Risalamande – Danish Rice Pudding

While everyone always looks forward to desert during Christmas, I think the Danes took the anticipation to another level. While I never really cared for rice pudding as a child (I love it now), I always looked forward to it regardless and that was because of the “Mandelgave” or to translate “Almond present”.

Mandelgave is basically a small present (usually under 5 pounds) that you get if you find the sole whole almond in the risalamande. While it sounds like a no brainer, it is not quite so simple as rice pudding already has chopped almonds in it and the cook will slip one whole almond in without it’s skin of course, so that it blends in with the dish. Add on the cream and it can truly get lost in the bowl.

For some reason my morfar (maternal grandfather) more often than not, would end up with the almond and would often keep it quietly hidden until virtually all the rice pudding was gone or everyone would be so full and couldn’t have another bite before revealing he had found it. You would think after all these years we would know better, but there was that one year where the almond was quietly sitting at the very bottom of the bowl and that alone was enough to keep us all going.

While this year we won’t be having risalamande on Chrsitmas eve (as I am working) and it’s not something I have introduced to Dan’s side of the family yet for Christmas Day dinner, it is not Christmas without it. So I have made a small 4 person portion of rice pudding for Dan & I to enjoy over the next few evenings together with warm cherry sauce. With 4 out of my next 7 shifts ending at 9.30pm it will be that little extra something that I can look forward to.

As always, let me know if you give it a try.

60gm pudding rice (arborio rice)
100ml water
300ml milk
2.5 tbsp sugar
300ml heavy cream/whipping cream
2 teaspoons vanilla bean paste or 1 vanilla pod (scraped)
Almonds 10 pieces

1. Bring the rice and water to boil, then add the milk and let it simmer.
2. If you are using vanilla pods add them in now.
3. You will need to stir the rice pudding frequently so it doesn’t burn at the bottom.
4. While the pudding cooks, blanch the almonds in hot water then remove the skins and dice. Set aside one whole almond now if there is going to be a mandelgave.
5. Once the rice pudding thickens and the rice is cooked (fool proof test – squish between fingers), set aside to cool in the fridge overnight or a couple of hours before.
6. Add the almonds to the rice pudding and stir in.
7. A couple of hours before serving, whisk the heavy cream and sugar ( if you are using vanilla bean paste add it now) together till you get stiff peaks.
8. Add this to the cooled rice pudding and mix well.
9. Let sit in the fridge to cool till ready to serve.
10. Just before serving warm some cherry sauce or strawberry sauce to serve with it.

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