Glasses of risalamande with cherry sauce on a white wooden surface. Pink marizpan pigs frolick between the glasses.

Risalamande is a rich, lightly sweet rice pudding is topped with a warmed tart cherry sauce and served on Christmas Eve in Danish homes. According to tradition, the pudding is made to keep the Nisse (a mischievious elf-like creature) happy so they won’t cause havoc (rot the crops, scare the farm animals, sour the milk). Before taken to the table, one whole almond is added to the pudding. Whoever finds it wins a prize, traditionally a marzipan pig. Recipe courtesy of Kristine Mathers of The Danish Place in Puslinch, Ontario.


Yield/Servings 6-8 servings


10 minPrep Time

50 minCook Time

1 hrTotal Time

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    For the Tart Cherry Sauce
  • 300 g (1 cup) pitted canned sour cherries
  • 60 ml (¼ cup) sour cherry juice or water
  • 2 tablespoons sugar, to taste
  • 1 teaspoon cornflour
  • Cherry liqueur, to taste, optional
  • For the Rice Pudding
  • 1 L milk, plus more as needed
  • 210g (approx. 1 cup) raw starchy medium- or short-grain rice, such as arborio or pudding rice
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 tablespoon, icing sugar, as needed, optional
  • 1 blanched almond
  • 250 ml (1 cup) heavy or whipping cream
  • 1 tablespoon icing sugar, optional
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract, optional


    To make the tart cherry sauce:
  • Add juice or water, sugar, and cornstartch in a heavy saucepan and whisk until smooth. Set the hob to medium and bring to a boil. Stir until slightly thickend (about a minute or two). Add the cherries, stir and let cool. Warm the sauce before serving.
  • To make the pudding:
  • Boil milk, rice, icing sugar and 1 teaspoon vanilla in a heavy-bottomed pot. Stir occasionally so the rice doesn't catch at the bottom of the pot.
  • Boil for a few minutes before lowering the flame to a slow simmer. Stir often until the rice is cooked and has absorbed the milk--if necesssary, add more milk if the pot looks as if it will boil dry before the rice is tender and firm, but not mushy nor with a hard centre. This stage will take 30-45 minutes.
  • Remove from heat and cool completely before covering with cling film and placing in the fridge.
  • Before serving:
  • Whip cream, 1 tablespoon icing sugar, and vanilla to firm peaks.
  • Fold into the cold pudding, a couple spoons at a time, until the pudding has reached the consistency you prefer (you may have some leftover cream). Stir in the almond, and decant into an (opaque) serving serving bowl for the table. Serve along side the warmed tart cherry sauce.

What’s a spoon or a cup?

A version of this recipe appeared in profile of Kristine Mathers and her family for my World of Food column for Grand Magazine (November-December 2019).

This recipe was mentioned as part of my appearance on CBC-KW’s Sounds of the Season, 2019.