Two years spent in Denmark left me with an addiction to the pastries it's so famous for (that often bear little resemblance to what we imagine them to be here), as well as an obligatory love affair with Scandinavian Furniture, a fondness for ridiculously cold crisp weather, and a dangerous addiction to candles. Amongst all the recipes that came with us when we left, my favourites have to be Æbleskiver (tiny Christmas donuts) and Denmark's Christmas Pudding - Risalamande
Traditionally served on Christmas Eve (the most festive Day in Denmark), cold, packed full of whipped cream with generous dollops of warm cherry sauce, Risalamande might not feature in our house precisely on that day, but we do make it at some point between Christmas and New Year... Like our traditional English Christmas pudd, it also contains a "wish" albeit one less likely to break your teeth than the traditional coin in our version.
I can't think of one person who doesn't like a really good rice pudding, and if nothing else, it allows for an absolutely quiet 10/15 minutes at least (quite possibly the only quietness you will experience during the festive season) whilst everyone sifts through each mouthful to find the magic whole almond to make that all-important wish. What's the betting it's for another bowl?...
1.5 litres whole milk; 2 vanilla pods; 250g short-grain rice; 1/2 tsp salt; 5 tbsp caster sugar; 75g almonds sliced (keeping one whole for the wish!); 200ml whipped double cream; 1 Jar of Cherry Sauce (Bonne Maman do a good cherry Compote!).
Gently heat 1.4 litres of the milk in a big saucepan. Just before boiling add the rice, slit one of the vanilla pods lengthways and chuck this in too. Cook gently for 30 minutes, stirring from time to time to keep it from catching. Take the pan off the heat and stir in the salt. Cover and leave for a few minutes before adding the sugar and leave to cool completely. Remove the vanilla pod and add the sliced almonds, keeping the whole one separate. Slit the second vanilla pod, and scrape out the seeds, adding them to the rice. Fold in the remaining milk, and the whipped cream. Either put in a large serving bowl, or individual bowls and hide the whole almond in one of them. Serve with warm cherry sauce on the side... Enjoy.