Arroz con leche is a childhood favorite of mine. I would spend countless weekends at my dad’s mom’s house along with my cousin Alex. We would devour plates of huevos y papas con chorizo and watch Saturday morning cartoons, but it was a seriously good day when my Grandma Celia broke out the arroz con leche.
I’ve become a lot worse with dairy since then, so finding dairy-free alternatives to Mexican dishes is a new pastime of mine. With the widespread availability of plant-based milks, it hasn’t been super difficult.
The recipe I used for this dairy-free arroz con leche is adapted from Thyme and Love; I really like their suggestion about adding cashew cream, which I was intimidated about making at first. Luckily, I found that it’s a simple, two-ingredient process and it can be used as a substitute for any time a recipe calls for a creamy texture. Instead of soy milk I used almond milk, only because I prefer the taste and rarely have soy milk in my fridge. Another change I made to mine is the addition of a lot of powdered cinnamon as well as the entire stick that I left in the arroz while it cooked. Arroz con leche just doesn’t taste right to me unless it’s super cinnamon-y.
Cashew Cream Ingredients:
1 cup raw cashews
3/4 cup water
- Soak the cashews in water for at least two hours. (I soaked mine for about 4, and it was much easier to get the creamy consistency with my weak single-serve blender.)
- Drain cashews, add them to a blender with the 3/4 cup of water. Blend until the mixture is a creamy consistency.
- For this recipe, you leave the cashew cream as is. If you’re making it to replace Mexican crema, add a teaspoon of apple cider vinegar, 2 tablespoons of lemon juice, and salt to taste.
Arroz con Leche Ingredients:
1 cup short grain white rice (I used jasmine)
2 cups water
3 cups unsweetened almond milk
pinch of seasalt
2 long strips orange zest (I used the peel of a tiny mandarin orange, shoutout to my Halo addiction)
1 large cinnamon stick
1/3 cup brown sugar (piloncillo is better, though)
powdered cinnamon (my arroz con leche was looking uncomfortably pale without it so I added at least 2 tablespoons)
- In a large pot over medium heat, add your rice and water. Bring to a boil and cook until most of the water has evaporated, stirring often.
- Add the almond milk, sea salt, orange peels, cinnamon stick, and cashew cream. Bring to a boil over medium heat, add in the sugar, and stir often. Reduce to a low simmer. Add in your powdered cinnamon and cook on low for about 30 minutes.