Rice à la Malta

Ris à la Malta

Rice à la Malta

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Ris à la Malta is a popular Christmas dessert and usually forms part of a julbord (Christmas buffet), although it can be served at any time of year. Essentially, it is cold rice pudding mixed with whipped cream and served with a fruit sauce.

The origin of the name is disputed! My preferred theory is that Ris à la Malta was originally garnished with syltade apelsinskal (orange rind jam - not the same as marmalade). We know that in the early 19th century Johan Gustav Göllcher, a well-known Swedish seafarer, shipped oranges and lemons from Malta to Stockholm every year and so perhaps these were used to make a garnish for rice puddings.

In French, "à la Maltaise" means something that has been made with sweetend orange peel, ideally using Maltaise oranges, a semi-blood orange. Adding syltade apelsinskal to rice pudding would have been a wonderful, somewhat exotic, treat at the time. Perhaps "à la Maltaise" became shortened to "à la Malta". (Thanks to Göran Rygert for his help with this research.)

A photo of Ris a La Malta from a Swedish cookery book

To photo above of Ris à la Malta i bärsaft (Rice à la Malta in berry sauce) taken from the 1948 edition of Prinsessornas nya Kokbok by Jenny Åkerstrom supports this theory as it is shown garnished with syltade apelsinskal. However, this does not provide conclusive evidence as the recipe also suggested that the puddings could be garnished with friska bär (healthy berries)! I think that may provide the clue about why syltade apelsinskal is not used as a garnish normally these days: make it was too much palaver and so it was easier just to use berries or not bother with any garnish!

However, Wikipedia publishes a completely different theory about the origin of Ris à la Malta claiming it has nothing to do with Malta, the country! They say that the name arose from a corruption of the Danish name, Risalamande. Get it? Me neither! Also, all the Swedish recipes I have come across use a capital M for Malta suggesting that the name really does refer to Malta the country!

In short, the origin of the name of Ris à la Malta remains a mystery, but it is a very nice dessert anyway! John Duxbury




• The creamed rice for Ris à la Malta should be served cold, straight from the fridge.
• If serving Ris à la Malta on a julbord (Christmas buffet), stand the creamed rice in a bowl of ice to keep it cold.
• Any fruit can be used to make the sauce. (Raspberry, cherry and plum are probably the most popular). Traditionally the sauce is made with a fruit cordial (syrup), although I prefer a thicker more fruity sauce. There are recipes for both below.
• The sauce can be served hot or cold, but the rice is always served cold.
• Garnish with roasted almond slivers if desired.
• Many Swedes like to hide a blanched almond in one of the puddings because it is said that whoever gets the almond will get married, or at least find true love, the following year! Strictly the almond is really only supposed to be hidden in risgrynsgröt (rice pudding/porridge), but it is such a cute tradition than many Swedes I know can't resist putting an almond in Ris à la Malta!


Creamed rice

500 g (2 cups) cold rice pudding
150 ml (⅔ cup) whipping cream
1 tbsp   caster (superfine) sugar
2 tsp   vanilla sugar
    roasted almond slivers, optional
1   blanched almond (optional)


Either: Traditional sauce

200 ml (1 cup)* fruit cordial (syrup)
300 ml (1½ cups) water
1½ tsp   potato flour (starch) or cornflour (cornstarch)

*Don't mix units

Or: Fruity sauce

250 g (1 cup) frozen raspberries, defrosted
2 tbsp   icing sugar (confectioner's sugar)
1 tbsp   lemon juice
¾ tsp   potato flour (starch) or cornflour (cornstarch)


1. Whip the cream until quite stiff. Mix in the sugars. Fold into the cold rice pudding. Refrigerate until required.

2. Either (for the traditional sauce): mix the cordial and water in a saucepan. Whisk in the flour (starch). Bring to the boil, stirring continually until it just begins to bubble. (Do not overcook the sauce because otherwise it will end up too gooey.) If serving the sauce cold, when cold transfer to a fridge to cool completely.

Or (for the fruity saucy): add the raspberries, sugar and lemon juice to a frying pan and heat gently until the sugar has all melted and the raspberries are soft. Pass the mixture through a sieve into a saucepan to remove the pips. Allow to cool slightly and then whisk in the flour (starch). Bring to the boil, stirring continually until it just begins to bubble. When cold transfer to a fridge to cool completely.

3. Serve the pudding in individual bowls. Pour over some sauce, garnish with roasted almond slivers (optional), hide a blanched almond in one of the bowls (optional) and serve straight away, whilst the rice is still cold.


printer copy sb  printer version.pdf

Phone-and-tablet-h32  phone & tablet version.pdf



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