cranberry rice pudding

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Danish Christmas Rice Pudding With Berry Compote

From the book Roast Figs, Sugar Snow by
Serves 6 to 8


This is the finale to the Danish Christmas meal, served on Christmas Eve. In the past, there was just one almond hidden in the whole pot of rice pudding, and it would bring luck to the finder. Nowadays they are more liberal with the almonds. The Danes serve this dish with a berry compote, usually made with dried or tinned sour cherries, but I like it with the tartness of cranberries. This is too good just to serve at Christmas, so make it any time from October when the first cranberries appear.



~ Just over 2 cups red wine
1 cup superfine sugar
½ stick cinnamon
1 lb. 2 oz. (500 grams) cranberries


10½ oz. (300 grams) pudding rice (see Note)
~ Just over 6 cups whole milk
cup superfine sugar
3 tsp. vanilla extract
3 oz. (75 grams) slivered almonds
2 cups heavy cream, loosely whipped


  1. Make the wine-poached cranberries: Put the red wine in a saucepan with the sugar and cinnamon. Heat slowly, stirring a little to help the sugar dissolve. Put the cranberries into the wine, turn the heat up until the liquid is simmering, and poach slowly until the berries are tender, about 20 minutes. Removed the poached berries to a dish and reduce the wine by boiling until you have about 1 cup left. Let this cool slightly, then pour it over the cranberries. Remove the cinnamon stick.
  2. Make the rice pudding: While the berries are cooking, put the rice, milk, and sugar in a heavy-bottomed saucepan and gently bring it to a boil. Turn the heat down low and leave the rice to cook, stirring it frequently, for about 15 minutes, or until the rice is tender and the milk has been absorbed. If the milk is absorbed too quickly — perhaps because the heat is too high — add a little more milk. Stir in the vanilla extract and almonds.
  3. Assemble the dessert: Let the rice cool, then fold in the whipped cream. Serve cold or at room temperature with the warm berry compote.


Culinate editor’s notes: Pudding rice is a short-grain rice available in Britain but hard to find Stateside. You can use any kind of white rice instead, although short-grain rices (try Asian sweet rice) will cook up better than long-grain rices. Allow 30 minutes, not 15, for ordinary rice to cook.

This recipe makes an enormous quantity of pudding; cut it in half and you’ll still be able to easily serve 4 to 6 people. Here’s a cheat sheet for halving the recipe:

1¼ cups red wine (Marsala wine also works well, and a slug of Grand Marnier provides a nice citrusy touch)
½ cup sugar
1 cinnamon stick (don’t bother trying to hack a stick into quarters)
9 oz. (2½ cups) fresh or frozen cranberries
6 oz. (¾ to 1 cup) short-grain white rice, rinsed well and drained
3 cups whole milk
⅓ cup sugar (don’t halve this amount; the original recipe is undersweetened)
1½ tsp. vanilla extract
1½ oz. slivered almonds (or less, if you’re just using them as a garnish)
1 cup whipping cream

Since cranberries are high in pectin, you can skip the boiling-down-the-wine step in the original recipe; the sauce will thicken nicely on its own. And the folding-in-whipped-cream step is a lovely thing, but you can also skip it and still feed five dinner guests dessert.

This content is from the book Roast Figs, Sugar Snow by Diana Henry.

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1. by Susanne Broe-Vayda on Dec 30, 2009 at 8:20 AM PST
Rating: one

Hmmm..interesting recipe. I have made the authentic version of this dish for many years now - after my mother, in turn, made it every year for Christmas. I totally disagree with the addition of Cranberries - yech! What a bad idea! The richness of the cherries is completely necessary to the flavours of this dish - what is it with the current mania for putting cranberries in everything? Also, the sugar is totally unnecessary - unless you add tart cranberries, I guess - but again, why? Finally, we don’t use vanilla extract- instead, a whole vanilla bean, split, so that the black seeds can combine with the rice and whipped cream, luscious, wonderful, mmmmm.
From the final paragraph by the Culinate editor:
“And the folding-in-whipped-cream step is a lovely thing, but you can also skip it and still feed five dinner guests dessert.” - Millions of Danes would disagree - Skip the whipped cream, add cranberries, use extract instead of the real vanilla bean, but please don’t call it Danish - because it has been altered so much to be unrecognisable!!! Call it rice pudding with cranberries instead.

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