- In a large, heavy pan, combine the rice, milk, and sugar. Bring to a gentle boil over high heat, lower the heat to medium, and continue to cook for 30 to 40 minutes. Stir frequently to prevent the rice from sticking to the bottom of the pan and to help release the starch from the rice. The mixture should be gently boiling the entire time; never let it come to a hard rolling boil. The rice should look very creamy, with a slight firmness but also cooked through. If you're serving the rice pudding cold, stop cooking when it still looks a bit runny. It will firm up as it chills in the refrigerator.
- During the last 10 minutes of cooking, add in the figs (to serve the rice pudding cold, just add the figs when you finish cooking the rice entirely).
- Remove the pan from the heat, and stir in the vanilla.
- If serving the rice pudding warm, add d cup of the rice pudding to small dessert glasses. (Shot glasses work well; the pudding will pile high.) Dust the top of each serving with cinnamon, if desired. If serving the rice pudding cold, pour it from the pot into a bowl. Cover the surface of the pudding with plastic wrap (to prevent a skin from forming on the surface of the rice) and refrigerate for several hours. Proceed as above to fill the dessert glasses.
Note: When serving leftovers, add a bit of milk if the texture has become too firm.