Despite the pseudo-French name (intended to mean “Rice with almonds” – it’s also sometimes spelled Ris à l’amande or Risalamande), this dessert is a 100% Danish recipe. For well over a century, it has been a Danish Christmas tradition, frequently consumed during December – and it is invariably served as dessert on Christmas Eve.
½ cup (125 g) short grain rice
4 cups (1 l) milk
a pinch of salt
⅔ cups (150-180 g) sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups (1/2 l) whipped cream
1 or 2 handful of almonds, blanched and chopped into slivers(except for one almond, which is added whole)
cherry sauce (optional, but highly recommended)
1 small present (optional, but highly recommended)
1. Bring the milk to boiling carefully, in a thick-bottomed pot. Add the rice, and simmer for about 1 hour, stirring frequently to keep the porridge from burning. Add a pinch of salt.
Note: If you stop at this point, you have risengrød (“rice porridge”), another Danish winter dish. You can serve this up sprinkled with sugar and cinnamon, as is, or keep going to make ris à la mande. This, by the way, is also a typical German dish (Milchreis). My extra tip: first sprinkle sugar and cinnamon, then drizzle a tablespoon of hot, melted butter over the rice. Or serve with apple sauce.
2. Stir in the sugar and the vanilla extract and set the finished rice pudding in a cool place (by an open window, or in the refrigerator) until it’s chilled.
3. Just before serving, add the whipped cream and the almonds, stirring them in carefully. The whole almond should be carefully added, and its position randomized, to allow for fair play in the mandelgave ritual.
4. Serve chilled with warm cherry sauce. Some people prefer cold cherry sauce, though.