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Risalamande (Danish Almond Rice Pudding)

 

The most popular Danish Christmas dessert, Risalamande is a wonderfully creamy almond rice pudding that is served topped with a delicious cherry sauce!

Risengrød, or rice pudding, has been a beloved dish in Denmark for centuries, a dish enjoyed by rich and poor alike.  But in the 1800’s, as was the case in most of Europe, there came a point when the upper-crusted bourgeoisie wanted to further distinguish themselves from the poorer, working classes and that distinction included food.  But the bourgeoisie weren’t about to give up their beloved Risengrød.  Yet to eat the common food of the poor farmers wouldn’t do either.

A solution was found:  They would add some luxurious items like whipped cream and almonds and then give it a new name, a French name, of course, riz à l’amande, to give it an air of elegance.  To borrow an American phrase, now the bourgeoisie would have their cake and eat it too.

Risalamande has remained one of the most popular of all Danish desserts ever since.  It is probably the most popular Christmas dessert, served every Christmas Eve following dinner.  As already mentioned, the name comes from the French, riz à l’amande, which translates to “rice with almonds.”  But the almonds are only one aspect of what sets this rice pudding apart from all others.

The base is a typical rice pudding like you would find anywhere (except that I add lemon zest which bumps it up a hundred notches), but what sets Risalamande apart is what you do with that base pudding:  You add chopped almonds, fold in vanilla-infused whipped cream, and served it topped with a silky cherry sauce.  It’s simple, elegant and thoroughly delicious!

Like many western European desserts, it isn’t overly sweet, but between the bit of sugar and the sweet cherry sauce it’s just the right amount of sweetness.

There’s a fun Christmas tradition that accompanies this dessert:  The cook hides one whole almond in the rice pudding and whoever finds it in their serving wins a present.  The catch:  Everyone has to keep eating until the almond is found, no matter how full they are!

My husband and I both have ancestry from Denmark.  Both of us have great grandparents that immigrated to the U.S. from Denmark and we’ve had the privilege of visiting this beautiful country.  My husband’s maternal side of the family is particular proud of their heritage.

The architecture, especially in the first picture of the houses along the canal, is similar to that of the port towns of North Germany.  The food is also similar – lots of fish, meat and potatoes.  They also have a pastry in common:  It’s what the Danish call Æbleskiver and the north Germans call Pförtchen.  And although I’m from Germany, I’ll steer clear of the hot debate as to where the pastry actually originated!

Back to our rice pudding….Though this dish is traditionally eaten on Christmas Eve in Denmark, don’t let that stop you from enjoying it any time of the year because it’s scrumptious!

Let’s get started!

Bring the rice, salt, lemon zest, sugar and water to a boil in a medium-sized stock pot.  Boil for 3 minutes, add the milk and return to a boil.  Reduce the heat to low, cover and simmer for 30-35 minutes, stirring occasionally, increasing the frequency during the last 10 minutes to prevent scorching.  Stir in the chopped blanched almonds.

Let the rice cool and then chill for several hours or overnight.

Beat the cream until it starts to thicken.  Add the sugar, vanilla bean paste and almond extract and beat until stiff peaks form.  Be careful not to over-beat.  (Note:  The rice will may be very stiff.  Stir it to loosen it up and then stir it more after the cream has been added to break up any clumps.)  Stir the cream mixture into the rice pudding.

Serve the rice at room temperature with warm Cherry Sauce.

For garnish you can include a small sprig of mint.

Enjoy and Glædelig Jul og Godt Nytår!

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Risalamande (Danish Almond Rice Pudding with Cherry Sauce)

Wonderfully creamy and delightfully flavorful, this famous rice pudding is sure to win you over!

Prep Time10 mins

Cook Time40 mins

Total Time50 mins

Course: Dessert

Cuisine: danish

Calories: 656kcal

Author: Kimberly Killebrew

Instructions

  • Bring the rice, salt, lemon zest, sugar and water to a boil in a medium-sized stock pot. Boil for 3 minutes, add the milk and return to a boil. Reduce the heat to low, cover and simmer for 30-35 minutes, stirring occasionally, increasing the frequency during the last 10 minutes to prevent scorching. Stir in the chopped blanched almonds.
  • Let the rice cool and then chill for several hours or overnight.
  • Beat the cream until it starts to thicken. Add the sugar, vanilla bean paste and almond extract and beat until stiff peaks form. Be careful not to over-beat. (Note: The rice will may be very stiff. Stir it to loosen it up and then stir it more after the cream has been added to break up any clumps.)
  • Serve the Risalamande at room temperature with the warm cherry sauce.

Notes

You can make the Risalamande a day ahead, then pull it out of the fridge to warm it up to room temperature and serve it with warm cherry sauce.

Serving: 1serving | Calories: 656kcal | Carbohydrates: 53g | Protein: 12g | Fat: 44g | Saturated Fat: 22g | Cholesterol: 124mg | Sodium: 200mg | Potassium: 432mg | Fiber: 3g | Sugar: 22g | Vitamin A: 1430IU | Vitamin C: 1.3mg | Calcium: 285mg | Iron: 2.2mg