Torta di Riso: Risotto as Dessert

“In every human being there is the artist, and whatever his activity, he has an equal chance with any to express the result of his growth and his contact with life. I don’t believe any real artist cares whether what he does is ‘art’ or not. Who, after all, knows what art is?”
― Robert Henri, The Art Spirit

We were discussing Robert Henri’s classic “The Art Spirit”.  The dynamic leader of the art book club at my library opened the discussion by asking: “What is art?  Who is an artist? ”  She had brought dessert to sweeten an animated discussion.  The cake was round in shape, perfectly golden and dusted simply with powdered sugar.   Unassuming in appearance.   But after the first bite, I was swooning.  What is in this?  What is this?  It’s sooo good!   “Torta di Riso”, answered Victoria.  La dolce vita,  I thought.  As inspiring as the art on display.  Clearly this was a woman who knows her way around a kitchen as well as around a museum!  To understand what Torta di Riso is, imagine a  not-too-sweet risotto suspended in a pillowy custardy base.  Or rice pudding in a cake.  A classic comfort food, turned into dessert.  I call it a masterpiece and its baker, an artist!


Torta Di Riso

Adapted from Patricia Well’s book Trattoria

1 c Italian Arborio rice

1 quart whole or 2% milk

pinch of fine sea salt

3/4 c vanilla sugar( store a vanilla bean in a container of sugar and you will always have some on hand), divided

unsalted butter to grease the pan

1 T semolina or fine cornmeal

3 large eggs at room temperature

grated zest of a lemon

3 T freshly squeezed lemon juice

confectioner’s sugar to dust for garnishing

1-  Combine the rice, milk, salt and 1/2 c of the sugar in a saucepan.  Stir to blend, bring to a bubbling  boiling point over medium heat.  Stir regularly to prevent sticking and to prevent boiling over.  Reduce heat to low, and simmer for about 15-20 minutes, until the milk has been absorbed and the mixture is thick like porridge.  Transfer to a mixing bowl and let cool for an hour.

2-  Preheat oven to 350F(Well says 325 but I set mine at 350).

3-  Generously butter the bottom and sides of a 9 inch springform pan.  Dust with semolina or cornmeal and shake out excess.

4-  Whisk the eggs with the remaining sugar until fluffy.  Add zest and lemon juice and mix thoroughly.  Stir in the rice mixture until just combined.  Pour into the prepared pan, smoothing top with the back of a spoon.

5-  Bake in center of oven until center is springy, about 25-30 minutes.

6-  If your cake is pale and not a rich golden color, place under the broiler for a minute or so to deepen the color.  Watch closely so as not to burn the top, like I did!  Not a good idea to check email when something is under the broiler!

7-  Let cool on a baking rack before releasing the sides of the pan.  Dust generously with confectioner’s sugar before serving.


Cornmeal dusted buttered pan.


The rice/milk mixture at the beginning of cooking


The rice mixture at the consistency of porridge.

The sumptious torta in its golden glory!



14 thoughts on “Torta di Riso: Risotto as Dessert

  1. Just beautiful Johanne. I’ve never cooked with arborio rice before, even though I know what it is. How wonderful that there was a special treat at your book club gathering at the library? I’d be visiting more often if that was an option 🙂 Would love to give this a go, love the well done parts on top.

    • We do get spoiled at this art book club! The parts of the tart that are pale were burnt and had to be cut away!!! But I will make this again. I served it at a breakfast meeting and it was gobbled up. I’ll try to get that top evenly browned next time!

      Sent from my iPad


    • I know of her Paris books. On my next trip to Paris I shall try to eat my way across the city in Liz-fashion :-)!!! I love just wandering in Paris and stumbling on the little jewel of a neighborhood bistro the locals frequent too! Time for another visit.

      Sent from my iPad


  2. Pingback: Torta di Riso: Risotto as Dessert | homethoughtsfromabroad626

  3. Pingback: Recipe Round-Up: Gluten Free Desserts | French Gardener Dishes

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