Sprinkle stardust on your rice pudding and serve Scandinavia’s favorite Christmas dessert.
Rice pudding is an old Scandinavian dessert dating back to the latter part of the 19th century in Denmark. Scandinavia has always had a love affair with porridge, so the leap was not very big from porridge to dessert. Rice pudding is made in Norway, Sweden and Denmark for Christmas. The dessert consists of rice porridge mixed with vanilla and whipped cream and served with a red sauce. Adding whipped cream makes the rice pudding very creamy. All three countries put a whole almond in the rice pudding, and the one who finds it receives a gift, often a pig made of marzipan.
When it comes to the sauce, the three Nordic countries choose their separate roads. Norwegians are quite down to earth and serve a red sauce based on berry juice thickened with potato flour. Swedes often serve their pudding with oranges and candied peel. The Danes elevate the dessert to a meal to remember. They embrace a sauce made of cherries called kirsebærsovs.
The easiest way to make the cherry sauce is to use a glass of preserved cherries. I always preserve cherries in the autumn in a flavoured syrup made with cinnamon stick and lemon peel. On Christmas Eve the only thing I have to do is thicken it with maizenna and add lemon juice to balance the sweetness. This way you are making slow fast food that has had several months to develop its wonderful flavour. But if you have no preserved cherries in your pantry, you can always use frozen cherries (as I have done in the recipe below).
Rice pudding is leftover food. At our house we eat rice porridge on the day before Christmas Eve. The next day the porridge is transformed into the most delicious dessert. This desserts gets even better the next day, so go ahead and make porridge the day before.
Rice pudding (makes 6–7)
1 portion of creamy rice porridge (you find the recipe here)
300 ml heavy cream
1 tbsp sugar
1. Make the rice porridge. Place in a bowl. Allow to cool rapidly in cold water.
2. Remove the vanilla pod. Whip the cream with the sugar and add the porridge. Mix well. Place in the refrigerator (for some hours or until the next day).
Red cherry sauce
300 g / 11 oz cherries (frozen is fine)
75 g / 3 oz sugar
250 ml water
1 stick cinnamon
1 star anise
a little squeeze of lemon or orange juice
1–2 tbsp corn starch (maizena)
1. Add cherries, sugar, water and the spices to a pan. Bring to boil for about 30 minutes on low heat. I like to keep the berries whole, hence I pick them out after 15 minutes.
2. Adjust the taste with some lemon- or orange juice. Thicken the sauce with maizena while the sauce is still boiling. Add the maizena (gradually to control the thickness) while you are stirring.
3. Add the cherries to the sauce and allow to cool. The sauce is even better the day after. Remove the star anise before you serve it.
Stardust (almond brittle/croquant)
75 g / 3 oz sugar
125 g / 4 oz chopped almonds
1. Put a piece of parchment paper on a big chopping board. Heat a frying pan on medium heat.
2. Place the sugar in the pan and shake the pan to distribute the sugar evenly. The sugar will after a while start to melt into caramel. Do not stir the sugar. Be patient. Watch out, as the caramel easily burns. You might experience that the sugar melts faster in some areas, if so, shake the pan to move the sugar about.
3. When the sugar has turned into mediumbrown caramel, add the chopped almonds. Remove the pan from the heat and place the brittle on the parchment paper.
4. Finely chop the brittle and keep in a jar. It can be stored for several months.
Serve the rice pudding with almond brittle on top and the cherry sauce on the side.