Tortine di Riso Agli Agrumi (Italian-style Rice Custard with Citrus)

This sweet rice dessert has two distinct layers — a barely-set baked custard atop a bottom layer of tender rice bound with custard.

Tortine di Riso Agli Agrumi (Rice Custard with Citrus)

Greg Dupree / Food Styling by Ruth Blackburn / Prop Styling by Thom Driver

Active Time:
30 mins
Total Time:
1 hrs 55 mins
4 servings

This sweet rice dish from Emiko Davies, the Tuscany-based author of the cookbook Cinnamon and Salt. 

Inspired by the classic torta di riso alla Carrarina, a special dessert from the area of Tuscany's Carrara marble quarries, this sweet rice dish’s defining feature is that as it bakes, it separates into two layers: the top transforms into a delicate, barely-set custard, while the bottom develops into a firmer layer of soft rice bound with custard. Each bite of the finished dessert combines the best of the worlds of both rice pudding and custard.

Australian cookbook author and food journalist Emiko Davies, who shared her tortine di riso recipe with Food & Wine, has been making it for years, first in her Florentine kitchen, then in her home in San Miniato, where she now lives with her sommelier husband and two daughters. 

The simplicity of the dish is part of its charm but if you want to tweak something here, play around with the aromas that go into the custard. The orange could be replaced with another citrus; lemon is especially nice in this recipe. If you are a fan, some crushed aniseed or fennel seeds are much-loved in Tuscan desserts and would go very well here. But what really makes a difference in this delicate custard is the choice of liqueur, so choose wisely. The Cointreau and Grand Marnier in this recipe have a distinct orange flavor. If you like stronger flavors, sambuca or another aniseed-scented liqueur is another good option. For more classic palates, go for rum or brandy. For a non-alcoholic version, simply leave the liquor out or add a teaspoon of orange extract.

The topping of poached, almost-candied slices of orange, although not traditional, elevates this homely dessert and highlights the subtle citrus notes of the liqueur. Let the tortine cool completely before brûléeing the top to prevent curdling.



  • Unsalted butter, softened, for greasing

  • 1/4 cup uncooked short-grain arborio rice or carnaroli rice

  • 3 large eggs

  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar

  • 2 tablespoons orange liqueur (such as Cointreau, Grand Marnier, or triple sec)

  • 1 1/2 teaspoons grated orange zest

  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

  • 1 cup whole milk, warmed


  • 1 cup plus 4 teaspoons granulated sugar, divided

  • 3/4 cup fresh orange juice

  • 1/4 cup water

  • 1 small orange, cut crosswise into thin slices


Make the tortine

  1.  Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease 4 (8-ounce) ramekins with butter, and place on a rimmed baking sheet. Set aside.

  2. Bring a medium pot of lightly salted water to a boil over medium-high. Add rice, and boil, stirring occasionally, until rice is al dente, about 10 minutes. Drain rice, and divide evenly among prepared ramekins (about 2 tablespoons each). Lightly press rice into an even layer using your fingers or the back of a spoon.

  3. Whisk together eggs, sugar, orange liqueur, orange zest, and vanilla in a medium bowl until well combined. Gradually whisk in warmed milk. Transfer custard mixture to a glass measuring cup; pour evenly over rice, filling ramekins almost to the top, leaving 1/4 inch of space from top rim.

  4. Place baking pan with filled ramekins on oven rack, and carefully pour boiling water into baking pan until it reaches halfway up sides of ramekins. Bake in preheated oven until tortine are set but still wobbly and tops are dry to the touch, about 22 minutes. Remove from oven, and transfer to a wire rack to let cool to room temperature, about 1 hour.

Meanwhile, make the topping

  1. Stir together 1 cup sugar, orange juice, and 1/4 cup water in a large skillet; add orange slices in a single layer. Bring to a gentle simmer over medium; cook, swirling skillet and flipping orange slices occasionally, until orange rinds soften and juice thickens into a light syrup, 15 to 20 minutes.

  2. Sprinkle remaining 4 teaspoons sugar evenly over tops of cooled tortine. Heat tops of tortine using a kitchen torch until sugar evenly caramelizes. Garnish tortine with orange slices, and drizzle with syrup. Serve cold or at room temperature.

To make ahead

Tortine can be prepared through step 4 up to 2 days in advance. Let cool to room temperature, and store in refrigerator. Let come to room temperature, and proceed with step 5.

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