MOROCCAN ALMOND RICE PUDDING WITH COCONUT, ORANGE FLOWER-WATER AND PISTACHIOS (for twelve)
2/3 cup whole almonds
1 cup very hot water
2 cups water
2-¼ cups medium or short grain rice
½ cup confectioners’ sugar, or more to taste
2 cinnamon sticks
5-1/3 tablespoons (1/3 cup) unsalted butter
½ teaspoon coarse salt
¾ teaspoon almond extract
8 cups whole milk
1/3 cup ground pistachios
1/3 cup shredded unsweetened coconut
1/3 cup orange-flower water
1. Place half the almonds in a food processor, add ½ cup very hot water and process until liquid. Press the mixture firmly through a sieve into a large saucepan. Place the pulp in the sieve back in the food processor, add the remaining almonds and ½ cup very hot water, and liquefy again. Press through sieve into the saucepan and discard the pulp.
2. Add the 2 cups water to the almond milk and bring to a boil. Sprinkle in the rice and sugar and add the cinnamon sticks, half the butter, the salt, almond extract, and 4 cups milk. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat, cover, and simmer gently until the rice is almost cooked through, about 30 minutes, adding more milk if necessary.
3. Continue cooking the rice, adding more milk as it is absorbed, and stirring often, until thick and velvety but loose. Taste for sweetness: it should be barely sweet; add more sugar if necessary.
4. Continue cooking for another 15 minutes, stirring constantly to prevent the rice from burning. Stir in the remaining butter. Pour into a large serving bowl, and sprinkle with the pistachios and coconut. Pass the orange flour water for people to add on their own, if desired. (The pudding may be left to cool and served at room temperature. If it seems too thick, loosen with more milk.)