Step 1Rinse the Arborio rice several times until the water runs clear. This is very important, so that the rice will be evenly cooked and there will be no al dente grains.
Step 2In a heavy saucepan, bring the 2 cups water, a pinch of salt and the cinnamon stick to a simmer over high heat. Add the rice and simmer until it has absorbed the water, about 10 minutes.
Step 3Stir in the half-and-half and bring the mixture to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to a very gentle simmer and cook for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally (be sure to stir the bottom of the pan to prevent the rice from sticking; if it burns, you will need to start over). Depending on how quickly the rice absorbs the liquid, you may need to add a little more water or half-and-half.
Step 4Stir in the cream, brown sugar, condensed milk and vanilla extract. Continue to simmer gently, stirring frequently, until the rice is very thick and creamy (it should have no "bite" whatsoever), about 20 to 30 minutes. Remove from heat.
Step 5While the mixture is still very hot, adjust the consistency as needed with additional cream. (It should be rather thin, as it will thicken dramatically as it cools; it will be easier to finish the rice for service if it is not too thick.) Taste the rice and adjust the flavor with more salt and sugar as desired.
Step 6Move the rice to a medium bowl and cover with plastic wrap pressed flat against the surface (this will prevent a skin from forming). Refrigerate the rice until chilled.
Step 1In a medium saucepan, combine the sugar and water. Bring the mixture to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer until the mixture caramelizes to a light golden brown. (Do not stir the sugar once it begins to bubble, and brush the sides of the pan with water to keep the sugar from crystallizing -- if it crystallizes, you will need to start over.)
Step 2While the sugar is cooking, combine the orange peel and cream in a small saucepan over high heat. Scald the cream, then remove from heat.
Step 3When the sugar has caramelized, add the butter and stir slowly with a wooden spoon, being careful not to seize the caramel. Slowly add in the hot cream, being careful of the hot steam.
Step 4Season the caramel with a pinch of salt, and reserve in a warm place. This makes a scant 1 cup caramel.
Step 1Heat the oven to 350 degrees. Butter a rimmed sheet pan and set it aside.
Step 2Toss the almonds with the olive oil and a sprinkling of fleur de sel. Place the almonds on a baking sheet (not the buttered pan) and toast until golden and aromatic, about 4 to 6 minutes. Set aside in a warm place.
Step 3While the almonds are toasting, in a small heavy-bottom saucepan over medium-high heat, combine the sugar and water and cook until the mixture begins to boil. (Use a small brush dipped in cold water to brush down sugar crystals that cling to sides of pan.)
Step 4Boil the sugar without stirring until a candy thermometer inserted reads 310 degrees (hard-crack stage); the sugar should be golden. Remove from heat and stir in the warm toasted almonds and baking soda, if using.
Step 5Immediately pour the mixture onto the buttered sheet pan, spreading it into an even layer with a metal spatula. Sprinkle over a pinch of fleur de sel, then set the mixture aside until hardened, about 30 minutes.
Step 6Break the brittle, crushing it to desired consistency.
Step 1Spoon the chilled rice pudding base into a large bowl and fold in whipped cream until the mixture has achieved a sufficiently fluffy and light consistency. (This makes a generous 6 cups pudding.)
Step 2Spoon the pudding into bowls and garnish with the warm caramel and crushed almond brittle. Serve immediately.