Sometimes, we all need a midnight snack. Sometimes, it needs to be sweet. Believe it or not, I’ve been dying to make this for about a week now. Tonight at around 9:30, it reached critical mass. It required a grocery run that my sister was nice enough to take me on (still can’t drive very well for a few weeks), but was totally worth it. May I proudly present my own creation: White chocolate risotto with red wine and honey poached figs and graham cracker crumble. It’s like a tongue twister, right? Don’t worry, it’s actually very easy to make. Less than half an hour in fact. So give it a try!
First, take some dried figs, cut off the stems, and cut them in half. Toss them in a small
bowl with a cup of cheap red wine and a tablespoon of honey, then ignore for a while.
Combine 3 cups of milk with 2 cups of water. Why? Traditionally, risotto is cooking with a broth like chicken broth or vegetable broth. Since this is a sweet risotto, the milk is the cooking liquid. Unfortunately, if the milk gets too dry the proteins in it can get… icky. So we water it down for a little insurance. Make sense? Anyway, put the milk/water mixture in a saucepan on low heat.
Lastly, measure out a cup of Arborio or risotto rice and yes, it does matter. Why? Properly cooked risotto is a creamy consistency that in Italian is called all’onda or ‘to the wave’. What gives it this wonderful, creamy texture is the starch covering each little short grain of rice. Try to just switch out a different kind of rice… a disappointing bowl indeed. Fortunately, Arborio rice is very easy to find in any supermarket now. The only other thing you need is a cup of white chocolate chips.
Pour the fig/honey/wine mixture into a small sauté pan and set to the lowest heat setting you can. We’re finally ready to start the rice!
Heat one tablespoon of butter in a new saucepan and add the rice, then stir until it is all coated. Let this toast, stirring constantly for about 3 minutes, before adding the first 2 cups of milk/water. Once you add the liquid, something important happens: the timer starts. What timer?
If you have the rice on medium high heat your rice will be done it about 27 minutes exactly. But that’s not all that happens. Once you add the liquid, you cannot stop stirring. Don’t get me wrong, you can for a minute or two, but not much longer. To explain why; Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet.
Let’s say that the bottom of the saucepan is Romeo and the risotto is Juliet. Knowing their tragic end, you decide to save them from themselves and keep them apart. But they really want to be together, in this case the rice sticking to the bottom of the pan like a toddler to their blanket. The only way to prevent this? Stirring! So protect the young couple from themselves and stir, ok?
Simply add the liquid one cup at a time as it is absorbed until the rice is cooked. How will
you know? Taste it! Risotto, as pasta, should be al dente when properly cooked; that is it should have just a bit of bite to it. Now remove it from the heat and turn off the heat on the figs as well. Stir the white chocolate into the risotto, then serve into a bowl. Garnish with a few figs, their liquid, and a crumbled graham cracker, and enjoy! What do you think? What would you change?