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Chocolate-Glazed Gingerbread

Mocha-Rum Risotto

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Chocolate-Walnut Mandelbrot

Sweet Spot


Mocha-Rum Risotto

Tips: Risotto is usually a savory rice dish, but here it becomes a dessert. Very rich, not too sweet, and with a solid chocolate impact, this is Italian-style “comfort food” to serve after a light meal on a cold or stormy night. You’ll need medium-grain arborio rice to make this, which I can find in local supermarkets (some is sold as “risotto”); I’ve tried both an imported brand and a brand produced in the US, and both worked well. Note that the recipe uses an approximate amount of water. As an agricultural product, rice can vary considerably between crops, and you may need a bit more or a bit less than I do.

This is cooked in a 10-inch diameter by 2-inch deep, heavy-bottomed, nonaluminum frying pan on top of the stove, and I have an old wooden paddle that is perfect for stirring it (use any comfortable, sturdy, wooden spoon). While you’re cooking the risotto, stir almost constantly. The liquid you add must be very hot, if not actually boiling, and it is important to add a small amount at a time. I have seen recipes specifying liquid additions in 1/2 cup amounts, but my additions are smaller (I don’t have a lot of patience, and smaller liquid additions get absorbed much more quickly). Serve this with very lightly sweetened whipped cream and some good espresso. You might be up for hours afterward, but at least that way you can get in some exercise to burn off those calories! This is best when freshly-made, though it can be refrigerated overnight and reheated gently the next day.


  • 2/3 cup granulated sugar
  • Pinch of salt
  • 3 ounces unsweetened chocolate, finely chopped
  • 2 ounces semisweet chocolate, finely chopped
  • 3/4 cup heavy cream
  • 1-1/2 tsp. instant coffee granules
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • About 2-1/4 cups water
  • 2 Tbsp. unsalted butter
  • 2/3 cup arborio
  • 1 Tbsp. dark rum
  • 2 tsp. vanilla

For serving:

  • Lightly sweetened whipped cream

In small bowl, combine sugar and salt. Set aside near stovetop. In medium heatproof bowl, combine chopped chocolates. In small saucepan over low heat (or in microwave) heat cream until very hot; pour about half of hot cream over chocolates. Let stand a minute or two, then stir or whisk gently until smooth. Gradually stir in remaining hot cream. Stir in coffee granules. Set aside near stovetop.

In separate small, heavy-bottomed, nonaluminum pots, heat milk and water over low heat. Stir milk occasionally until very hot; when water boils, shut heat off but keep pot covered and on the burner. Meanwhile, in 10 inch diameter by 2-inch deep heavy-bottomed, nonaluminum frying pan, melt butter over medium heat. Add risotto (dry). Stir often with wooden paddle or spoon for 2 to 3 minutes (you’ll see the risotto begin to sizzle slightly in the butter).

Add a small amount (no more than 1/4 cup) of the very hot milk. The milk should sizzle as it hits the hot pan. Stir the mixture until the milk has been almost completely absorbed into the risotto. Continue adding small additions of the hot milk and stirring them in, cooking and stirring until each addition has been almost completely absorbed before adding the next. It’s not necessary to stir vigorously or beat the risotto, just stir continuously; occasionally, scrape down the sides of the frying pan with a heat-resistant rubber spatula. You’ll notice that the risotto begins to look creamy very early on, and that not absolutely all of the liquid will absorb in as you stir. The risotto should be maintained at a strong simmer, so adjust the heat under your pan accordingly as necessary.

When you’ve added all of the hot milk and stirred it in, begin adding the very hot water in small amounts, again cooking and stirring until each addition is almost completely absorbed before adding the next. When there’s only half a cup or so of water that remains to be added, test your risotto. Drop a bit onto a clean spoon, cool slightly, and eat it. It will be very bland, but you’re really checking for consistency here. The rice should be al dente; it should not be crunchy, but neither should it be soft through. You may need to add a bit more or less water; if you need to add more than the specified 2-1/4 cups, add it by small amounts and heat it before you add it.

When your rice is al dente, stir in the sugar and salt. The mixture will thin out a bit—OK. Stir for several minutes until the sugar grains have dissolved. Reduce heat to very low; stir in chocolate mixture until well-blended (risotto will thicken substantially when chocolate mixture is added). Turn off heat and stir in rum and vanilla.

Cool for a few minutes before serving (or, cool slightly, then chill, covering tightly when cold). To serve, spoon risotto into wine glasses or decorative cups. Top with very lightly sweetened whipped cream. If risotto has been chilled overnight, it will be very thick. Reheat in heatproof bowl over simmering water on low heat (water should not touch bottom of bowl), stirring often until warm (alternatively, reheat in microwaveable bowl at 50% (medium) power for short intervals, stirring well between each, until warm).

Yields: Scant 4 cups, 6 to 8 servings.

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