Rice pudding has never been amongst my favourites – it has never sold itself very well to my mind. Riz à la crème appears on menus all over France, but like an unsporty child, it is never picked for my team. That is until my eye fell on the recipe in Stephane Réynaud’s “Ripaille”. I spend hours leafing through this book – while I am waiting for pastry to chill, a kettle to boil, or the oven to reach temperature I’ll be turning pages. As I previously mentioned that rice pudding is not a favourite it will come as no surprise to learn that the cupboard was bare with regard to pudding rice. Round rice from the Camargue was selected and was soon gently cooking in milk and sugar for the 20mins recommended in the recipe.Meanwhile I warmed cream and a vanilla pod which was then stirred into the rice and left to chill in the fridge. A hour later one spoonful told me that the rice was not soft and melting as I had expected; the dish remained a sweet, but al dente, risotto. After a couple of failed attempts to instil some tenderness into the rice, I brought out the the mouli legumes. That wasn’t fun, but the result was a wonderful smooth riz à la crème. This is not a method I would recommend yet, as I have not tried the recipe with pudding rice, but my guess is that it won’t live up to the pureed Camargue rice. The caramel sauce is made with sugar and water, as in a normal caramel. As the caramel reaches the desired colour, stop the cooking with a squeeze of lemon, and swirl in a knob of butter. Finish the sauce with the thin pouring cream that is the only cream that readily exists in France. The rice pudding needs to be chilled when served, and the caramel sauce should only be warm enough to be liquid. All that remains to do is to beat some whipping creme into a Chantilly, with a little sugar for crunch, and stir this into the rice pudding. Un goût hallucinant.