Tuesday, 22 December 2015

Happy Holidays | Danish rice and almond pudding

Christmas time is upon us and it's time for the last blog entry this year. I would like to use the opportunity to share again the recipe for rice and almond pudding (risalamande), a traditional Danish dessert that always gets many views on my old food blog in December. I remember seeing the pudding on the Christmas table in my childhood but it wasn't an annual tradition. The Danes have served the pudding at Christmas since the late 1800s and it has undergone some changes. I think I remember it correctly that the whipped cream wasn't added to the recipe until the era of the Second World War (1939-1945) when the price of rice got higher. A few years ago, when we were living in Copenhagen, my aunt and her Danish husband invited us to their home for a Christmas dinner and for dessert they served risalamande with organic cherry sauce, which was a wonderful combination. This was back in 2009 and since then the rice pudding has been on our Christmas table.

I serve the pudding on Christmas Eve, which is the day of celebration in the Nordic countries, when a festive dinner is enjoyed before the presents are opened. If buying the cherry sauce I would opt for an organic choice, free of refined sugar. Preparing the sauce is very easy. If I can get fresh cherries at this time of year I use 600 grams: Cut the cherries and remove the pits before mixing with 1 tablespoon of pure maple syrup in a food processor. Pour it into a small saucepan, stir in 2-3 tablespoons of unrefined cane sugar and add a bit of freshly squeezed lemon juice. Let it simmer gently for 10-15 minutes, until the liquid has mostly evaporated, but not to the point of having dried out. Transfer the sauce to a bowl and allow it to cool before serving. You can also use frozen cherries: you will only need 300 grams that go straight into a saucepan with the syrup, sugar and lemon juice, and let it simmer longer. When the sauce is ready you can mash the cherries with a fork or a spoon before allowing it to cool. On Sunday I made the rice and almond pudding and for the sauce I used frozen mixed berries. It tasted wonderful and that's the sauce you see in the photos.

In this house the Christmas preparation is pretty much done and the smoked lamb (hangikjöt) is on its way from Iceland via express mail. Here in Scotland there is hardly any chance of white Christmas, even a bush by our dining room window has started to form buds. I would like to wish you Happy Holidays and my best wishes for 2016, and at the same time to thank you for all the blog visits this year.

On this blog, late in 2011, I mentioned the risalamande recipe (some write ris a la mande or ris à l'amande) and much to my surprise my readers were eager to view it, which is why I shared it on my old food blog. It is the recipe I got from my aforementioned aunt and her husband in Denmark and I have only made slight changes: I use more sugar because my children like it that way (they use half tablespoon) and instead of blanched almonds I use almonds with the skin, which provides dietary fibre. I always prepare the pudding in the morning of Christmas Eve, as it needs time to cool, and the scent of vanilla that fills the house is heavenly. As I said before, I serve it with either organic cherry sauce or home-made. If you are interested in a lighter version of the pudding you can substitute the whipping cream for Greek yoghurt, or you can combine cream and yoghurt. At Christmas I always prepare the real thing, with the whipped cream.


190 g pudding rice (scant 1 cup)
250 ml water (1 cup)
1 litre milk (4 cups)
1 vanilla pod
2 tablespoons unrefined cane sugar
½ teaspoon fine sea/Himalayan salt
75 g almonds (½ cup)
400 ml whipping cream (about 1½ cup + 2 tablespoons)

To make the pudding: Rinse the pudding rice (white short-grain rice) before boiling in 250 ml water (1 cup) for 2 minutes in a saucepan. Add the 1 litre of milk (4 cups) and bring gently to the boil. Turn the heat down and let it simmer gently for about 35 minutes. Use a lid but tilt it to allow the steam to escape. (The cooking time applies to Danish grødris (pudding rice). Other type of rice could need longer time to cook. Most of the liquid should be absorbed and the rice should be soft.)

Before adding the vanilla pod to the saucepan you need to split it and remove the seeds. Use a sharp knife to split it lengthways and then scrape the seeds out with the knife tip (I use the seeds to make my own vanilla sugar with unrefined cane sugar).

When the rice pudding is done remove the saucepan from the heat and remove the two halves of the vanilla pod. Spoon the rice pudding into a big bowl, add the salt and sugar and stir gently. Cover the bowl and allow the pudding to cool in the fridge.

Chop the almonds with a knife or in a food processor and add them to the cold pudding. (You can use blanched almonds if you prefer. If you can't buy them then simply put them in a bowl of hot water and rub the skin off with your fingers.) Whip the cream (not too stiff) and gently stir it in.

Serve the pudding with cherry sauce or sauce with mixed berries.

Uppskrift á íslensku.


  1. This looks like ideal soulfood for a winter evening! Happy holidays, Lisa!

    1. Oh yes, risalamande is definitely food for the soul. I hope you enjoy wonderful Holidays!

  2. Merry Christmas, Lisa! Here's to lots of love and blessings to you and your family in 2016!!

    Lisa E

    1. Thank you, Lisa, and the same to you and your family!

  3. This comes just at the right time! I had this kind of pudding a few weeks ago at "Danish Deli" in Luxembourg, and thought that I should make it sometime this winter. Now having your recipe, I'll make it in the coming days. Two questions though: is the quantity for 5 people? And from the kind of rice I can buy in Luxembourg, should I choose risotto rice or something else? Merry Christmas!

    1. This portion will serve more than 5 people. On Christmas Eve we always have plenty of leftovers, which we enjoy after lunch on Christmas Day. You can get pudding rice in Luxembourg. If I remember correctly I think the name is 'dessert rice' over there. I always bought the rice in Cactus.

      Happy Holidays, Inga, and thank you for stopping by!

    2. Lisa, I did try your risalamande recipe over the holidays and both I and especially my boyfriend really enjoyed it! (in general, I'm a savoury-food person who cares very little about desserts) The milk/rice/sugar proportions were absolutely perfect! I got "Milchreis" at Auchan. Since I used pre-packaged cracked almonds, they were a bit too crunchy for me, but the following day they were excellent. I was really looking for the texture I experienced at ”Danish Deli”, and I think next time I might parboil the almonds for a while. I couldn't find frozen cherries and so made my jam from Damson plums (the local Lorraine kind), and it was delicious. Overall, a great experience!

    3. Hi Inga, great to hear you guys tried and liked the dessert. A note on the almonds. If you put them in the food processor and use the pulse button a few times you will get (depending on how good it is) both larger and smaller pieces, but it will also give you some ground almonds. That's my favourite texture, when it has a bit of everything.

  4. Thank you! I usually shop at Auchan or the neighbourhood Alima, but I'll see what I can get. Enjoy the festivities, Lisa!


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