Biba's Rice Cake


This classic Bolognese dessert, brought to us by chef Biba Caggiano, is made from a batter of slow-cooked Arborio rice and crumbled Amaretti di Saronno cookies.


  • 4 cups milk

  • ½ cup plus 2 ½ tablespoons granulated sugar

  • Grated zest of 1 lemon

  • 1 cup Arborio rice

  • Unsalted butter, for baking pan

  • 2 to 3 tablespoons fine dry breadcrumbs

  • 3 large or 12 small Amaretti di Saronno cookies

  • ¾ cup plus 3 tablespoons whole blanched almonds

  • 3 large eggs

  • 2 tablespoons amaretto or dark rum

  • 2 large egg whites, room temperature

  • Confectioners' sugar, for serving


  1. In a medium saucepan, combine the milk with 1/2 cup granulated sugar and the lemon zest over medium heat, and bring to a boil. Add the rice, reduce heat to medium low, and simmer, uncovered, stirring, until rice is tender and milk has been absorbed, about 40 minutes. During the last few minutes of cooking, stir rice constantly. The rice should have the consistency of a thick porridge. Transfer rice to a large bowl, and cool to room temperature.

  2. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Butter an 8- or 9-inch round baking pan. Sprinkle the breadcrumbs over the bottom and sides of the pan, then turn the pan upside down and shake out excess crumbs.

  3. Place the amaretti and almonds in the bowl of a food processor, and finely chop, but do not pulverize. Add to cooled rice. In a large separate bowl, beat eggs until thick and pale yellow. Add amaretto; mix well. Add to cooled rice mixture; stir to combine.

  4. In a medium bowl, beat the egg whites with the remaining 2 1/2 tablespoons sugar until stiff. Fold the egg whites into the rice mixture. Pour the batter into prepared pan, and shake pan lightly to distribute batter evenly.

  5. Place pan on the middle rack of the oven, and bake until top of cake is golden brown and a thin knife inserted in the center comes out clean, 30 to 35 minutes. Let cool on a rack to room temperature. (The cake can be prepared up to a day ahead. Let cool, cover, and refrigerate. Bring to room temperature before serving.)

  6. Remove cake from pan, and place on a round serving plate. Sprinkle with confectioners' sugar, and serve.

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