- Serves: 6-8
- Cook Time: 55 minutes
- Prep Time: 30 minutes plus chilling and overnight soaking
- Effort: easy
For the almond rice
- 200 g whole unblanched almonds
- 1 tbsp butter, for greasing
- 220 g short-grain pudding rice
- 1 litre milk
- 1 vanilla pod, split lengthways
- ½ tsp salt, optional
- 2 tbsp clear honey, optional
- 2 tbsp caster sugar
- 1 tbsp vanilla sugar or ½ tsp vanilla extract
- 500 ml whipping cream
For the cherry sauce
- 425 g tin whole black cherries, in syrup, pitted
- 1 tbsp cornflour
- 2 tbsp brandy, optional
1. For the almond rice: put the whole almonds in a bowl, cover with boiling water and leave to soak overnight.
2. The next day, grease a large saucepan with the butter. Add the rice to the pan and just enough water to cover it. Bring to the boil and boil briskly, uncovered, for 2 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the milk, vanilla pod and salt, if using. Return it to a low heat and bring the mixture gently to the boil, then partially cover the pan and simmer for 30 minutes, stirring frequently to prevent the rice from sticking.
3. When the rice is soft and creamy, take the pan off the heat. Carefully remove the vanilla pod (it will be hot!), then open it up and scrape the seeds inside back into the rice using a teaspoon. Stir well, then pour the rice mixture into a large bowl and leave to cool completely.
4. Meanwhile, drain the soaked almonds well and pat dry, then slip off and discard the skins (children are good at doing this). Select one large almond and set it aside. Chop the remaining almonds, but not too finely. Lightly toast half of them in a dry frying pan over a low heat for a few minutes, adding the honey, if you wish to use it. Remove the pan from the heat, stir in the remaining chopped almonds and leave them to cool before stirring into the rice mixture. Add the caster sugar (if you are using it) and the vanilla sugar.
5. In a separate large bowl, whip the cream until it resembles soft peaks, then lightly fold into the rice mixture. Transfer the rice to a serving bowl and hide the reserved whole almond somewhere in the middle. Chill it until you are ready to serve.
6. For the cherry sauce: pour the cherries and their syrup into a small saucepan and heat gently until almost boiling. In a small bowl, mix the cornflour with 2 tablespoons of water until smooth. Add the cornflour mixture to the cherry sauce and stir over a gentle heat until it thickens. Simmer gently for 1-2 minutes, still stirring, and then add the brandy. Pour the cherry sauce into a jug and serve warm alongside the almond rice.
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