Thursday, December 18, 2008

A Danish Christmas dessert

Ris à l’amande
Danish Rice Pudding
Serves 6
This delicious rice pudding is a popular Christmas dessert all over Scandinavia. It usually retains its French name (in Sweden it is known as ris à la Malta) and it has been served on Christmas Eve in many Danish homes for over a century.
You will need:
1 tablespoon butter
3 cups whole milk
1 vanilla bean (I recommend a Madagascar vanilla bean, you can purchase vanilla beans at the Arizona Vanilla website.)
½ cup rice (short-grain. Italian aborio rice works quite well)
½ teaspoon salt
¼ cup chopped almonds
2 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon sherry (optional)
1 ½ cups whipping cream

Grease a saucepan with the butter before pouring the milk into it.
Bring to a boil.
Split the vanilla bean, scrape out the seeds into the milk, and add the split bean.

Gradually stir in the rice.
Simmer, covered, for 45 minutes at very low heat.
Stir occasionally and add a little more milk if needed.
Remove from heat, take out the vanilla bean, salt the rice pudding, and let it cool, covered, preferably overnight.
Stir almonds, sugar, and sherry, if using, into the cold rice pudding. Whip the cream until stiff and fold it in carefully.
Refrigerate and serve with a fruit sauce, such as the cherry sauce in the following recipe, or canned fruit.
Some prefer to stiffen their pudding with some gelatin. To do that, dissolve 4 teaspoons gelatin in a little hot water, stir into the still warm pudding along with almonds, sugar, and sherry, and fold in the whipped cream before the pudding begins to stiffen. Refrigerate for a few hours or overnight.
Cherry Sauce
Makes ½ cup
This sauce can be served with ris a l’amande and other puddings, or with ice cream. The same recipe can be used for other fruit. Fresh berries, for instance, need only be cooked for a few minutes.

½ cup chopped dried Cherries
¼ cup sugar or to taste
1 teaspoon potato starch or cornstarch
Soak the cherries in 2 cups water for a couple of hours. Turn them into a saucepan with the soaking water and cook them gently until tender. Press them through a sieve and pour them back into the saucepan. Stir in sugar to taste and bring to a boil again.
Dissolve the potato starch or cornstarch in a little cold water, remove the saucepan from the heat and immediately stir in the starch mixture. Stir until slightly thickened. Cool and serve.

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