from New Vegetarian Kitchen
4 cups whole milk
1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise and seeds scraped out, OR 2 tsp vanilla bean paste
2 Tbsp butter plus extra for frying
1 cup arborio rice
1/4 cup raisins (optional)
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup sugar
2 Tbsp butter
6 Tbsp heavy cream
1. Bring the milk and vanilla bean and seeds to just below a boil in a saucepan over medium low heat, then remove the pan from the heat and let stand 5 minutes to let the vanilla infuse the milk.
2. Melt the butter in a heavy bottomed saucepan over medium low heat, add the rice, and stir 2 minutes, or until the rice is coated in the butter and glossy. Remove the vanilla bean from the milk and discard. Stir in the raisins, if using, then add the milk a little at a time. Cook, stirring continuously, 25 minutes, or until all the milk is absorbed and the rice is soft and creamy. Stir in the sugar and remove from the heat, then set aside to cool 5 minutes.
3. Line a square 7 inch baking pan or dish with parchment paper. Transfer the risotto to the dish, spreading out in an even layer. Smooth the top with wet metal spatula and let them cool completely and set.
4. Turn the rice out of the pan and cut into 9 squares, using a wet metal spatula or knife, then set aside.
5. To make the caramel drizzle, put the sugar and 3 Tbsp water in a saucepan. Heat over low heat 3 to 5 minutes, stirring continously, until it comes to a boil and the sugar dissolves. Continue to cook until the sugar turns to a deep golden color, swirling the pan occasionally instead of stirring at this stage. Remove from heat and stir in the butter, than add the cream, taking care as it might froth up and splatter. It's a good idea to wear an oven glove! Reheat over low heat, beating until smooth and creamy, then set aside.
6. Preheat the oven to 150 degrees. Over medium heat, melt enough butter to coat the bottome of a large nonstick skillet. Fry half of the risotto cakes 3 minutes on each side, or until golden, reducing the heat to medium low if necessary. Transfer the cakes to an ovenproof plate and keep warm in the oven while you cook the remaining cakes.
7. Put 2 risotto cakes on each of 4 plates. Drizzle with caramel sauce and serve.