of dairy, and then a 45 minute stretch of further cooking. Wowzers!

Getting Ready:

  • ideally use medium-grain aka short-grain white rice (see Notes)
  • you'll need 2.5 cups each of half and half, and whole milk
  • 14-16 oz of fresh or frozen raspberries (and more fresh for topping)
  • a large saucepan or Dutch oven - with a lid

2 cups water
¼ teaspoon table salt
1 cup medium-grain / short-grain rice (white), or long grain white rice (See Notes about rice!)

(After cooking the rice in water, you'll be adding a lot of dairy so use a large pot - and one that has a lid.) Bring 2 cups water to boil in large, heavy-bottomed pot (at least 3 quarts) or a Dutch Oven. Stir in the salt and rice. Reduce the heat, cover and simmer over low heat, stirring once or twice (seriously! do this!) until the water is almost fully absorbed, 15 to 20 minutes.

2 ½ cups whole milk
2 ½ cups half-and-half
⅔ cup granulated sugar


Get ready to stay near the stove. This is not the time to leave the room - especially during that last 15 minute stage.

Add the milk, half-and-half, and sugar. Increase the heat to medium-high to bring to everything to a simmer, then reduce heat to maintain simmer. Cook uncovered, stirring frequently, until the mixture starts to thicken, about 25-30 minutes. (Be careful - I found the mixture was already beginning to stick to the bottom of the pan at the 25 minute mark!)  Reduce the heat to low and continue to cook, stirring every couple of minutes to prevent sticking and scorching, until a wooden spoon is just able to stand up in the thick pudding, about 15 minutes longer - maybe less!

1 ¼ tsp vanilla extract

zest from one lemon

Remove from the heat and stir in the vanilla extract. Cool and serve at room temperature or chilled. Obviously, for this parfait dessert we want it cooled / chilled. I added the zest from one lemon. Once it cools enough to be layered into the serving glasses, I add a bit of whipping cream - only if the cooled pudding becomes a bit too thick.

(Can be covered with plastic wrap on surface of pudding and then refrigerated up to 2 days.)

The Raspberry Layers. You may want to go in a different direction on this. My goal? a lumpy, thick, compote-like mixture to layer with the rice pudding. I like raspberries, but you can do any other fruit that you fancy or is in season - or in the freezer! I do not push this through a strainer to remove seeds - I like the mixture to be just minutes away from eating a fresh berry - not cooked down to smithereens. While I don't want a coulis type sauce, you may want to peek at my recipe for a yellow plum coulis - and note in the photos that for parfaits you can even layer with chunky jam, or chunky apple sauce. There are tons of variations on this, and you may even have your own. Note that you have control of the sugar.

16 oz of fresh or frozen raspberries
1/2 cup white sugar

1-2 TB corn starch
1-2 TB water

vanilla (optional)

(more fresh raspberries for topping)

Put the berries and the sugar into a saucepan over medium heat. The berries will release some liquid while they cook (or thaw/cook). Add vanilla if you wish.

Meanwhile stir together the cornstarch and water = equal parts. Use more or less depending on how thick you want this to be. Stir this into the fruit mixture and turn up the heat a bit, stirring constantly, while the mixture thickens. Remove from heat. Cool / chill before creating the parfaits.

Use your fancy parfait glasses or go with the current mason jar trend. Here's another moment to be creative!

Just before serving, top with whipped cream and fresh berries.

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Notes and Tips...

  • Rice - if you know about America's Test Kitchen, you know they test recipes thoroughly. They tried all kinds of rice and their preference is medium-grain, also sold as short-grain. I've seen one sold under the Lundberg brand. ATK says long grain is an ok substitute, but they do not advise using jasmine or arborio.
  • Make-Ahead - both the rice pudding and the raspberries can be made ahead, and you can even assemble the parfaits ahead of time. As I mentioned above, you can add some whipping cream to the cooled rice pudding to loosen it up before creating the parfaits.
  • For KB Recipe Attribution Practices please click here.

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