Ok, if you haven't figured it out yet, I absolutely adore rice pudding. And perhaps it seems like I am obsessed with many things, but I can't help but to come back to this one true love. I think this time, I got it right. This is the closest I've come to recreating Rice to Riches at home!! It is just so hard to really do it justice. Honestly, I'm not very fond of the photo below. It looks like a little girl in an overly poofy dress, when all of her friends no longer wear poofy dresses, but tailored frocks, and she's still toting the pink-patent shoes with a buckle, and a lacey pink headband. But seriously, this is the best rice pudding I've ever made. There is, allelujah, a secret. Custard! Why I continued to go on, thinking that I knew that was the key, but never really making it, is beyond me. It was never really rich enough, if chocolate was involved. Well now that I have the key, you will probably see several more rice pudding flavours strolling through in the next while, as I'm now pretty motivated and inspired.... definitely needing some improvement on the photo front.... Vanilla Bean and Cardamom Rice Pudding 2 cups arborio rice 4 cups water 1 1/2 cups whole milk & 1 3/4 cups whole milk 1 vanilla bean 2 egg yolks 1 cup sugar (divided) 6 green cardamom pods Rice: 1. In a 5-quart (or larger) saucepan combine the arborio rice and the water. Split the vanilla bean, and scrape the contents into the rice. Add 6 whole green cardamom pods. Cover, and bring to a boil. 2. Once boiling, lower the heat, and continue to simmer on low until the water is nearly all absorbed. 3. Once the water is absorbed, add 1 1/2 cups whole milk and 1/2 cup sugar, stirring gently to combine. Keep covered after ingredients are added. If the rice is nearly cooked before the custard is ready, turn the heat off, and remove from heat. Custard: 1. In the meantime, in a medium saucepan, bring 1 3/4 cups whole milk to a boil. In a bowl, combine and whisk the egg yolks, and 1/2 cup sugar, until resembling yellow ribbons. At first, it will not seem possible, but give it a minute and it will work itself out. 2. In a very thin stream, and only a little bit at a time, add 1/8 of the milk to the eggs; whisk as often, and as much as possible. Continue to whisk, and slowly adding the rest of the milk, bit by bit. 3. Pour the mixture back into the saucepan, and continue to stir on medium-low heat. Cook until the custard becomes *close to coating the back of the spoon, or five minutes, whichever happens first... (*close because an ice cream recipe would require 4 egg yolks, so it won't get quite as thick with 2 egg yolks). Rice Pudding - when the custard is prepared, and the rice is nearly cooked: 1. Remove the cardamom pods from the rice mixture. 2. Add the custard to the rice. Turn the heat to medium-low, and heat for approximately 4-5 minutes, stirring. The consistency should be thick and creamy, and not too dry in appearance, but not too soupy either. The rice should still be al dente. Turn off the heat, and remove from the burner. Keep covered until served. Enjoy immediately!