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Christmas Dessert

So far this month we've covered a couple of appetizers. But in considering all things good for the Christmas table we need to include at least one sweet dish.

One of the first things that might come to mind would be Christmas cookies. Everywhere you look there are recipe contests, Cookie walks, cookie exchanges and cookies on the desk of the person next to you.

So, let's do something different. At first what came to mind was Figgy Pudding. For those of you who know the Christmas Carol "We Wish You a Merry Christmas" then you know that those who are singing the song won't “leave until we get some”. So you might think that this Figgy Pudding is some awesome stuff.

I've looked into it and, of course, found dozens and dozens of variations. The consensus seems to be that Figgy Pudding is sort of a bread pudding. Of course, one of the main flavoring ingredients are figs and fresh figs can be difficult to find, so I eliminated this option.

So let's try some rice pudding today. When I was growing up we Swedes had a tradition of rice pudding with one almond in the dish. The person who got the almond was supposed to have good luck and good cheer throughout the next year. So when you make the following recipe consider this fun tradition.

Rice pudding comes in many shapes flavors and sizes. All the recipes seem to have rice, water and milk. The flavorings include cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, cardamom, vanilla and more. Many different types of fruits can be added as well, even figs.

This is a dish you can make and bring with you to Christmas dinner or a Christmas party. Everyone will love it including those who are on wheat free, gluten-free diets.

Christmas Rice Pudding

4 cups whole milk3/4 cup sugar1/2 tsp salt2 tsp vanilla extract1 cinnamon stick1/2 cup Arborio Rice4 egg yolks1/4 cup powdered sugar fresh grated nutmeg for garnish

In a large saucepan combine the milk, sugar, salt, rice, vanilla and cinnamon stick. Bring to a simmer over low heat and cook until rice is tender and liquid has absorbed, about 35 minutes.

In a medium-sized bowl, whisk together the egg yolks and powdered sugar. Remove the cinnamon stick from the rice mixture. Temper half of the warm rice mixture into the egg yolks a little at a time, whisking vigorously. Combine altogether and place over low heat stirring until thickened.

Place the mixture in your favorite Christmas serving dish, smooth out the top and garnish with the nutmeg. Refrigerate for 1 to 2 hours. For a somewhat fancier dinner service, you may also fill individual ramekins, of course garnishing with nutmeg.

By the way, don't forget the almond.

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