Dessert can be festive enough to make any day seem like a holiday even if it isn't, and ingredients that create a sunny look can also taste good and be good for you.
Need proof? This rice pudding with its colorful fruity accents will satisfy your sweet-tooth while delivering good nutrition. It has been worked out by chef and cookbook author Michel Nischan, known as a champion of healthful foods.
He points out that this rice pudding is a dessert that can help fill daily nutrient requirements, with its milk, eggs, orange juice and cranberries. He thinks of himself as an advocate for cooking for well-being, he says. It's something he takes to heart since two of his own five children have diabetes.
"This is a soft-set custard kind of rice pudding," he says. "The kids like milk, the eggs give it a nice custardy feel as well as adding nutrition, and I love how orange and cranberry go together."
Orange Rice Pudding with Minted Orange and Cranberry Glaze
(Start to finish 1 hour and 35 minutes)
For the Rice Pudding:
1 cup half and half
1 cup milk
1/3 cup sugar
1/4 vanilla bean or 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 tablespoons chopped orange zest
3 whole eggs, beaten well
1 cup 100 percent orange juice
3 cups warm cooked basmati rice (right out of the steamer or cooking pot)
1/3 cup dried cranberries
10 sprigs of fresh mint
Place the half and half and milk in a medium saucepot. Add the sugar, vanilla and orange zest. Bring to a simmer over medium heat, while stirring continually, until the sugar is dissolved. Place the beaten eggs in a medium mixing bowl. Slowly pour the hot liquid into the eggs while whisking constantly until all the liquid is absorbed. Whisk in the orange juice, then stir in the rice and cranberries. Pour the mixture back into the saucepot and cook, stirring constantly over medium heat until the mixture becomes hot and slightly thickened, about 3 to 4 minutes.
Spray a 9-by-9-inch baking dish with nonstick spray coating. Pour the warm pudding mixture into the dish and bake in a preheated 350 F oven for 15 minutes, or until the pudding is softly set (it should jiggle when shaken). Use a large tablespoon or ice-cream scoop to portion out nice rounded spoonfuls of hot pudding into 10 pudding or parfait dishes. Drizzle the orange-cranberry glaze over the servings, and garnish with fresh mint.
For the glaze:
1 cup orange juice
1/3 cup dried cranberries
1/2 cup honey
2 sprigs fresh mint
Place the orange juice and cranberries in a small saucepot. Bring to a simmer over medium heat and reduce by half, about 15 minutes. Stir in the honey. Rub the mint leaves and stems vigorously between your hands and stir into the glaze. Let stand 10 minutes, then remove the mint. Be sure you squeeze any syrup that clings to the mint back into the glaze.
Makes 10 servings of rice pudding, of 7 ounces each.
Nutrition information per serving: 240 cal., 5 g pro., 51 g carbo., 66 mg chol., 1 g fiber, 2.5 g total fat (1 g saturated), 75 mg sodium.