Work Time: 15 minutes plus chilling
Total Time: 1 1/2 hours plus chilling
1/2 vanilla bean or 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
6 cups milk
3/4 cup sugar
3/4 cup arborio rice (Italian short-grain rice) or regular long-grain rice
1/2 cup dried cherries or raisins
2 tablespoons dark rum (optional)
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup heavy or whipping cream
1. With knife, cut vanilla bean lengthwise in half. Scrape out and reserve seeds from inside both halves.
2. In 4-quart saucepan, heat milk, sugar, vanilla bean seeds, and vanilla bean halves to boiling over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally. (If using vanilla extract, add in step 3 with rum.) Stir in rice; heat to boiling. Reduce heat to low; cover and simmer 1 hour and 15 minutes, stirring occasionally, until mixture is very creamy and slightly thickened (pudding will firm up upon chilling). Remove and discard vanilla bean halves.
3. Spoon rice pudding into large bowl; stir in dried cherries, rum, and salt. Cool slightly, then cover and refrigerate until well chilled, at least 6 hours.
4. Up to 2 hours before serving, whip cream until stiff peaks form. Fold whipped cream, half at a time, into rice pudding. SHARE With Your Friends: