Risalamande With Cherry Sauce – An easy and Delicious Christmas Dessert

24th of December is finally here. The tree is decorated and has wrapped presents underneath. The Christmas roast is preparing in the oven. It’s a pork roast with crispy crackling. Flæskesvær. Now all there is missing is the iconic rice pudding dessert. Made with the left over rice porridge from the dinner on the 23rd. This is my recipe for risalamande with cherry sauce.

Christmas traditions are funny. They exist on many levels: religiously, culturally, nationally and of course in each family. In a series of recipes I go through all the classic dishes we eat for Christmas in Denmark. Maybe you wanna try them too?

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The history of rice pudding

In the 1800’s it had been a tradition of serving rice porridge, risengrød, to your guests in the wealthier households. The rice and the cinnamon were very expensive imports, so it was really only available to people who had more of a disposable income.

Around the turn of the century, rice and cinnamon were much more acceptable in price, so serving risengrød at Christmas had become commonplace. Which of course meant that the wealthy citizens had to take it to the next level.

So the rice porridge would be mixed with whipped cream, filled with expensive almonds, and served with a sweet cherry sauce.

risalamande with spects of vanilla bean

Mandelgave – The almond present

So we have a tradition called mandelgave. We put a whole almond in the dessert and the person who finds it gets the almond present. 

The traditional present is a pig made from marzipan, but since there are so many snacks on Christmas, it’s become more common to find something else. 

My Mom will often buy a book of funny stories or something like that.

The tradition itself is meant to be influenced by the french tradition to hide a bean in the cakes that are eaten on Epiphany.

The person who gets the bean gets to be King for the night, whatever that entails.

marzipan pigs which are often used as the almond present, mandelgave

Rationing during WWII made the dessert popular

During rationing throughout and after the second world war, the rislamande became the prefered Christmas dessert.

The housewives learned that you could stretch the rice porridge further by adding whipped cream, 

Because almonds were almost impossible to get, they’d add a button in place of the almond, so that there’d still be a competition for the present.

A couple of notes

To make this recipe you will first need a portion of rice porridge. I will usually make it the day before and just let it rest in the fridge.

This recipe contains both alcohol (in the cherry sauce).

If you or anyone who needs to eat it, can or shouldn’t eat alcohol, just omit it from the recipe.

If lactose is a problem, you can substitute with a lactose free whipping cream, and if animal products is a something you’d like to avoid, you can just use a plant based whipping cream.

A sweet and rich cherry sauce used to garnish risalamande, danish christmas rice pudding

The conclusion of this risalamande recipe

What are the important for a perfect risalamande?

  • A wonderfully creamy pudding with the taste of a full fat cream (unfortunately we cannot get double cream in Denmark)
  • The taste of some awesome almonds. Get the best that you can. My local nut shop has some absolutely delicious Marcona almonds from Spain.
  • An sweet and deeply flavoured cherry sauce.
  • The almond present.

This rice pudding has all of these things in abundance. Well, at least if you remember to add the whole almond and buy the present.

Please share this recipe for risalamande on social media

This is my recipe for risalamande. If you like the recipe please consider sharing it with like-minded dessert lovers on social media.

If you make it and post it on Instagram, please tag me as @foodgeek.dk so I can see it. That would make me very happy.

Risalamande with cherry sauce

Course: Dessert
Cuisine: Christmas, Danish
Keyword: danish christmas, dessert, rice pudding
Prep: 15 minutes
Cook: 30 minutes
Total: 45 minutes
Servings: 8 servings
Calories: 656kcal
Author: Sune Trudslev
Nutrition Facts
Risalamande with cherry sauce
Amount Per Serving (1 serving)
Calories 656 Calories from Fat 351
% Daily Value*
Fat 39g60%
Saturated Fat 20g125%
Polyunsaturated Fat 3g
Monounsaturated Fat 13g
Sodium 126mg5%
Carbohydrates 66g22%
Fiber 4g17%
Sugar 39g43%
Protein 10g20%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.
The classic Danish Christmas dessert. A wonderful creamy rice pudding with chopped almonds and a wonderful red sweet cherry sauce.
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Rice Pudding

  • 1 kg rice porridge
  • 5 dl whipping cream
  • 2 vanilla pods
  • 2 tbsp sugar
  • 100 g almonds roughly chopperd
  • 1 almond

Cherry Sauce

  • 500 g sweet cherries fresh or frozen
  • ½ dl kirsch optional
  • 1 tbsp amaretto optional
  • 120 g sugar
  • 1 lemon
  • 1 orange
  • 1 vanilla pod
  • 1 tbsp cornstarch


Rice Porridge

  • First you should make a portion of rice porridge that you put in your fridge and let it cool completely.
    1 kg rice porridge

Make Cherry Sauce

  • To a pot add: 500 grams or 4 cups sweet cherries, 120 grams or ½ cup sugar, the juice of 1 lemon and 1 orange, 1 vanilla pod, split in half, the zest of 1 orange and 1 lemon, in strips.
    500 g sweet cherries, ½ dl kirsch, 1 tbsp amaretto, 120 g sugar, 1 lemon, 1 orange, 1 vanilla pod
  • Optionally add: ½ dl or ⅕ cup of kirsch, and 1 tablespoon of amaretto.
    ½ dl kirsch, 1 tbsp amaretto
  • Bring it to the boil, and let it simmer for 20 minutes.
  • Then after the 20 minutes reduce the heat all the way done. Fish out the vanilla pod and the zest.
  • Then dissolve 1 tablespoon of cornstarch in some water.
    1 tbsp cornstarch
  • Add it to the sauce, it’s very important that it isn’t boiling, or else it might clump. Then stir gently to distribute the cornstarch.
  • Then bring it to the boil and let it simmer for 2 to 3 minutes more.
  • Then pour the sauce into a scalded jar, and seal it while it’s still warm. This will make the jar airtight.
  • Then let it cool on the counter until it’s handleable then put it in the fridge until you need it.

Make homemade vanilla sugar

  • Split 2 vanilla pods and scrape out the seeds into 2 tablespoons of sugar. Squeeze the seeds into the sugar until it’s well distributed.
    2 vanilla pods, 2 tbsp sugar
  • Put the sugar in the bowl and keep it until later.

Make risalamande

  • Then whip 5 dl or 2 cups whipping cream to soft peaks.
    5 dl whipping cream
  • Put 1 portion of cooled rice porridge in a bowl, and add the vanilla sugar on top.
    1 kg rice porridge
  • Then add about one third of the cream into the porridge and mix it to make it looser. Add 100 grams or 1 scant cup roughly chopped almonds.
    100 g almonds
  • Then fold in as much cream you like until it has the consistency that you’d prefer. Don’t forget to add a whole almond for the present.
    1 almond
  • Cover it and refrigerate it for at least an hour. Serve cold with copious amounts of cherry sauce.


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