Riskrem: A classic Norwegian Christmas dessert
I am sure as children, and even adults, we have all been guilty of quickly and dutifully finishing our dinner in anticipation of dessert. Whenever my mom declared we would have riskrem for dessert, this was usually the time I didn’t care what the main course was once I learned what would follow. Riskrem was a special treat, and which remains one of my favorite desserts to date, that I knew would come the day after my mom served “risengrynsgrøt” for dinner. In typical Norwegian fashion, every bit of food that was made from the days before were utilized and created into future meals.
Norwegian tradition through generations has been that on the day or night before Christmas Eve (also called “lillejulaften” or “Little Christmas Eve”), families would make risengrynsgrøt for dinner, and a bowl was also placed outside by the barn for Santa Claus to enjoy before he went off on his long journey of delivering presents to all the homes in the world.
The leftover porridge from Little Christmas Eve will then be turned into the especially tasty, sweet and creamy riskrem dessert on Christmas Eve. I love this tradition, the way I love so many traditions from my home country. When so much else changes in our daily life year in and year out, I really cherish that some things remain the same, such as what we eat and what we do on Christmas.
Riskrem is a traditional Scandinavian Christmas dessert; a delectable rice pudding served cold, made up with leftover rice porride, sugar, whipped cream and vanilla sugar with a red berry sauce, In Sweden and Denmark it is also common to add in chopped nuts, and in Sweden they also add in bits of orange, where it is referred to as appelsinris. Read about that and get the recipe in my previous blog post.
In Denmark, riskrem is sometimes also referred to as “risalamande”, a sort of French spin off of the word riz a l’amande (rice with an almond), referring to the almonds in the pudding. As part of our tradition, an almond is hidden in the porridge or rice pudding and whoever finds the almond wins a prize, typically a pig shaped candy made out of marzipan.
According to statistics, almost half of all Norwegian families enjoy riskrem for dessert on Christmas Eve. In my family we didn’t serve this dessert for the holidays, because my mother felt (and we agreed) that the main course was so heavy that nobody had much room to properly enjoy this dessert directly following the big “ribbe” dinner. Instead we waited an hour or so and had an Irish coffee with some cookies while opening presents… worked for me! The riskrem would wait for us the following day, which gave us something to look forward to once the biggest day of the year eventually was over.
There’s still time to whip this up if you want a little extra taste of Norway this holiday season!
Makes about 4 portions
2 cups rice porridge *
2 tbsp confectioners sugar or to taste
2 tsp vanilla sugar or vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups heavy cream or coconut cream
50 grams or 1/4 cup toasted almonds, chopped (optional)
Whisk the heavy cream or coconut cream with the confectioners sugar and vanilla sugar/extract in a stand mixer until light and fluffy. In a bowl, fold in the whipped cream with the rice porridge and sprinkle in the almonds, if using.
Many people use a pre-packaged red sauce (Piano is a very common brand in Norway) to make it easier to prepare this dessert, but I prefer to make everything from scratch. Here is a super quick and simple recipe for a delicious red sauce to pour over your riskrem:
Red Berry Sauce:
1 cup water
1 cup sugar
500 grams or a little over 2 cups fresh raspberries (or strawberries or cherries or any berries you prefer)
In a medium pot, heat up the sugar and water and bring to a boil. Whisk until all the sugar has dissolved. Pour the sugar water mixture in a blender or food processor and add the raspberries. Process until nice and smooth. You can strain the sauce through a chinois if you prefer an even smoother consistency.
1 cup short grain rice, such as Arborio
2 cups water
4 cups almond milk (or coconut milk)
1 vanilla bean pod, split in half
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 tsp salt
Rinse the rice in a colander and drain. Pour the rice in a medium pot with the water and bring to a boil, then lower to a simmer and cook until all the water has soaked into the rice. Add the milk, the vanilla bean pod (scrape the insides out and throw into pot along with the pod), sugar and salt. Bring to a boil while constantly whisking, turn the heat down to a simmer and cook for about 45 minutes until you have a thick and smooth porridge. Make sure the milk does not burn at the bottom, watch your temperature. Pour it into a large bowl and let it cool so you can make riskrem, alternatively eat it straight away warm for dinner, with a dollop of butter in the center and sprinkled with sugar and cinnamon. Yum!!
Image from aperitif.no