During the 1800’s the citizen’s of Copenhagen felt the need to separate themselves from the farming community and this also affected our Christmas food. They added whipped cream and almonds to our beloved Danish Risengrød and called it Ris a la mande to give it some French flair, because that is what was in fashion at that time. Kristeligt Dagblad
Danish Christmas Tradition: Mandelgaven (the Almond Present)
Today you still see Ris a la mande served in most Danish households on Christmas Eve. Since then, we have add a warm Cherry Sauce to top it off and traditionally a fun game goes along with eating this wonderful Christmas treat. A single whole Almond is blanched and stirred into the Ris a la mande to hide it. The dish is served after Christmas dinner and whoever finds the almond wins a gift. The problem with the Almond gift is that the winner could be anyone from a child to grandmother. This is often solved by giving a traditional small Marzipan pig as the gift, but today, the gift could be anything. Also, there is a lot of cheating going on with this game. Some may choose to place an Almond in each of the children’s bowls so all the children gets a gift. I think my Mom did that one year but we thought the game should be done “the right way”. I can honestly say that I have never won this game. The winner in our home was typically my Dad. He would often times get the almond and then he would keep it hidden against his cheek until all the Ris a la mande was eaten up. Sneaky. One year my Dad took pity on me and gave me the Almond under the table but I didn’t feel right taking the gift since I did not honestly win it.
I should also mention that some households may chop blanched Almonds into small pieces and add them to the dish. We have never done this at our house, instead pure Almond Extract is added giving the dish a wonderful Almond flavor. This dish is by far one of the biggest highlights of Christmas for me and I continue to serve it every single year, for it would not be Christmas without it.
I am very honored to be asked to participate in the LexioPhiles International Recipe Advent Calendar 2011. My recipe for Ris a la mande with warm Cherry sauce will appear on December 2nd, 2011. LexioPhiles will feature a new recipe every day during the month of December from bloggers around the world. I am very excited about visiting each day to see what unique recipes will be displayed from my fellow bloggers. I hope you will too!
Ingredients for 1st stage – Risengrød:
1 1/4 cup water
1 cup rice (Grødris)
4 1/2 cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla sugar
Ingredients for 2nd stage – Ris a la mande:
1 1/2 cup whipping cream
3 tablespoon confectioners sugar
4 teaspoon pure almond extract
2 whole almonds
For the Cherry Sauce:
15 oz can Oregon Bing Cherries in heavy syrup
1 tablespoon cornstarch
Place water and rice in a medium cooking pot, cover with a lid and simmer for 2 minutes. Add milk and vanilla sugar and simmer over low heat for 40-45 minutes. Stir often to make sure the milk does not burn, especially the last 30 minutes. You may have to turn the heat all the way down as low as your stove will allow and cover with a lid for the last 15 minutes.
Place in Tupperware and refrigerate for several hours or overnight.
Once mixture is completely cooled remove from refrigerator and break it up with a spoon. In a small bowl add whipping cream, confectioners sugar and almond extract. Beat with a handheld mixer until you see tracks from beaters in the cream. Add half of the whipping cream to rice mixture and combine well with a spoon, add remaining whipping cream in small increments. The final texture should be creamy and easily mixed with the spoon. Place covered in refrigerator until ready to serve.
To blanch almonds. Place almonds in a small dish and pour boiling water over to cover. Let sit in water for 1 minute, drain and rinse with cold water. Pat dry and slip the skins off. I usually blanch two almonds in case I have trouble with one. Before serving Ris a la mande, place one blanched almond in mixture and stir well to hide almond.
In a small dish mix together the cornstarch and some water to form the thickening agent. In a small saucepan bring cherry and syrup to a simmer. Add the cornstarch/water mixture to cherries a little at the time, stirring until syrup starts to thicken. Simmer for 1 minute and remove from heat.
Serve Ris a la mande cold with the warm cherry sauce on top.
Glædelig Jul and Merry Christmas♥
Source: My Danish Kitchen