I love the tradition of serving Ris a La Mande (Danish Rice Pudding) on Little Christmas Eve! A delicious, traditional dessert if you have Danish roots!
I love Christmas traditions. I love hearing about other peoples’ traditions and I love our own little traditions. Some of our traditions go way back and some have been established within the last few years. Either way, in my opinion, traditions make Christmas time unique extra special and unique for each family. No two Christmases are the same and I love that. That all being said, I am going to share with you a fun little tradition done in Denmark as well as my own little family…
My husband served his mission in Denmark and told me about this tradition that they do there and I LOVE it. Since our family has Danish ancestry (and since he lived in Denmark) we decided that we wanted to incorporate it into our own Christmas traditions. Ris A La Mande (or Ris ala Mande.. or Risalamande) is a Danish rice pudding that is typically served on or around Christmas as a dessert. Now here is the fun part… this rice pudding contains chopped almonds… and one, single whole almond mixed in before serving. The rice pudding is then served in individual bowls and whoever finds the single, whole almond in their bowl gets a little wrapped gift!
In our family, we celebrate our “Danish Christmas” on December 23rd. In Denmark the 23rd of December is called “Lille Julaften” or “Little Christmas Eve” (the day before Christmas Eve). In Demark on this day they usually have a big meal and then on actual Christmas Eve they open presents, sing songs, serve ris a la mande etc. We roll all the Danish celebrations into one day and do it all on the 23rd. I love doing this because it is like having 3 days of Christmas celebrations/traditions… Little Christmas Eve, Christmas Eve, and Christmas! Why not tack on an extra day of fun?
As you are probably figuring out, TODAY is Little Christmas Eve! I am so excited for our annual Danish dinner and celebrations tonight. We will be having Frikadeller, Brunede Kartofler (Caramelized/Browned Potatoes), Rødkål (Red Cabbage), Aebleskiver, and of course… Ris a La Mande! One of these days we will do Flæskesteg (roast pork) which is actually what they serve for Christmas but I am finding it difficult to find what I need to make it.
ANYWAY…. a few things about this recipe. Vanilla sugar is not easy to find but it is a MUST for the recipe. You can find it at a European market or you can order it online. A friend of ours found some at a Russian market. They are usually served in little individual packets. The rice (Arborio Rice) can usually be found by the specialty rice in grocery stores or if you have a Winco nearby, they have it available in their bulk bins.
How to Make Ris a La Mande
For the rice pudding:
- 8 Tbsp Arborio rice (it MUST be this kind of rice)
- 4 c. milk
- 3 Tbsp. vanilla sugar (do NOT use vanilla extract...this can be tricky to find, see above)
- 3 Tbsp. sugar
- 1 c. almonds finely chopped using knife (if you use a food processor you should aim for a coarse texture, as the almonds give the dish its texture)
- 2 1/4 c. whipping cream whipped
- Bring milk to a boil slowly in a large pot.
- Add rice, keep simmering until rice is tender, stir every 3 min or so to prevent rice and/or milk burning at the bottom. This step takes approx 45 minutes.
- While the rice is simmering you can make the raspberry sauce and chop the almonds.
- When rice is firm, remove from heat and let it cool slightly. When cool (see note below.. we like to keep ours warm) add vanilla sugar, sugar and almonds.
- Fold in whipped cream.
- Chill and serve with warm raspberry sauce. (we actually like the rice pudding warm... but some like it chilled. Either way works.)
- In medium sauce pan place frozen raspberries and 2 tbsp of water, heat until thawed, add sugar and stir. Let simmer for approx 3-5 minutes. Strain seeds (catching the juices/pulp over a bowl), discard seeds and put juices back in the sauce pan.
- Mix cornstarch with water and add to the sauce SLOWLY to thicken-- you probably won't need all the mixture. This step can be omitted if you want a more natural and thinner sauce.
- TIP- you can also serve this dish with a strawberry sauce or a mix of raspberry and strawberry. I prefer the raspberry sauce as it adds a bit of tartness to an otherwise sweet dish. Traditionally the dish is served with a cherry sauce, our family never did though instead preferring the raspberry or strawberry sauce.
This recipe was adapted from Food.com.. click here!