I’m one of those people at cocktail parties who figures out where the food is coming from and stands beside the kitchen, all in the hopes of snagging a freshly cooked arancini ball. They appear on cocktail menus at almost every event, and if I wasn’t so in love with them, I’d roll my eyes every time they are served for being so unimaginative.
Let’s be honest here and break it down: arancini are risotto balls with a something delicious at the centre, then rolled in breadcrumbs and deep-fried… there is nothing better than that! Perhaps it’s just me that goes crazy for them, but I suspect it isn’t, as the arancini trend in Australia never seems to end.
What I’m surprised about though, is that you rarely find arancini dolce (sweet arancini) on menus. Given they are just as delicious as savoury arancini, I think they need a little bit of added marketing.
Quite simply, they are just arancini with added sugar and spice and all things nice. First you make a sweet fragrant liquid, then cook it into arborio rice (just as you would with stock). Once the risotto has cooled, form it into little balls, hiding a piece of chocolate in the middle, then crumb and deep-fry it. As you bite into it, the chocolate will melt and ooze out of the arancini.
I’m not even sure I need to go on…
Arancini dolce con cioccolato (sweet arancini with chocolate)
Prep time: 20 mins
Cook time: 45 mins
Cool/chill time: 20 mins
Total time: 85 mins
- 750ml water
- 100g caster sugar
- Finely grated zest of 1 orange
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 1 tsp vanilla bean paste
- 2 tbsp unsalted butter
- 250g arborio rice
- 150g dark chocolate, cut into 12 small squares
- 2 eggs, beaten
- 1 tbsp milk
- 1 1/2 cups dried breadcrumbs
- Grapeseed oil, for frying
- Icing sugar and caramel or chocolate sauce, to serve (optional)
- Combine water, sugar, orange zest, cinnamon and vanilla bean paste in a medium heavy-based saucepan over medium-high heat, stirring to dissolve the sugar, then bring to a gentle boil. Boil for 6 minutes, then lower heat to a gentle simmer.
- In a large saucepan over medium heat, melt the butter. Add the arborio rice and toast, stirring constantly until the rice smells nutty, about 4 minutes. Lower the heat to medium-low, then add a ladle of the flavoured water (avoiding the cinnamon stick) and stir until the water is absorbed by the rice. Repeat with the remaining water, only adding another ladle once the last has been absorbed and stirring frequently. It should take about 20 minutes to use all the water, but this will vary depending on your cooktop and the quality of the rice. To check if it’s cooked like a real Italian, you need to taste the rice – you should be able to feel a slight resistance from the pearl of grain when you bite through the centre (this is al dente).
- Transfer the sweet risotto to a large dish to cool. You can speed up the cooling by placing the mixture in the fridge – it will become easier to handle and stick together as it cools.
- Once cool, take a handful of rice in your palm (about 2 tablespoons) and make a depression in the middle. Add a square of chocolate to the centre and then wrap the rice around the chocolate and form into a ball. Repeat with remaining rice and chocolate.
- Combine the egg with the milk in a shallow bowl and place the breadcrumbs in another bowl. Dip each rice ball in the egg mixture, and then in the breadcrumbs, ensuring they are well coated.
- Heat oil in a medium heavy-based saucepan, ensuring it is no more than one-third full, until it is 170°C on a kitchen thermometer (or until a cube of bread sizzles on impact with the oil). Working in batches, cook the arancini for 4-5 minutes until they are golden brown on the outside. Remove with a slotted spoon and drain on paper towel.
- Serve immediately as is or dusted with icing sugar and topped with a drizzle of caramel or chocolate sauce.
Grapeseed oil is better for deep-frying sweet desserts as it is nearly flavourless so offers a cleaner taste.
Amanda Michetti started the Italian-led recipe blog Chew Town five years ago. Its aim is to both document her family's recipes and show readers that great food deserves to taste delicious, look great and be simple enough for everyone to try. In recent times, Amanda has left her day job and now works as a freelance food photographer and recipe developer with her work showcased here.