Florentine Rice-Pudding Tarts (Budini di riso)

A Florentine rice pudding tart (budino di riso) with coffee in a bar

The Spruce / Danette St. Onge

Prep: 40 mins
Cook: 30 mins
Total: 70 mins
Servings: 12 servings
Nutrition Facts (per serving)
279 Calories
13g Fat
35g Carbs
6g Protein
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Nutrition Facts
Servings: 12
Amount per serving
Calories 279
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 13g 16%
Saturated Fat 7g 36%
Cholesterol 106mg 35%
Sodium 116mg 5%
Total Carbohydrate 35g 13%
Dietary Fiber 1g 3%
Total Sugars 17g
Protein 6g
Vitamin C 2mg 10%
Calcium 68mg 5%
Iron 1mg 8%
Potassium 113mg 2%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)

One particular breakfast treat is sold in many coffee bars and pastry shops in Florence: the budino di riso ("rice pudding"): a little palm-sized tart with a golden, slightly crumbly short-pastry ("pasta frolla" in Italian, pâte sablée in French) crust containing a few bites of tender, fragrant rice pudding, scented with vanilla and either orange or lemon (or, as we like to do, a 50/50 mixture of both).

Lightly dusted with powdered sugar and not overly sweet, they pair really well with espresso for breakfast or with a shot of Vin Santo (or any other dessert wine) for a light after-dinner treat, or a cup of Earl Grey for an afternoon teatime pick-me-up. They can be eaten at room temperature, and are easy to transport, so they make a great addition to any picnic or potluck.

Use either small tart pans (about 2.5 to 3 inches in diameter) or a standard muffin tin to make 12 tarts. You can also use oval-shaped mini tart tins (they are often oval-shaped in Florentine pastry shops). They're usually made in smooth-sided tins, but you can use a fluted tin too—it might just be a little more difficult to remove from the tin after baking. 

Note that for an even lighter treat, you can skip the crusts entirely and just bake the rice pudding directly in tartlet pans or muffin tin cups—sometimes we prefer them this way, and we recently learned that these were originally made that way—without any crust—so arguably that's more traditional/authentic.

Ingredients

For the Crusts:

  • 2 cups (250 grams) all-purpose flour

  • 1/2 cup (125 grams) butter

  • 1 pinch fine sea salt

  • 3/4 cups (94 grams) confectioners' sugar

  • 2 large egg yolks

  • 1/2 organic lemon, zested

For the Rice Pudding:

  • 2 tablespoons (28 grams) unsalted butter

  • 1/2 cup (100 grams) Arborio rice, or vialone nano, or carnaroli, or similar

  • 1 shot (39 milliliters) Vin Santo, or cognac, or brandy, or marsala wine, optional

  • 2 cups (473 milliliters) milk

  • 1/3 cup (67 grams) granulated sugar

  • 1/2 vanilla bean, seeds only, scraped out with the tip of a knife

  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract, or vanilla paste

  • 2 large eggs, beaten

  • 1 lemon, organic, zested

  • 1 orange, organic, zested

  • Confectioners' sugar, for garnish

Steps to Make It

To Make the Crusts

  1. In a food processor (if you don't have one, you can instead mix the dough in a large mixing bowl using a pastry cutter or your fingers), work the butter into the flour, together with the pinch of salt, until it resembles a coarse, sandy yellow cornmeal.

  2. Mix in the powdered sugar and transfer the mixture to a work surface.

  3. Form the mixture into a volcano shape (with a crater in the middle) and place the egg yolks and zest in the crater.

  4. Use a fork to beat the yolks and mix them into the flour, then use your hands to work the liquid and dry parts together just to form a dough. Be careful not to overwork it -- you just want it to stay together, otherwise, your crusts will be tough and hard, rather than crumbly and tender.

  5. Form the dough into a round, wrap it in plastic wrap and refrigerate it for 30 minutes.

  6. Once the 30 minutes are up, preheat the oven to 350 F (180 C).

  7. Remove the dough to a floured work surface and roll it out very thin (about 1/8" or 3 mm thick).

  8. Cut it into rounds slightly larger than your tart tins or muffin cups, using either a sharp paring knife or a round cutter shape.

  9. Gently press the dough into the bottom and sides of the molds with your fingers, then pierce the bottom a sides of each a few times with the tines of a fork. (In Florence, the crust is often shaped so that it has a little "lip" around the edge, but that's optional.)

  10. Fill each tin with dried beans (to keep the dough from puffing up while baking) and bake until golden brown, about 10 minutes.

  11. Remove and set aside to cool, then remove and discard the beans when cooled. 

To Make the Rice Pudding

  1. While the dough chills, make the rice pudding and preheat the oven to 392 F (200 C).

  2. In a medium, heavy-bottomed pot over low heat, melt the butter. 

  3. Add the rice and shot of Vin Santo (or other alcohol, if using), and stir with a wooden spoon for about 1 minute.

  4. Add the milk, sugar, vanilla seeds, and vanilla paste or extract and simmer gently, uncovered, over low heat until the rice is tender (but not completely mushy) and most (but not quite all) of the liquid is absorbed, about 15 to 20 minutes. Do not let the pudding get too dry, as it will dry out further in the oven and your tarts will be dry and tough, rather than moist and creamy.

  5. Remove from heat and let cool slightly.

  6. Stir in the beaten eggs and orange and lemon zest. 

To Make the Tarts

  1. Spoon the rice pudding into each pre-baked crust up to the edge and bake for about 10 minutes, or until the tops are firm and golden brown. 

  2. Set the tartlet pans or muffin tin on a wire rack to cool, then remove the mini tarts to another wire rack to cool completely.

  3. Lightly dust with powdered sugar just before serving.

Raw Egg Warning

Consuming raw and lightly cooked eggs poses a risk of foodborne illness.