Arroz Doce, making my own memories


arroz doce

It’s probably not at all surprising that it’s during the holidays that I miss my family the most. Easter was always a time to spend with family. Going to Easter Mass then home for Easter lunch. My favourite thing and one of the things I miss the  most is Portuguese sweet bread. It’s a little bit like brioche but better. I don’t have the confidence to try it, yet, but I will make it!

The other thing I loved  was Portuguese arroz dooce (sweet rice). My Vavo (grandmother) made the best sweet rice in the world, fact.  I could tell if my Madrinha (godmother) made it instead of my vavo and it became a bit of a game where they tried to trick me into eating my madrinha’s arroz doce telling me it was my vavo’s.  I could ALWAYS tell the difference. I couldn’t put my finger on the differnce but it was there. I think my madrinha took it as a challenge, after all it was her mother’s recipe, she learned it from my vavo, they lived in the same house and used the same ingredients, but still, I could tell the difference.

It will be 10 years in May that I moved to England and I lived in South Caroline for 8 years before moving here. Add the 1 year I lived back home in Massachusetts waiting for my Portuguese citizenship to come through so I could move to the UK and it’s been almost 20 years since I lived surrounded by my Portuguese family.

This year I decided that I have to learn to make the food I loved from my childhood. I mean it’s not like I’m going to be living in a Portuguese community any time soon, so I’m it!

The first thing I decided to try was my vavo’s arroz doce. I searched and searched on line for a recipe that sounded and looked like her recipe. In the end I combined a couple of them and made my own.  The thing with my vavo’s sweet rice is the consistency. It’s thick. you can slice it and eat it like a bar.  Most of the recipes were too soupy but after a couple of tries I think I cracked it. It’s not my vavo’s but it’s as close as I’m going to get.


Serves: 1 large serving platter or 6 individual plates

  • 1 cup/128 grams white short grain rice
  • 2 1/2 cups/ 320 millilitres skim milk
  • 1 cup/ 128 grams caster sugar
  • 4 egg yolks
  • 1/2 lemon peel
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • Pinch of salt
  • Cinnamon


Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 1hr 20 minutes

  • In a pot bring 2 cups water to a boil.
  • Add rice, stir for around 2 minutes then drain the water.
  • Add one cup milk, lemon peel and a pinch of salt to your rice.
  • Simmer at very low heat, occasionally mixing to prevent the rice from sticking to the pot.
  • When the rice starts to absorb the liquids,  add more milk.
  • Simmer over low heat & continue to stir occasionally.
  • Once the rice has again started to absorb the milk, add more milk a bit at a time until you’re left w/ about 1/2 cup of milk.
  • Add one cup of sugar and stir.
  • In a small bowl, whisk together 4 egg yolks with the remaining 1/2 cup of milk.
  • Add to the pot of rice with a tablespoon of butter.
  • Mix thoroughly and often to prevent sticking over low heat.
  • Continue to simmer until the rice absorbs all the liquid and rice is thoroughly cooked.
  • Remove lemon peels.
  • Pour your sweet rice onto individual plates or a serving platter.
  • Decorate with cinnamon.
  • Allow to cool to room temperature before serving.

rice pudding

I mixed things up a bit and served it w/ morello cherry compote and it was delicious. I got the idea from a Scandi tradition I heard about over Christmas. The only thing I would change is, if you’re going to eat the arroz doce warm, which is what I did when I served it w/ the morello cherry compote I would decrease the sugar. When it’s  warm it tastes sweeter than when it’s cooled.

arroz doce morello

Please do let me know if you try it- I’d love to hear what you thought of it.



  1. April 8, 2015 /

    I love le riz au lait (‘rice pudding’ just doesn’t sound nice enough!) and I have been trying to make my Mamie (nan)’s recipe, but it always tasted better at hers when I was a little girl. Sometimes it’s the time and the place, not the actual food, that make it taste the way it tastes (am I actually making any sense?). I was thinking that having rubbish food for picnics. I wouldn’t eat the stuff at home, but sat in the sun with friends and it tastes heavenly!
    Mel recently posted…White Chocolate, Vanilla and Raspberry Layer CakeMy Profile

  2. April 8, 2015 /

    Just invited you to my ‘free from’ collaborative board. It is quite popular and you could add any recipes that are ‘free from’ something, e.g. this one is wheat-free, nut-free, soya-free.
    Mel recently posted…White Chocolate, Vanilla and Raspberry Layer CakeMy Profile