Christmas Pudding with Hot Cherry Sauce

Today, Sunday the 23rd of December, is “Little Christmas Eve” and many Danes are busy making the last preparations for Christmas Eve, the day they celebrate Christmas with family and friends, dancing around the Christmas tree, opening presents and eating a large meal of duck, pork roast or turkey. Many are making risengrød, rice porridge, as one of the first steps to making Christmas pudding with hot cherry sauce. Many families take a small portion of this rice porridge with butter and cinnamon and leave it some place in the house where the Nissen (a mythical creature of Scandinavian Folklore), can find it. These “nisse”, a fictional character which has its roots from the 1800’s farming community, are small like pixies, would help with successful drift of the farm. That is, if you were respectful and behaved yourself. Hence, a large bowl of risengrød, (rice porridge) was left for the “nisse” as part of the festive event like Christmas.

This is the traditional Christmas Eve dessert in Denmark. One blanched whole almond is hidden in the pudding just before serving. All the guests at the table serve themselves with a small or large portion of pudding depending on how much they want to win the “almond present.” Whoever gets the hidden almond wins a special gift. This gift is often a pig made out of marzipan. It is a contest that everyone wants to win. The person who has the almond will try to hide the almond, making sure everyone keeps eating even after they are full. So, if you want to play this game at Christmas, be sure and make plenty of Christmas pudding.

This picture is from my book “Dinning with the Danes” by Lynn Andersen .

Christmas Pudding with Hot Cherry Sauce

(Risalamande med Warm Kirsebærsauce)

Serves 6

1 3/4 pint (1 liter) whole milk

3 oz. (90 g) short-grained rice

½ tsp. salt

1 tsp. pure vanilla extract

2 oz. (60 g) blanced, coarsely chopped almond

1½ cups (12 fl. oz.) heavy cream, whipped

1 whole almond (optional)

Cherry sauce: 1 lb. (455 g) canned stoned cherries in their syrup

1½ tsp. cornstarch

To make pudding, bring milk to a boil in a heavy-bottomed pot. Add rice gradually, stirring constantly. Cook mixture over low heat for 50 minutes. Be careful not to let the rice burn. Remove pot from heat and stir in salt. When rice mixture is cold, stir in vanilla extract and chopped almonds. Fold in whipped cream. Refrigerate before serving.

To make cherry sauce, place cherries and their syrup in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Dissolve cornstarch in a little water. Pour into boiling liquid, stirring constantly.

To serve, serve hot cherry sauce immediately with the cold rice pudding.

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