Alcatraz & Cinnamon Sugar Rice Pudding with Bourbon Soaked Raisins


After my week in sunny Los Angeles, I flew to San Francisco for the weekend. I’ve been to San Francisco many times but planned something new for this trip — a visit to Alcatraz.

Because tickets typically sell out quickly, I’d only ever managed to see the Rock from the piers.


So this year, when I booked my flights, I also booked a ticket on Alcatraz Cruises, a hybrid ferry powered in part by solar panels and wind turbines.


The ride itself was worth the ticket fee just to see the gorgeous views of the Golden Gate Bridge and San Francisco skyline.IMG_3708At the end of the 1.5 mile ride, as the boat docked, I was awed by the size and condition of the buildings on the island.

I couldn’t wait to head up the hill to start the tour and begin exploring.

It wasn’t long before I realized I had picked the perfect time to visit! Late afternoon in the fall, the sun provided exquisite lighting for photography,


and highlighted the beauty of the deteriorating buildings.IMG_3751While visiting this national park, I expected to learn about the penitentiary’s notable inmates, the American Indian Occupation, and the island’s military history, but I was surprised by the dense vegetation that covered what seemed like such an inhospitable climate.


Across the 22 acres, there were beautiful flowers in the most unlikely of locations.


In fact, Alcatraz is home to rare flora and wildlife; I could easily see why restoring the gardens is a priority


along with preserving the buildings.


Inside, I continued to be fascinated by what was outside! I couldn’t stop thinking about what it must have been like only to see the trees and the spectacular views of the bay


through bars in the dining hall

or the city skyline through foggy windows in the cell block.


On my walk back to Union Square from Alcatraz, I strolled through the Russian Hill neighborhood to stop at The Loving Cup, IMG_3887

a rice pudding shop with wonderful gourmet rice puddings, including a delicious Madagascar Vanilla Bean. IMG_3890

It struck me that, just like Alcatraz Island, rice pudding is really versatile! It’s good warm, cold, fresh, leftover, for company, or a casual dinner dessert…I’ve even been known to eat it for breakfast. But if I’m going to make rice pudding, it’s always Cinnamon Sugar Rice Pudding with Bourbon Soaked Raisins.

Though I typically put my own spin on a recipe, this one from Brown Eyed Baker is perfect as is! No modifications or substitutions necessary. Just a heads up: once the heat is reduced to low, I find it takes another 25 minutes* to thicken, as opposed to 15.


Click Here to Visit Brown Eyed Baker and Print This Recipe.


  • ¾ cup raisins
  • 3 tablespoons bourbon
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 cup medium-grain white rice
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 2½ cups whole milk
  • 2½ cups half-and-half
  • 2/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 1½ teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon


  • Combine the raisins and the bourbon together in a small saucepan and bring to a simmer over medium heat. As soon as it reaches a simmer, remove from heat, cover, and set aside.
  • Bring 2 cups water to boil in large, heavy-bottomed pot (at least 3 quarts). Stir in the rice and salt; cover and simmer over low heat, stirring once or twice until the water is almost fully absorbed, 15 to 20 minutes.
  • Add the milk, half-and-half, and sugar. Increase the heat to medium-high to bring to a simmer, then reduce heat to maintain simmer without boiling. Cook uncovered, stirring frequently, until the mixture starts to thicken, about 30 minutes. Reduce heat to low and continue to cook, stirring every couple of minutes to prevent sticking and scorching, until a spoon is just able to stand up in the pudding, about 15 minutes* longer.
  • Remove the pot from the heat and stir in the raisins (with any extra bourbon), vanilla extract, and cinnamon. Serve warm, at room temperature, or chilled.





12 responses

  1. Wow Alyssa your photos are beautiful. You certainly have an eye for beauty no matter where it may be. Mom loves rice pudding so I think I’ll try this just for her. After all she will be 97 this Sunday.

  2. I’m sure it’s due to the flora that so many birds flock to the island. No wonder Robert Stroud, the Birdman of Alcatraz, had the opportunity to experiment and find the many cures for sick birds (actually I think he did most of his work when he was at Levinworth). You’re so right that rice pudding is good hot, cold, for a snack or dessert. Another winner!

  3. Hey Alyssa,
    The pictures are super, really enjoy seeing them and trying out the recipe. Steve loves rice pudding, so I will give it a whirl when he comes this weekend!

  4. Your beautiful pictures brought back fond memories of our trip.
    Rice pudding is a favorite in our house, but your recipe tops them all!

  5. Agree with KW that you have an eye for beauty wherever it may be. Beautiful photos of and from Alcatraz – I didn’t think it could be so scenic! The rice pudding recipe is hands-down a winner and one of the best. A real favorite.

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