Our 12 Tastes of Christmas series has become an annual tradition here on the blog, when some of the most talented and inspiring food people on the planet stop by to share their holiday favorites in the weeks leading up to the 25th. I can’t think of a better person to kick off this year’s smorgasbord of holiday flavors that Aran Goyoaga, creator of out-of-control beautiful food blog Cannelle et Vanille and author of the brand new book Small Plates and Sweet Treats. Cannelle et Vanille was one of the first food blogs that I read religiously, and Aran’s work opened my eyes to the fact that developing recipes, photographing them beautifully and telling the stories that put them in the context of life can be elevated to a true art form. I’m definitely picking up her book for a couple of recipients on my Christmas list (all the recipes are gluten-free, too!), and I’m sure this Vanille Bean & Cardamom Arroz con Leche (rice pudding) will become a new cozy winter staple around our home. Take it away, Aran!

Arroz con leche is the one dessert that really describes the smells of my childhood – milk simmering on the stove with cinnamon and vanilla (I even named my blog after those smells). It is the treat I crave when I seek comfort and I am ridden with nostalgia. This recipe, which can be found in my new book, is a variation of the classic. A bit simpler since it does not require standing in front of the stove for an hour stirring the milk. The vanilla bean, cinnamon, cardamom and lemon zest will make your home smell of goodness. It can also be turned into a dairy-free option by using unsweetened coconut milk or thick homemade cashew milk.

Vanilla bean and cardamom baked arroz con leche

 from “Small Plates and Sweet Treats: My Family’s Journey to Gluten-Free Cooking” by Aran Goyoaga

*Serves 4


  • 4 cups (1 liter) whole milk
  • 1/2 cup (100 g) Arborio rice
  • 1/4 cup (50 g) natural cane sugar
  • 1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise and seeds scraped
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 4 cardamom pods, cracked
  • Zest of 1/2 lemon
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt


1. Preheat the oven to 325F (160C). Combine all the ingredients in a 2-quart baking dish or one large enough to hold all the liquid. Cover with parchment paper and then aluminum foil.

2. Bake for 1 hour. Remove the foil and parchment, stir, and bake for an additional 15 to 30 minutes or until thick and creamy. This will depend on the size of dish you are using and remember that the arroz con leche will thicken as it sits. Serve at room temperature or chilled.

Small Plates and Sweet Treats: My Family’s Journey to Gluten-Free Cooking would make such a lovely gift for any gourmand on your list…gluten-free or not! Gwyneth even listed it as one of her favorite fall books for cooks in the last GOOP. Just sayin’. Thanks so much for stopping by Aran! And hope you all get a chance to try this cozy winter recipe… let us know what you think!

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Comments (4)
  1. 1
    MikeVFMK November 30, 2012 at 1:11 pm

    Aran’s recipes and images are truly inspirational. And she’s the perfect person to kick of the holiday countdown. Another fabulous recipe here.

  2. 2
    Marcela Macias De Hadzimehmedi November 30, 2012 at 4:18 pm

    I just received Small Plates and Sweet treats and I am amazed at how BEAUTIFUL it is and how delicious all recipes look. Unfortunately I can’t get all the different flours in Cyprus but I will try to make as many as possible!

  3. 3
    Elizabeth December 1, 2012 at 1:19 pm

    Sounds delicious! And I absolutely love those spoons. Need to get some for tea time!

    Cheers, Elizabeth of The Corner Apartment