I’m all about multitasking right now.

Crispy Goat Cheese Risotto Cakes with Vanilla Salted Winter Pears I howsweeteats.com

Buying cute candy cane twine at Target for gift-wrapping while also finding foyer furniture and getting neon pink (I KNOW) wrapping paper for later in life? Been there done that. I might wallpaper my walls in neon pink right now. Some people want a chalkboard wall… I want a neon wall. Okay, and a chalkboard wall.

Wrapping said Christmas presents (I’m so on top of things this year, please pat me on the back) while watching Christmas Vacation while voice-recording recipes and sorting mail? It’s happening.

Making really bad faux holiday wreaths slash pineapples with my food while eating it? Uh huh. Having a cappuccino with a glug of Baileys? Maybe.

Crispy Goat Cheese Risotto Cakes with Vanilla Salted Winter Pears I howsweeteats.com

Eating some mint chocolate covered pretzel crisps (no, seriously… just kill me) while writing to my invisible internet friends? Check.

Stuffing my face with risotto cakes that can do triple duty as an appetizer, entrée or side dish? Check check check. Done.

I need a minute.

As usual, this is one of my new favorite things and, well… don’t even ask me about my favorite things. They change every week depending on my mood and stuff. I mean, we are even talking songs and books and movies and shoes. You know. All the important things.

Are you like this? Is this normal? Are your favorite things quite dependent on the color of your mood ring? Please say you still have one. If not… let’s go to Claire’s today and get one.

I feel that my whole day may be turned around by the shade of my mood. Read: someone should create a neon mood ring. It should probably be me. I’ll patent that shiz. (not really. I don’t know anything.)

Crispy Goat Cheese Risotto Cakes with Vanilla Salted Winter Pears I howsweeteats.com

The first time I ever encountered a rice ball was years ago at the beach when we ordered some great pizza and sandwiches from a little Italian place in Wildwood. My cousin was so in love with the rice balls that to this day, she still talks about them. This is my little trashed up version with a touch of goat cheese – and instead of deep frying them, I threw them in the skillet with some olive oil and called it a day. Ain’t nobody got time for deep frying right now.

Remember my favorite old school mashed potato pancakes? I used the same method here. Some leftover (cold!) risotto, a bunch of goat cheese and a bit of flour. I’m giving you a guide measure for the flour below, but it really depends on how liquidy your risotto is. You may need a little more or even a little less flour, and it might be different every single time you make them. They are just soooooo high maintenance. And worth it. Because it seems that come every holiday season, risotto is my thing. Last year I made this sweet potato risotto and the year before that, I made this red wine risotto. Do not fear risotto. It’s so darn simple once you do it a few times.

Crispy Goat Cheese Risotto Cakes with Vanilla Salted Winter Pears I howsweeteats.com

After consuming these a handful of times, I really felt that they needed… something… on top that didn’t come from a store-bought jar. We’ve done salsa and jams and obviously fruit salsa (what is my life without it?) and I’m sure you’re shocked (but not at all) to know that Eddie has dredged his through a boatload of ketchup. But I wanted a topping that went exclusively with the cakes and fit the season too. So I sautéed some pears with vanilla bean salt and thyme, then pilled all of it high on top

of my goat cheese cake mountain.

Three words: go.to.town.

I’m kind of in love with these little things because they go with EVERYTHING. Eddie ate them as a side with some chicken a few weeks ago and I’ve been throwing them on salads. It’s like adding a crispy hunk of goat cheese to your greens but heartier. More filling and all that jazz. Plus, these are just kind of Christmasy. And who doesn’t want to eat things that are Christmasy?

Crispy Goat Cheese Risotto Cakes with Vanilla Salted Winter Pears I howsweeteats.com


Crispy Goat Cheese Risotto Cakes with Warm Winter Pears

Yield: serves 2 to 4

Total Time: 1 hour (plus fridge chilling time)


4 tablespoons olive oil
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 cup arborio rice
1 1/2 cups dry white wine
3 to 4 cups low-sodium chicken stock, warmed
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1 pinch of crushed red pepper flakes
1/4-1/3 cup flour
8 ounces goat cheese
1 cup panko bread crumbs
2/3 cup fine bread crumbs

warm winter pears
1/2 vanilla bean, seeds scraped
1 1/2 teaspoons flaked sea salt
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
2 pears, chopped into 1/2-inch cubes
1 tablespoon honey
2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme


In a large saucepan heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil over medium heat. Once hot, add the garlic and cook for 15 seconds. Add the rice, tossing to coat in the oil, then toast the rice while stirring occasionally for 3-4 minutes. Add in the wine, stirring every few minutes until it is absorbed. Once the wine is absorbed, add in 1 cup of stock, stirring until absorbed like you did with the wine. Repeat 2 to 3 more times, until all stock has been added and absorbed. This should take about 15 to 20 minutes – I do not stir constantly, but actually just keep an eye on it and stir every few minutes. Taste the rice and determine if it is cooked to your liking (if not, add in 1 more cup of stock and stir, repeating the process). Unlike regular risotto, I cook mine here until all liquid is absorbed, just so the patties stick together better.

Once the risotto is cooked, let it cool completely. You can do this the night before or a day ahead of time. Add the risotto to a bowl, cover it with plastic wrap and place it in the fridge until it's chilled. When you're ready to make the cakes, stir the flour into the risotto. Crumble the goat cheese into the mixture and stir until it's evenly combined. If needed, add a little more flour until the mixture is just moldable.

Add the breadcrumbs to a bowl and mix. Heat a large skillet over medium heat and add the remaining olive oil (in batches, if necessary). Form the risotto mixture into equal-sized cakes about 2 inches in diameter. Roll the cakes in the breadcrumbs and place them in the skillet, cooking until golden brown, about 4 to 5 minutes per side. Remove each cake and let it sit on a paper towel for a few minutes before serving. Top with the pears.

warm winter pears
To make the vanilla salt, add the vanilla beans and salt together in a bowl. Rub it together with your fingers to disperse the beans - you can do this ahead of time and keep it in a sealed container. You can easily make more or less!

Heat a large skillet over medium heat and add olive oil and butter. Add the pears with 1/2 teaspoon of the vanilla salt and toss to coat, cooking until the pears softened slightly, about 5 minutes. Drizzle in the honey and toss. Add the thyme and cook for another 2 minutes. Place the pears and any liquid in the skillet in a bowl for serving. Use the remaining vanilla salt if needed to season the dish or keep it sealed in a container for another use.

crispy risotto cakes I howsweeteats.com-1

Please note that cheesiness. The cakes. Not me.

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40 Responses to “Crispy Goat Cheese Risotto Cakes with Vanilla Salted Winter Pears.”

  1. #
    Jennifer @ Peanut Butter and Peppers — December 16, 2013 @ 8:15 am

    Girl, this is a very unique combo! I am so loving the winter pears and the risitto cakes, perfect! I am so loving this dish and can see it ans the perfect appetizer for New Years!!!


  2. #
    Meg Jones | The Spatularettes — December 16, 2013 @ 8:17 am

    Um um um um um… I have leftover risotto in my fridge. There are peas and red peppers in the risotto. Therefore when I pat it into cakes and FRY it in a pan, it will still be healthy. This Monday is toatally looking up!


  3. #
    Amanda @ Food, Fitness, Faith — December 16, 2013 @ 8:39 am

    That wreath of cakes at the end! Gah, it got me! So festive, so fun! I love that this gives me another option for leftover risotto besides just attempting to reheat the stuff and make it palatable again (doesn’t always work, right?).


  4. #
    Angela @ Eat Spin Run Repeat — December 16, 2013 @ 8:42 am

    You have become quite the multitasker Jess!! And LOL about the mood ring and Claire’s comment. I remember back when I was about 12, my cousin and I bought the same ones (yes, from Claire’s) and when we were away on holiday, she lost hers. We literally turned the hotel room upside down trying to find it – you’d think it was a wedding ring or something! Happy Monday!


  5. #
    Tieghan — December 16, 2013 @ 8:53 am

    I am slowly learning that multi tasking is a must. It is taking time to figure out just how to do it, but life is freaking busy and multi tasking is a must!

    Love this combo, although pears are not really my things I still think I would love this. Vanilla salt is so good!


  6. #
    Ali @ Inspiralized — December 16, 2013 @ 9:02 am

    These are totally incredible! Beautiful food styling too!


  7. #
    Belinda@themoonblushbaker — December 16, 2013 @ 9:14 am

    Multi tasking is unavoidable in today’s day and age. I have failed at multitasking many time before, often resulting in a car crash of a day. Oh well I can just keep on trucking and try to get better, I think you doing a great job at multitasking, you are so busy!

    I love good fry cake, especially these little sweet beauties


  8. #
    Brie @ Entrée the Giant — December 16, 2013 @ 9:30 am

    I mean this in the best of ways – I would destroy that wreath of risotto cakes. Mmm!


  9. #
    Jen@topateplate — December 16, 2013 @ 9:37 am

    Are you kidding me with this? I need to make it immediately and it’s 9:00AM! Love it!


  10. #
    Averie @ Averie Cooks — December 16, 2013 @ 9:44 am

    Warm winter pears. SWOON! I would love those. Pears are such an under-rated fruit, I find.

    The styling on the opening photo is so festive and fabulous. It looks like a risotto cake wreath of sorts to me :) Love it! You’re so creative & I know you say you’re ‘not that into photography’ but you always amaze me!


  11. #
    Ashley — December 16, 2013 @ 9:45 am

    Yes. Want these on top of all the salads!


  12. #
    Laura (Blogging Over Thyme) — December 16, 2013 @ 10:20 am

    This looks so interesting!! Especially with the vanilla salted winter pears. Really really want to try this. And pretty much anything with goat cheese makes me happy.


  13. #
    Katrina @ WVS — December 16, 2013 @ 10:35 am

    Yes, please! These look great!


  14. #
    Molly (Yes to Yolks) — December 16, 2013 @ 10:48 am

    These look and sound great! I love risotto, I love goat cheese, and I love this post. Next time I’m making risotto, i’ll plan to make a lil extra just so I can try these out. YUM! Also, this is the season of multi-tasking for me. It’s a necessary evil. I love-hate it.


  15. #
    Christine @ Cooking with Cakes — December 16, 2013 @ 11:09 am

    having the patience to make risotto… thennn fry them into cakes? that’s dedication girrrrl. delish!


  16. #
    DeLallo Foods — December 16, 2013 @ 12:10 pm

    Love the recipe! Risotto cakes are perfect for entertaining and with the goat cheese? YUM.


  17. #
    Tracy | Peanut Butter And Onion — December 16, 2013 @ 12:24 pm

    What a great way to use leftover risotto, well in my case I would have to put some aside..;)


  18. #
    Taylor @ FoodFaithFitness — December 16, 2013 @ 12:37 pm

    What a unique combination! I am so all over stuff like this. I actually have never made risotto…but I have been wanting to. Girl, you just gave me 3 good reasons to! Goat cheese, vanilla and pears. YUM


  19. #
    RavieNomNoms — December 16, 2013 @ 12:43 pm

    YUM, I love goat cheese and that extra added crunch is just so tasty!


  20. #
    Mallory @ Because I Like Chocolate — December 16, 2013 @ 1:29 pm

    So nice to see goat cheese and pears paired (haha) in something other than salad!


  21. #
    lacy — December 16, 2013 @ 2:18 pm



  22. #
    Lily @ Life, Love, and Cupcakes — December 16, 2013 @ 2:22 pm

    Gahh now I need to make risotto this week so I can make these from the leftovers…I know my boyfriend would LOVE these!


  23. #
    Kylie — December 16, 2013 @ 2:42 pm

    I don’t like goat cheese…but I am one thousand percent obsessed with your risotto wreath! Made my week forsure.


  24. #
    DessertForTwo — December 16, 2013 @ 3:51 pm

    I so want this! On top of my salad, as my main entree, as a side dish to all dinner possibilities in the world, for dessert! Love this flavor combo!


  25. #
    Courtney — December 16, 2013 @ 4:02 pm

    Holyyyyy moly, these look divine. And could easily be substituted for feta or any kinda cheese, so it seems. Is there anything that could be used in place of wine?


  26. #
    Kristen — December 16, 2013 @ 4:09 pm

    This has nothing to do with risotta, but I was having a royally ca-rap-py day on Friday, so I made your snickerdoodles with brown butter and 1/2 C white sugar, 1/4 cup brown sugar. I may or may not have had cookies and bubbly for dinner. This venture yet again proved that eating your feelings isn’t healthy, but it’s damn effective.


  27. #
    Bev @ Bev Cooks — December 16, 2013 @ 4:43 pm

    I’m adding these to my hospital bag list.


  28. #
    Eileen — December 16, 2013 @ 4:45 pm

    Risotto cakes are the best! I’ve never heard of using pears as a garnish quite like this–definitely most intriguing!


  29. #
    Brittany — December 17, 2013 @ 10:38 am

    I’m obsessed with that red and white twine right now. I’ve been wrapping all my baked goods in it!


  30. #
    Ashley Elaine — December 17, 2013 @ 12:19 pm

    Girl. You’re killin’ me. You’re really killin me.


  31. #
    Lauren — December 17, 2013 @ 3:11 pm

    YUM!!! Risotto is on the Christmas menu this year and I’ve been looking for round two recipes for arancini so thanks for the post!



  32. #
    Michelle @ A Healthy Mrs — December 17, 2013 @ 3:33 pm

    These sound so interesting & delicious!


  33. #
    Kristin Nicole — December 18, 2013 @ 5:00 pm

    Risotto… YES PLEASE – Fried into a delicious crispy goat cheese cake… UMMM YES!


  34. #
    Lauren Hardy — December 18, 2013 @ 5:45 pm

    Um, yum! Forget eating these with a fork…because it’s finger licking fantastic. :)


  35. #
    Larry — December 19, 2013 @ 2:17 pm

    Ummmmmm yes. Feed me know all of the Christmasy things and cheese and deliciousness.


  36. #
    Alyssa — December 26, 2013 @ 4:34 pm

    I’m making these tonight and I’m not gonna lie – I’m SUPER excited. My boyfriend is out for the evening, which means I don’t have to cook meat in order to have dinner – Yayy!! Lol
    I have some fabulous Harry & David Royal Riviera pears that we received at my office for Christmas which I think will be amazing here. My only problem is that I don’t have vanilla beans, but I do have Madagascar Bourbon Vanilla, which I bought as an early Christmas gift to MYSELF. i’m going to try and figure that part out soooo.. wish me luck!! :D



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