Risalamande – A Danish Christmas Eve Dessert.

If you like rice pudding, you’re going to love Risalamande, a fancified Danish version of rice pudding that’s full of crunchy almonds, velvety whipped cream and topped with a cherry sauce.  With NO calories!!  Providing you just look at it.

Skip right to the recipe.

 

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I know.  I don’t even like dessert and I think it looks delicious.  More shocking is the fact that I think it tastes delicious, what with my preference for eating a nice bag of salty potato chips to finish off my meals. This traditional Danish rice pudding concoction however gets my full support for Christmas Eve dessert.

I love it.

But I’m generally a big fan of rice pudding precisely because of the fact that it isn’t too sweet.  It’s rich and creamy and everyone knows that all the best desserts are made with rice.  Just ask my good friend Mango Sticky Rice.

Risalamande (almond rice) is what’s traditionally served on Christmas Eve in Danish households. Except my childhood Danish household apparently, where tradition was to pass around Creme de Menthe and ashtrays.

This year I thought I’d try it out myself to see if it’s a Danish tradition I’d like to resurrect for my annual Christmas Eve party or if I’ll just stick with my original plan to resurrect Dolph Lundgren. Even though he’s Swedish.

Making this dessert is really simple.  You cook some basic rice pudding, stir in some almonds and whipped cream then top it with cherry sauce.

The one extra special thing about Risalamande are the almonds.  And not just the almonds, but the one, single whole almond that gets added to it.  The tradition is to serve all of the rice pudding and whoever gets the whole almond wins a prize.  If you’re the one who finds the almond  you’re supposed to tuck it in your cheek or hide it so no one knows it’s been found.  That way everyone is forced to eat all the rice pudding in the entire house thinking the almond might still be available to be found.

Evidently leftover rice pudding is a sin worse than carpeted bathrooms in a Danish household.

Also just so you know, Danes love butter and whipping cream, just as a general rule. And that is why we love the Dane’s. Of course they offset all that fat in their diet by eating pickled herring.  Nobody’s perfect.

Just a photographic reminder to add the whole almond because it’s easy to forget when you’re in a whipped cream coma.

You can go as complicated or as easy as you want with the cherry sauce. I made my own out of frozen cherries, sugar and water but if you like things easy and just want to dump a can of cherry pie filling on top, feel free.

Just don’t expect it to look like this if you do.  It’ll be a bit gloppy.

Risalamande – Danish Rice Pudding

Risalamande - Danish Rice Pudding

This Danish dessert is traditionally served on Christmas Eve but feel free to whip it up any time of year.
4.86 from 7 votes
Print Pin Rate
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: Danish
Total Time: 1 hour 30 minutes
Servings: 8
Author: Karen

Ingredients

Rice Pudding

  • 1 cup white rice (long grain or arborio)
  • 6 cups whole milk
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 pinch salt
  • 1 cup almonds (chopped, blanched)
  • 1 almond (whole)

Whipped Cream

  • 1.5 cups whipping cream
  • 2 tbsp sugar
  • 1 bean vanilla

Cherry Sauce

  • 16 oz cherries (frozen)
  • 3 tbsp sugar (or to taste)
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1 tbsp cornstarch
  • 1 tbsp water

Instructions

Rice Pudding

  • Add rice, milk, sugar and a pinch of salt to pot and heat until small bubbles start to form around edge of pot.  Stir occasionally.
  • Once bubbles form, cover pot with lid and simmer for apx 1 hour until rice is soft.  
  • Remove from heat and add in chopped almonds and 1 whole almond. Allow to cool.

Whipped Cream

  • Whip 1.5 cups of whipping cream.  Once it starts to thicken, add the sugar.
  • Once whipped, gently stir in the seeds from one whole vanilla bean.

Cherry Sauce

  • Mix together 1 tablespoon of cornstarch and 1 tablespoon of water to form a slurry.
  • Simmer cherries, 1/4 cup of water and 3 tablespoons of sugar in a pot until the cherries are softened.  
  • Once softened and warm, add the slurry to the pot of cherries and bring to a slight boil.  Simmer until thickened.  Remove from heat.

Putting it all together

  • Gently fold the whipped cream into the rice pudding.  Serve in bowls or cups, topped with the warm cherry sauce.

Notes

People will say IT IS VITALLY IMPORTANT YOU USE ARBORIO RICE.  It isn't vitally important.
People will say IT IS VITALLY IMPORTANT TO USE REGULAR, LONG GRAIN WHITE RICE.  It isn't vitally important.
In other words, use whichever you have and it'll be delicious.
If you simmer your rice and milk mixture too long it'll get very stiff and solid after it has cooled. This is  normal, just add a bit of milk to loosen it up if you want, but the whipping cream will do all the loosening you need really.
This is all done to taste. If you like a sweeter rice pudding, add more sugar. Ditto for the cherry sauce.
 

It even looks Christmassy which I’m sure my guests will appreciate. If I were home alone and feeding only myself I’d probably go for the slightly less popular Christmas Eve rice dessert of chicken fried rice – but sometimes you just have to please the crowd.

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46 Comments

  1. Loreen says:

    Every year I like to try a festive desert, thanks for making it so easy this year. I still get teased about my pomogrante reduction topping that was pucker tart and the panda cotta too sweet, but it did look good.

  2. Karen Packer says:

    I grew up in a Danish household and we have always had this dessert on Christmas Eve. The prize for finding the whole almond was a marzipan pig. However, lately the prize has been a Terry’s chocolate orange since so few people enjoy marzipan these days!
    BTW Karen, I used to live down the street from you but moved to Alberta several years ago. Love your posts!

  3. KATHLEEN HARTZELL says:

    Oh, this is so fun! We had Swedish rice pudding, with a whole almond, which meant that the person who found it would be next married. Only later on did I stop to think this rather bizarre, as my father was Already married, duh, so….

    We also had another pudding which my Swedish grandmother made which was, roughly spelled to replicate her translation in English: “sheet pudding”. And my mother, gasping to stop her laughter uttered the words, yes, I am certain that it is that. Oh my, how could anyone ruin any meat in such a fashion as to have it deserve that name!!!!

    And we Swedes LOVE our pickled herring. I took it to a holiday potluck and it was eaten up, but I saved a few pieces for appetizers tonight, and my non Swede husband gobbled it up, as usual. We always buy the jarred versions at the market and add our own sour cream,

  4. Louann says:

    The Norwegians also eat it for their Christmas eve meal. It’s yummy but so so rich.

  5. Caryl says:

    Am I missing when the chopped blanched almonds enter the pudding or do we eat them while concocting the rest of this memorable concoction?

  6. Anita Jensen says:

    I have been following you for quite a while now. I am always admiring your energy and spirit and the multitude of projects you take on (and with such great results). Your name suggests some kind of Danish connection, but I was not sure. I am so glad and proud to learn that you are indeed Danish!

    • Karen says:

      I am indeed. Half Danish and almost half Irish (just found out the Irish part a year or so ago, lol) My father’s parents were from Denmark. ~ karen!

  7. Jo says:

    How much of this can I do the day before? Can I make the rice pudding the day before? Can the whip cream be made the day before? I got the Cherry sauce covered that’s easy. I’m trying to do is less stress as possible over the Christmas season. Thanks for the help. This sounds great!

    • Sigi says:

      You can definitely prepare the rice pudding the day before, as Risalamande is often made with leftovers of risengrød: hot rice pudding eaten with cinnamon sugar and butter. Also delicious !

    • Karen says:

      The rice pudding can be made the day before, just remember it sets up quite stiff in the fridge so you can either mix it and mix it to loosen it up or add some milk. I wouldn’t whip the cream the day before. Do that and mix it together the day of. ~ karen!

  8. Kris says:

    This looks and sounds delicious!
    Karen, your photos are so beautiful!

    • Karen says:

      Thanks Kris. Get ready for my photos to be bad again in a few days. I got a new camera and I’m just figuring it out, lol. ~ karen!

  9. Birgitte Lyngsø says:

    We do eat risalamande every christmas eve. However we serve it in a bowl
    so everybody seach for this whole almond . The sauce will be served on the side and some prefer it a little warm to give a nice contrast to the cold pudding.
    It is an easy dessert because you mostly make it the day before Christmas Eve.
    By the way I put only a spoonful of sugar in mine….the cherry sauce makes it sweet enough to me. Glædelig Jul!

    • Karen says:

      Yes, a lot of Danes have barely sweet dessert. In North America they like it sweeter. I prefer it less sweet. Probably somewhere between a true Danish version and a North American version. ~ karen!

  10. Jenny W says:

    We are a tree nut free house here, but I am definitely going to try this rice pudding with whip cream and cherry sauce instead of raisins and brown sugar sauce – so festive looking!

  11. Peter Oster says:

    We always had it hot with a dab of butter and cinnamon and sugar sprinkled on top but no almond. (Almonds showed up as almond paste in the almond ring on Christmas morn.). You also forgot the gallons of strong coffee served at all holiday meals.

  12. Marilyn Meagher says:

    Creme De Menthe and ashtrays ….🤣🤣🤣🤣. I’m having company for dinner Saturday night.im making this! It looks amazing!

    • Karen says:

      I gave some to Lisa because I had SO much and she lovedddd it. For myself I’d do less sugar and a tiny bit less whipped cream, but any normal person would want it as I’ve written the recipe here. ~ karen!

  13. Yum! My mom and grandmother used to make rice pudding. We’r Finnish, so slightly different, but pretty much the same! I am going to try your recipe. Also, the Danish almond tradition was just featured on one of the Hallmark Christmas movies! The film crew must have been peeking in your window while you were making yours!

  14. Jen says:

    I could eat oatmeal for every meal and rice pudding for every dessert. And probably never poop again.

  15. YES, you can make the rice part the day before serving, just warm it slowly on the stove, adding small amounts of milk as necessary to get it smoothe, because the rice will have absorbed some of it overnight.
    YES – use a kind of rice that gets mooshy when cooked in milk for an hour. There is a kind of rice that holds its shape through that process, though, and it just is the wrong kind of rice. Sorry, I don’t remember which kind, so you’ll have to experiment.
    OTHER FRUIT you can use for riskrem (Norwegian name) would be lingonberries. In a pinch, use Lingonberry Jam from IKEA, it’s a bit tart, tastes great!
    Beth in Seattle

  16. Eileen says:

    I’m on board with this, except for the whipped cream. If I leave that out then it’s just almond rice pudding instead of Risalamande, right? ‘Cause whipped cream makes my tummy hurt and my tongue go “yuck.”

  17. Debbie says:

    Crème de Menthe and ashtrays had me cracking up! I’m going to try this even though we’re predominantly Scottish and German and due to a second marriage Polish on my side. It may not be “traditional” but it sure sounds delicious!

  18. Jody says:

    This sounds very much like a recipe my mom got from the Old Mill restaurant many many many years ago. It is so delicious. I like the whole almond tradition. something like having a money cake for your birthday.

  19. Jamieson says:

    FunFactTM: Growing up in the 70s and 80s, our bathroom not only had carpet in the bathroom, it was wall-to-wall avocado green SHAG carpet. It was also in the hallway and throughout the kitchen. At least it matched the avocado green appliances, which was a coincidence because the carpet was repurposed from my mom’s office after they renovated (it was virtually new when we got it).

  20. Martina says:

    Ya, Norwegians have this dessert too. I love it.
    Have you ever tried glorified rice? Very Midwest America dish. Rice dessert with marshmallows, pineapple etc. I remember years ago a friend would grumble this time of year because her MIL insisted that friend make glorified rice for every Christmas Eve dinner. Friend thought dish was ghastly.

    • Jan in Waterdown says:

      Gawd that sounds awful lol! Reminds me of that 3 cup salad with canned Del Monte fruit and marshmallows and something else…… uch

  21. Jacquie Gariano says:

    I was just looking for a new Christmas Eve dessert….and here it is. Thanks so much. I love the cherry sauce addition. so colorful for Christmas. Being able to make it the day before is an additional plus. I had a Norwegian grandmother and she was the worst cook in the world. Boiled every thing to death.

  22. charissa says:

    OMG… CREME DE MENTHE AND ASHTRAYS!!!!! Reading this made me laugh so hard that I tinkled. tmi. i know. can’t help the honesty because I think we might hv grown up in the same houshold from that comment. Seriously… my face hurts from laughing now. This looks lovely and great for a simple Christmas. I can’t wait to try it. Thank you for your lovely blog that lifts and inspires (and makes me tinkle😉) u r my favourite words. Witty, Irreverent, Sassy, and True. Merry Christmas.

  23. Mary W says:

    Not only do I adore rice pudding, I love how Christmasy this looks. Once the clan has left on Christmas Day and I’m alone with the beautiful twinkling lights and merry glow of family, I will eat this delicious concoction by myself and be so grateful for family, food, and friends like you. It will be the perfect way to spend my day. Dishes can wait till morning.

  24. Karen says:

    I’m not the biggest fan of the taste of whipped cream so I follow my grandmother’s recipe which adds 1 or 2 tablespoons of sherry into the mix. It just gives it that little something extra. To those of you who are new to the recipe: remember to remove the skin from the whole almond otherwise it’s far to easy to spot and then who will have all the belly aches?

  25. Heather says:

    Thanks! Definitely making this. So pretty!

  26. Shelagh says:

    Every August I make brandied cherries.
    They are ready at Christmas.
    They won’t be glossy and quite as pretty as a thick cherry sauce but oh my the taste!
    Sadly we have nut allergy folks who come for Christmas Eve, so no almond hunt for us. What kind of a prize?

  27. Anna says:

    I love Danish rice pudding! I’ve made it for our family feast for the past 10 years. My version (from a Swedish cookbook ‘Vinterns Goda Ting’ (Winter’s Good Things) has a very simple cherry sauce: heat a jar of good quality black cherry jam in a saucepan, with a table spoon or two of ruby port. So simple, and so very good.

  28. iLah Hartung says:

    As a Swede, we spent Chrisrmas Eve with our compatriot immigrant families, so lutefisk —the real kind, not the Norwegian method — was the primary main course, with boiled potatoes. Yes the warm rice pudding, with the almond trick, as well. This dessert likely got short shrift as we all had to trek out to the Swedish Lutheran Church (ah, what a glorious beauty still in Chicago) for the Midnight service. I never liked it as being too mushy, but the better dessert was the baked rice pudding for dessert on real Christmas Day, still a favorite in the family. But recalling the almond, my job was to soak the almonds in hot water to release them from the skin, and added them to the raisin spice mix served in the hot glogg as the aftermath to the Swedish meatballs and ham. I can still catch the aroma of the glogg heating and drinking it after the meal of meatballs, on Christmas Day.

    • Karen says:

      Frikadeller meatballs? Or tiny Swedish meatballs? I guess … being that you’re Swedish it would be Swedish meatballs now that I think about it, lol. ~ karen!

  29. Renee Ryz says:

    Thinking how good those cherries would be with a splash of Kirsch…mmm. My Grammie (Hungarian) always made a baked rice pudding that you sliced and ate warm with some milk over it. We also had what we called “cinnamon rice”, made with left over rice, an egg & milk with vanilla & cinnamon. Ate that alot for breakfast – satisfying filling comfort food for us, made some for my daughter the other day when she was over, and she said it just feels like home.

  30. Marna says:

    Yum! I will have to try this. My husband and I are parts of various Scandinavian countries, plus a few others too. 🙂

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