My family background is Scandinavian, and there was no season that those roots came out more than at Christmastide—especially the Danish side. From the traditional folded stars and hearts hung on the tree to all the red and white decorations. With paper cut-outs of julenissen ornaments perched on shelves and picture frames, you wouldn’t have a hard time guessing our heritage. The paper Danish flags on the Christmas tree would be an obvious hint if the rest was baffling to you.
Our Christmas dinners were a little less Scandinavian. We had the traditional turkey and cranberry sauce, but we were also known to order sushi from the one sushi place open on Christmas Eve. The meal seldomly resembled a traditional Danish Christmas dinner. However, there was one staple dessert that was made every year.
This dessert is risalamande—this word comes from the French ris à l’amande—which literally means “rice and almonds”. It’s a pudding made of rice, chopped almonds, and whipped cream. Usually there is one whole almond hidden in the pudding, and whoever finds it in their bowl is entitled to a prize. Our prize was often a box of chocolates, and we could get very competitive over it. This pudding is typically served with a cherry syrup as well, called kirsebærsovs—literally “cherry sauce”.
There are a lot of different online recipes for this dish, many of which are far more extravagant than the kind we made. This is how our family made it, and if you’re as lazy as I am in the kitchen, but you still want a dessert that tastes good, this is a good go-to.
This recipe isn’t for the lactose-intolerant, nor those with nut allergies, but it is gluten-free!
RISALAMANDE WITH KIRSEBÆRSOVS
(RICE AND ALMOND PUDDING WITH CHERRY SAUCE)
Kirsebærsovs (Cherry Sauce)
- 1 ½ cup Evans cherries or any similar sour cherry, pitted
- ½ cup sugar
- Water, as needed
- Put cherries in small saucepan over a medium-low heat. Put water in saucepan until cherries are nearly covered. Bring to a boil while stirring and then turn to a low heat.
- Add sugar gradually to mixture. Continue stirring until liquid is syrupy in consistency.
- Remove from heat and cool in the fridge. Serve in a separate bowl with a ladle.
Risalamande (Rice and Almond Pudding)
- 2 ½ cups white rice, cooked
- 1 473 mL carton of whipping cream
- ½ cup almonds, chopped (leave one whole)
- ½ tsp. almond extract
- ½ tsp. vanilla extract (optional)
- Cook 2 ½ cups of white rice. Cool in fridge; hot rice will liquify the whipped cream.
- In a separate bowl, mix together almond extract, whipping cream, and optional vanilla extract. Whip until light and fluffy. Note: you do not have to use all the whipping cream if you want a thicker pudding.
- Chop almonds. Leave one whole almond to find. For best results, leave a couple almonds with only one slice missing to fool people.
- Combine rice, whipping cream, and almonds in a large serving bowl. For a thicker pudding, use less whipped cream. For a fluffier pudding, use more whipped cream. Mix thoroughly, then put in fridge to chill.
Serve the pudding in a large serving bowl and allow guests to collect their preferred portion size. This dessert can be quite rich and filling. Each can ladle the sauce onto their own serving to taste.