My mom adapted this from several recipes she found, in an attempt to copy the arroz con leche that we had while I was studying in Merida, in Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula. The bakery sold it in little plastic cups, at room temperature. This isn't a true 'pudding' since it doesn't have any eggs--but it sure is good! I haven't actually made this myself yet--just enjoyed it at mom's house! Warming the milk before adding to the rice helps to avoid longer cooking times. Simply warm the milk in the microwave or in another pan shortly before adding it to the rice. This dish can easily be halved if you don't need such a large amount (or doubled if you need more). This is a nice recipe to pour into individual serving dishes (custard cups or ramekins work well) while still warm. Sprinkle with a little extra cinnamon to garnish, cool, and eat cold or at room temperature.
- In a large saucepan or pot, combine water, rice and cinnamon sticks and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to simmer, cover pot and heat for 10 minutes or until water is absorbed.
- Add the warmed milk, cover and continue to cook over low heat for another 15-20 minutes stirring after 8-10 minutes. (The mixture will thicken as the rice absorbs the milk).
- Add the sugar and vanilla and continue to simmer (uncovered) for 3-5 minutes to dissolve sugar completely (It will thicken even more as it cools).
- Place into a large serving dish or individual custard cups. Place cinnamon stick on top and sprinkle with ground cinnamon for garnish if desired. Serve warm or cold, for dessert, snack, or breakfast.