Arroz con leche or rice with milk pudding is a popular dessert in Spanish and Latin cuisine. It is a creamy dessert that originated in Spain made by cooking rice slowly in milk and sugar. There are so many variations of arroz con leche. For this recipe, I chose to make a Cuban-style rice pudding (with coconut milk), making it into my very own arroz con coco.
This Cuban version of arroz con leche is simmered with a lemon peel and a cinnamon stick. I love coconut with lemon and cinnamon. Coconut is found in many other Cuban dishes, so I knew the combination would be amazing! Some rice pudding recipes call for the pudding to be boiled; others call for a baked pudding. I went with a slow simmer to get that risotto-like creaminess into the dessert.
I simmered the lemon peel and cinnamon stick in the rice mixture the entire time since the flavors from both are so subtle; I wanted them to shine through a little more. A richer coconut flavor and texture comes from the shredded coconut added into the rice mixture and a garnish of ground cinnamon and lemon zest.
For your next Cuban-themed party or meal, make this arroz con coco for dessert. It’s really easy to make—similar to making risotto—and it doesn’t require as much stirring since you cook the rice first. The bonus? It’s simply delicious!