Risalamande (also spelled as ris à l'amande and other variants, though risalamande is the only spelling authorized by Dansk Sprognævn; from pseudo-French riz à l'amande meaning "rice with almonds"), is a traditional Danish dessert typically served at Christmas.
Risalamande was created in the last part of the 19th century. It is made out of rice pudding mixed with whipped cream, vanilla, and chopped almonds; and is usually served cold with a cherry sauce (kirsebærsovs).
It gained popularity when rice pudding became more common. Until then rice pudding had been a very exclusive dish, as making it required two expensive, imported ingredients: rice and cinnamon. After World War II, risalamande experienced an increase in popularity, being touted as a "savings" dessert: adding whipped cream (which was easily available) to the still fairly expensive rice would make the rice last longer. In order to minimize costs, risalamande was frequently made without almonds during this time, too.
A similar traditional Danish Christmas dish, risengrød, is essentially risalamande before the whipped cream, vanilla, and almonds have been added, and is typically served hot, topped with cinnamon and butter.
Nowadays, it is very common to make a large batch of rice pudding for dinner on lillejuleaften ("Little Christmas Eve", i.e. December 23), a part of which is kept until Christmas Eve and used to make risalamande, which is eaten as dessert after the big Christmas dinner.
Normally, a whole almond is added to the dessert, and the person who finds it wins a small prize—such as a chocolate heart, a marzipan pig, or a small board game. Part of the game involves the finder concealing their discovery as long as possible, so that the rest of the company is forced to eat the entire dish of risalamande, even after they have already devoured a large Christmas dinner.
In Sweden, this dish is called ris à la Malta, which is a corruption of the Danish name. Typically it's made of chilled leftover rice pudding, whipped cream, sugar and vanilla, with or without almonds. By tradition, the person finding a hidden almond in the dessert is expected to get married before the next Christmas. A variety containing diced oranges is called apelsinris. The dish is mostly served with either a smooth cordial-sauce, jam or semi-thawed frozen berries. A commercially sold snack, similar to Ris à la Malta, is sold under the name "Risifrutti" since 1993.
Norwegians have a similar dish called riskrem (“rice cream”) and, as in Denmark, the person finding a hidden almond in the dessert wins a mandelgave (almond-gift) in the form of a marzipan pig or the like. The desert may contain almonds for flavour, but mostly chopped on top as decoration. In Norway, the sauce is also normally made of raspberry (or even strawberry) rather than cherry.