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Danish almond rice

Risalamande, Denmark's favorite Yuletide dessert.

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(Flickr: healthaliciousness.com/Courtesy)

BRUSSELS, Belgium — The frenchified name of Denmark's favorite Yuletide dessert dates back to the days when its key ingredients - rice, almonds and vanilla - were an exotic imported luxury reserved for special occasions.

Cook short-grain rice in milk with sugar and vanilla. Once it's cool, blend in whipped cream and chopped almonds. Many Danes will also add a shot of sherry or white port wine.

Serve with a generous spoonful of hot, cherry sauce.

Traditionally one whole almond is hidden in the rice  whoever finds it wins a gift. Risalamande usually comes at the end of Christmas dinner that starts out with pickled herrings and moves on to flaeskesteg  crispy roast pork with red cabbage and caramelized potatoes.

Rice Pudding

4 cups full-fat milk

1/3 cup short-grained white rice (65 g)

1/2 vanilla pod (reserve the other half for the sauce)

1 cup whipping cream

3 tablespoons granulated sugar

1/3 cup almond paste (or use almond flakes or finely chopped almonds)

1 whole almond (more if you have several children present)

Cherry Sauce

1 1/2 cups frozen pitted cherries (about 185 g)

1/2 tablespoon lemon juice

3 tablespoons sugar

1/2 vanilla pod

1 1/2 cups water

2 tablespoons cold water

1 tablespoon potato starch (corn starch can be substituted)

fresh mint leaves (optional for garnish)

Directions:

Split half of the vanilla pod length ways, scrape out the seeds.

Place the milk and vanilla in a heavy-bottomed pan. Bring to a boil.

Reduce the heat. Add the rice gradually, stirring constantly.

Increase the heat and bring to a boil again.

When the milk boils, reduce the heat, cover and simmer on a very low heat for about 1 hour or until the rice is cooked. Stir from time to time, making sure that the rice doesn’t stick too much to the bottom.

Leave to cool completely.

Whip the cream together with sugar. Fold the whipped cream and almonds into the rice. You can add more sugar or more almonds if you wish. Serve with warm cherry sauce.

Now make the cherry sauce. Place the cherries in a medium saucepan. Add sugar and 1 1/2 cups water. Add the vanilla pod. Simmer until the cherries are tender.

Combine the potato starch with 2 tablespoons cold water.

Bring the cherries to a boil. Remove the vanilla pod from the pot. Reduce the heat, and , stirring constantly, slowly pour the water with the starch. Simmer for a few minutes until the sauce thickens slightly.

Stir in the lemon juice and serve warm over the rice pudding. Garnish with a fresh mint leaf, if desired.

* Regular sweet cherries should work as well.

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/regions/europe/121212/danish-almond-rice-christmas-meal