One of my favorite desserts of all time is rich and creamy rice pudding. I hadn't made this pudding before, so when I was asked to make Risalamande for Anna and Vince’s Danish Christmas dinner, I was excited to try this new dessert recipe.
Risalamande (riz à l’amande) is probably the most famous Danish Christmas dessert and is traditionally eaten on Christmas Eve. The name comes from the French, meaning “rice with almonds.” The base of this dessert is basic rice pudding with added vanilla, whipped cream and crushed almonds. It isn’t overly sweet, and the richness of the silky cherry sauce makes it irresistibly delicious.
When making the dessert in Denmark, it is customary to hide a whole almond somewhere in the pudding as the person who finds it in his or her serving wins a prize. The person who finds the almond keeps it in the corner of the mouth until everyone is finished so that everyone thinks that they might win. The prize is usually a small marzipan pig or chocolate heart.
This dish is traditionally eaten on Christmas Eve, but don’t wait until Christmas. Once you've tasted this Danish treat, you'll definitely want to enjoy it year round!
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Risalamande (Danish Rice Pudding)
- 2 cups whole milk
- 3 cups skim milk
- 2/3 cup sugar, divided
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1 cup Arborio rice, risotto rice
- 1 cup heavy whipping cream
- 1/2 teaspoon good quality almond extract, divided
- 1 cup blanched almonds, finely chopped and slightly toasted (see Gr8 Tip below)
- 1 whole blanched almond
- 1 Tablespoon vanilla bean paste , or 1 vanilla bean split lengthwise and scraped (do not use vanilla extract)
- 1 24-ounce jar Morello cherries in light syrup, available at Traders Joe's or specialty stores
- 2 Tablespoons cornstarch
- 1/4 cup water
- 3 Tablespoons butter
- Bring milk, 5 Tablespoons of sugar, salt and rice to a boil in a large pot.
- Turn the heat to low, cover and simmer, until rice is tender, stirring every 3-4 minutes for approximately 35 minutes, to prevent the rice and milk from burning. It can burn very quickly.
- Once rice is thickened and cooked, pour rice mixture into a large bowl to cool.
- While rice is cooling, in a medium well-chilled bowl (stainless works best) add whipping cream, 1/4 teaspoon almond extract and 2 Tablespoons of the sugar.
- Using an electric mixer, beat the cream, extract and sugar until the cream is stiff and has formed peaks. Set the bowl aside.
- Add the chopped almonds, the one whole almond and vanilla to the rice mixture and mix well.
- Gently fold in the whipped cream with the rice mixture.
- Cover and refrigerate for a minimum of 4 hours (may be made the day before).
- Divide the rice pudding either chilled or room temperature into 8 individual bowls.
- Top with warm cherry sauce and serve.
- Using a colander, drain the cherries in a bowl and reserve the liquid.
- Combine the cornstarch with the water and stir until completely combined.
- In a medium saucepan, add the reserved cherry liquid, the remaining 2 Tablespoons of sugar, the cornstarch mixture, and butter and bring to a boil, stirring constantly for 1-2 minutes.
- Reduce heat to low.
- Add the drained cherries and 1/4 teaspoon almond extract and continue to simmer, stirring occasionally, about 5 minutes or more until sauce is slightly thickened.
- If blanched almonds are not available, blanch regular whole almonds by filling a saucepan with 2/3 water. Bring to a boil. Place the almonds in the water. Blanch for 1 minute. Drain, cool and squeeze the skin off.
- Before chopping the almonds, bake them in a 350°F oven for a few minutes to soften the almonds and increase the nutty flavor. Keep your eye on them so they do not brown.