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The serving of rice pudding dates back to Roman times, when it was used medicinally to settle stomachs. Cape gooseberries are thought to be native to Peru and Chile, but the cape in the name is the Cape of Good Hope. The fruit was first very popular in South Africa and from there it travelled to Australia and New Zealand where it thrives today.
To poach the gooseberries, bring them to a very gentle simmer in the sugar syrup (equal parts caster sugar and water).
Remove them from the heat and allow them to sit in the hot syrup until they are soft and the skins just start to break.
Melt the butter in a heavy-based pan. Add the rice and stir to coat.
Add the sugar, vanilla pod and milk and bring gently to the boil, then reduce the heat and simmer 30 to 35 minutes.
Add the gooseberries to the rice.
Separate the pudding between 4 bowls and serve with a dollop of creme fraiche.
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