Danish Risalamande

Danish Risalamande

Risalamande is properly the most famous and traditional Danish Christmas dessert that you can make. It is a rice pudding with fresh vanilla, almonds and whipped cream, and is typically served with warm cherry sauce.

The word Risalamande comes from the French word Riz à l’amande, which directly translated means ‘rice with almonds’. Risalamande is (more or less) only served as the Christmas dessert right after the dinner on Christmas eve. In Denmark, and most of the Nordic and some European countries, we celebrate Christmas at Christmas eve and not at Christmas day like in the UK and US.

In Denmark there is a tradition to make the Rice Pudding (risengrød) needed for ‘Risalamande’ the day before Christmas eve and eat some of it for dinner – on the day of Christmas eve the Risengrød’ leftovers, is mixed with sugar, whipped cream and almonds and served as the dessert after the Christmas dinner. A smart way to save some time in the kitchen on the busy Christmas eve 🙂

‘Risalamande’ and the almond-present

There is a tradition surrounding Risalamande, making the dish not only a very delicious dessert but also a funny game.

Risalamande contains a lot of chopped almonds. And there is a tradition that the person who make the dessert leave one whole almond unchopped and drops it in the Risalamande whole at the end of the making.

This extra whole almond is now mixed into the Risalamande. When the dessert is served the person who gets the whole almond in his/hers serving wins a prize or present.
Because the whole almond is hidden in the dessert, people often have to eat, till no more is left, resulting in a lot of very full stomachs 🙂

1 portion of Risengrød
500 ml whipping cream
130g icing sugar
1 vanilla bean (or 1 tsp vanilla powder)
200g peeled and chopped almonds
(Cherry sauce)

  • Start by making a portion of traditional Danish Risengrød… As mentioned above, this can be done the day before, so it’s nice and cool when you need it. 
  • Peel and chop the almonds. To do this, boil some water and pour it in a small bowl. 
  • Add the almonds and let them soak in the hot water for about 5 minutes. 
  • One-by-one take the almonds up and press them between two finger so that the peel separates from the almond. 
  • Then coarsely chop the almonds. (for the lazy one, ready chopped almonds are perfectly fine!) 😉
  • In a separate bowl, whip the cream into a whipped cream adding the icing sugar and vanilla little by little.
  • Gently mix the whipped cream with the cold Risengrød. Once mixed well together, add the chopped almonds and stir till they are evenly mixed in.

You can either mix in the whole almond at this stage, leave it out, or add it to the bowl right before serving. Each family have a slightly different tradition. In mine, the whole almond gets added as the bowl is being served, and all guests get to stir it in, before the bowl is placed on the table. The youngest the gets to go first, normally trying to peek in the bowl to see if they can see the almond. 

Keep the Risalamande in the fridge until serving and serve with a hot cherry sauce.

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