Caramelized Rice Pudding
Recipe courtesy of Pizzeria by Evan Kleiman
In a small saucepan, combine the rum and water and bring to a boil. Remove from the heat, stir in the raisins and let stand until needed.
In the top pan of a double boiler, combine the rice, 2½ cups half-and-half and vanilla bean. Bring water in the lower pan to a gentle boil; place the top pan over it (the pan should not touch the water). Cover and cook until the liquid is absorbed and the rice is tender, about 1 hour. Check the level of the liquid occasionally to make sure the pan does not go dry. If the rice is still a bit tough and all the liquid has been absorbed, add a little more half-andhalf and cook until the rice softens.
The rice mixture should be very thick.
Remove the top pan, uncover and set aside to cool for 5 minutes. Combine the yolks and ¼ cup of the sugar in a small bowl and whisk to blend. Whisk in a small amount of the rice mixture to warm the yolk mixture slightly, then whisk the yolk mixture into the rice mixture. Reposition the top pan over the lower pan of gently simmering water and cook uncovered, stirring occasionally, until thickened, 3-4 minutes. Remove the top pan and transfer the contents to a bowl. Cover with plastic wrap pressed directly onto the surface of the rice to prevent a skin from forming. Refrigerate until completely chilled. (The rice can be prepared to this stage up to 1 day before serving.)
In a bowl, whip the heavy cream until stiff peaks form. Remove and discard the vanilla bean from the rice pudding. Drain the raisins. Using a rubber spatula, fold the cream and the raisins into the rice mixture, distributing the raisins evenly and folding only until no white drifts of cream remain. Pack the pudding firmly into six ½-cup flameproof ramekins. Level the surface, cover and refrigerate until well chilled before serving.
To serve, preheat a broiler (griller).
Place the ramekins on a baking sheet.
Divide the remaining ¼ cup sugar evenly among the ramekins, sprinkling 2 teaspoons of it evenly over the surface of each pudding. Place the ramekins in the broiler about 2 inches from the heat and broil (grill) until the sugar caramelizes, 2-3 minutes. Rotate the ramekins as needed so they brown evenly. Serve immediately, accompanied with the figs.