Ris à l'amande, despite the very French sounding name, is a traditional Danish rice pudding dessert that is typically served during the Christimas season.
It's basically pudding rice cooked in milk, left to cool in the fridge overnight, then whipped cream, sugar, vanilla and minced almonds are gently folded into the rice pudding. When served you top it off with a sweet cherry sauce.
I think it's a lovely dessert, but it's never been my favorite in the world. I think it's because I'm not a huge fan of the pudding rice to be honest. I generally love rice, but that short-grain, chubby rice just doesn't please my palate for some reason. It's odd because it's a similiar type of rice that is used for sushi or paella and I love those! However when used for a dessert, that thick rice just doesn't do it for me.
Anyway I thought I would play around with the traditional recipe. I wanted to make something I'd actually enjoy with the added bonus that it would be a healthier alternative to the original. As an extra challenge I would make it a vegan recipe so almost everyone, regardless of dietary preference, could enjoy this recipe.
So what did I do differently?
Firstly, I swapped the pudding rice with Pearl Couscous. The larger couscous grains are similar to the pudding rice but I quite like the consistency of the couscous better.
Naturally, pudding rice is also a vegetarian/vegan option so if you prefer the rice, then use that instead.
I then swapped out the regular milk with almond milk because I have a slight lactose intolerance.
I also used sugar alternatives like Bodylab's Powdered Sugar and Bodylab's Coconut Sugar instead of regular processed sugar.
I also swapped the traditional 38% heavy whipping cream out with Alpro's 26% soy whipping cream.
I also used significantly less than the traditional recipe calls for without compromising the texture or flavor of the end result.
If you are worried that this soy whippign cream will leave your dessert with a vegetable aftertaste, then I can assure you that it definitely won't.
I was also a bit worried about the aftertaste but to my delight, this whipping cream tastes great! It only took 2 minutes to whip into a nice thick whipped cream and it had a lovely creamy consistency.
Thumbs up to Alpro! I am loving their soy products.
And by the way both of the ingredients, couscous and Alpro whipping cream were bought in Bilka.
A big addition to this recipe are Bodylab's organic Chia Seeds.
Why add Chia Seeds you ask? Well firstly, I felt the dessert was lacking a bit in its nutritional profile. Chia seeds are packed with omega-3 fatty acids, fiber, protein, manganese, calcium and more. They are the ultimate superfood nutritionally speaking.
I also wanted to add some more texture to the actual pudding and chia seeds are perfect for this. Chia seeds are flavorless so you can virtually add them to anything without affecting the overall flavor. But they also work as thickeners, much like gelatine, when added to liquid.
And last but not least, for the fabulous cherry topping, I used Bodylab's new ZERO Cherry Topping from their SuperFoods line.
I know you might be thinking that it can't possibly taste as good as the traditional sugary cherry sauce, but it is actually VERY good! I'd almost bet that you wouldn't know the difference in a blindfold taste test.
It has the same dark color and texture as the store-bought cherry sauce but it contains no added sugar.
True that it doesn't contain whole cherry pieces, but I can easily live without them. So you can enjoy the lovely taste of the cherry sauce with much fewer calories.
It's a WIN-WIN!
Danish Tradition Fun Facts
In Denmark, when the ris á l'amande is served after a big and heavy Christmas dinner, there is 1 whole almond hidden in the bowl.
The person that gets the whole almond in their serving wins a little prize... BUT! This person is supposed to conceal the fact that they have gotten the whole almond, forcing everyone to eat the entire bowl of pudding in the search of the prized whole almond.
It's a fun little game in case you want to adopt a new Christmas tradition :)
So without further ado.. here's my Vegan "Ris" à l'amande recipe.. Now dubbed Vegan Chia CousCous á l'amande! I hope you enjoy it! Merry Christmas! Feliz Navidad! Glædelig Jul! :)
200 gr pearl couscous
1 liter almond milk
2 tbsp Bodylab's coconut sugar
2 tbsp Bodylab's powdered sugar
150 ml Alpro soy whipping cream
2 vanilla bean pods
100 gr minced blanched almonds
3 tbsp Bodylab's chia seeds
Prepare the couscous (or the pudding rice) according to the instructions on the packet. Make sure not to overcook the grain, you want it to be al dente.
Once the grain is cooked, drain all excess water, return grain to the medium-sized pot and add the almond milk.
Over high heat constantly stir the milk and couscous for approximately 1 - 2 min. till it boils.
Once the mix is brought to a boil, reduce the heat immediately to very low heat and cover the pot with the lid.
Allow the milk and couscous mix to simmer for 30-40 minutes, remember to stir occasionally.
After the 30-40 minutes are up, the mix should have reduced and become thicker - a pudding-like consistency. Remove from the heat and put in the fridge till the mix is completely chilled, preferably overnight.
While the pudding chills, you can blanch the almonds - if in doubt as to how to do this click here for instructions.
Once the almonds are peeled, set 1 whole almond aside and finely mince the rest.
Whip the Alpro soy whipping cream until it has doubled in volume and has a stiff whipped cream consistency (takes approximately 2-3 min with hand mixer set at high)
Add and gently fold the minced almonds, the seeds of the 2 vanilla bean pods, the sugar alternatives and 1/3 of the whipped cream in to the pudding mixture.
Taste the mixture to see if you want to add any more sweetener or vanilla extract.
Carefully fold the remaining whipped cream along with the chia seeds in to the pudding.
Cover the pudding once again, put in the fridge and allow the chia seeds to set for at least 20 minutes before serving.
If you are serving the whole bowl for your guests to serve themselves, gently mix the 1 whole almond in to the pudding. If you are serving your guests in small bowls, gently slip the whole almond into 1 one of the individual bowls.
Top the ris á l'amande with Bodylab's ZERO cherry Topping- don't have cherry sauce or topping at hand? Ris á l'amande also tastes great with other sauces like raspberry or chocolate.
I also like to add a bit extra minced almonds and Bodylab's organic cocoa nibs before serving.
Enjoy! And a very Merry Christmas to you and yours <3