RICE PUDDING WITH ALMONDS AND CHERRY SAUCE

4 3/4 cups whole milk
7 tablespoons plus 3/4 cup sugar
3/4 cup short-grain or medium-grain rice
1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise or 1 teaspoon pure extract.
1/2 cup sliced almonds, toasted

1 cup chilled whipping cream

1 16-ounce package frozen pitted cherries, thawed
1 lemon, quartered
1 tablespoon cornstarch mixed with 1 tablespoon water

Combine milk, 5 tablespoons sugar and rice in heavy medium saucepan. Scrape in seeds from vanilla bean; add bean and bring to boil. Reduce heat to medium and simmer until rice is tender and mixture is thick, stirring frequently, about 35 minutes. Discard vanilla bean. Mix in almonds. Pour rice pudding into 13x9x2-inch metal baking pan; cool completely.

Using electric mixer, beat cream and 2 tablespoons sugar in medium bowl until medium peaks form. Fold cream into rice pudding mixture in pan. Cover and refrigerate until cold, about 4 hours. (Can be made 1 day ahead. Keep refrigerated.)

Cook cherries, lemon and remaining 3/4 cup sugar in heavy medium saucepan over medium heat until cherries are tender, stirring occasionally, about 5 minutes. Add cornstarch mixture and bring to boil, stirring constantly. Discard lemon. Spoon pudding into bowls. Spoon hot cherry sauce over.

Makes 6 to 8 servings

Category: Desserts
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