For the rice pudding
1 vanilla bean, split and scraped
625ml full-cream (whole) milk
625ml pouring (whipped) cream
1 cinnamon stick, halved
An eighth of a teaspoon ground
1 strip lemon zest, with white pith removed
220g short-grain white rice
40g blanched almonds, very finely chopped
For the cherry sauce
300g frozen cherries, defrosted
80g caster sugar
Half a teaspoon cornflour
One and a half tablespoons sweet dark cherry liqueur, such as schnapps
Vienna almonds or other toffee-coated roasted almonds, lightly crushed, to garnish
Put the vanilla bean and seeds, milk, cream, cinnamon, cardamom and lemon zest in a large saucepan over high heat and bring just to the boil.
Stir in the rice, then when it returns to the boil, reduce the heat and simmer for 30 minutes, stirring regularly.
Add the sugar and stir until dissolved. Continue simmering for about 15 minutes, stirring often, until the rice is tender and creamy. Stir through the chopped almonds; remove the vanilla bean, cinnamon stick and lemon zest and discard.
Meanwhile, to make the cherry sauce, put the cherries and their juices, together with the sugar and 60ml water, in a saucepan over medium-high heat and stir until the sugar has dissolved. Mix the cornflour with 2 teaspoons cold water until smooth, then stir into the cherries. Bring to the boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for 5 minutes, or until thickened. Stir in the cherry liqueur.
Serve the rice pudding in bowls with the cherry sauce over the top and sprinkle with the crushed Vienna almonds. Serve immediately.
Note: it is a Danish tradition to place a whole almond into one bowl of pudding. Whoever finds it wins a small Christmas present, such as a marzipan pig!
Taken from 'Snowflakes and Schnapps' by Jane Lawson (Murdoch Books, £25). Photograph by Brett Stevens.