What is traditional Risalamande (Danish Rice Pudding Dessert)
This recipe for Risalamande is properly the most famous and traditional Danish Christmas dessert that you can make. Risalamande is a rice pudding with vanilla, almonds and whipped cream, and it's typically served together with warm cherry sauce. The word Risalamande comes from the French word Riz à l'amande, which directly translated means rice with almonds. There are many different ways of spelling the word, Ris a la mande, Ris à l'amande and Ris ala mande just to name some, however, we have been told that the most correct way should be Risalamande so that's the way we spell it.
See also: Recipe for normal Danish Rice Pudding
Risalamande is more or less only served as a Christmas dessert right after the dinner on Christmas eve. In Denmark, and most of the Nordic and European countries, we celebrate Christmas at Christmas eve and not at Christmas day like in the US. The typical way of spending Christmas eve is getting together with family, have a nice Christmas dinner and exchange presents. The typical Danish Christmas Eve dinner consist of roasted pork or duck served with boiled and glazed potatoes, braised red cabbage and brown sauce, and for dessert Risalamande.
Mandelgaven (the Almond Present) inside Risalamande
When the Risalamande is serve it's both a very delicious dessert and a funny game. The Risalamande contains a lot of chopped almonds. It's a great tradition that the person who make the dessert leave one almond unchopped. This extra whole almond is now mixed into the Risalamande. When the dessert is served the person who gets the whole almond in his/hers serving wins a prize.
See also: What is the rice pudding leftover used for?
The prize is typically a smaller present worth about 15-20$. Because the whole almond is hidden in the dessert this will often result in a lot of very full stomachs. If the almond is in the bottom of the bowl people normally keep eating until they have found the almond and won this prize - but that's just a funny part of the game.
How to make the original Risalamande from Denmark
Start by making a portion of traditional Danish rice pudding. You can eat the traditional Danish rice pudding as it is, therefore we have made a separate recipe for rice pudding - however, you can also just follow the instructions below which is slightly changes because it's used to make Risalamande.
The only difference between the two recipes for rice pudding is that the Risalamande version of the rice pudding has vanilla in it and no salt. However, you can use both versions of the rice pudding recipes to make the Risalamande, we have done that many times.
When the rice pudding is ready then add sugar, whipped cream and chopped almonds. The dessert is normally served with warm cherry sauce and it's super delicious. Some people make the rice pudding the day before Christmas Eve and eat some of it for dinner - on the day of Christmas Eve the leftovers, of the rice pudding, is mixed with sugar, whipped cream and almonds and served as the dessert after the Christmas dinner.
This is a smart way to save some time in the kitchen on the busy Christmas eve because you don't have to spend an hour boiling and preparing the rice pudding. This is properly the most traditional Danish Christmas dessert you can have. Enjoy!
- 2.25 dl short-grained white rice (pudding rice)
- 1 dl water
- 1 l milk
- 2 vanilla beans (the seeds)
- 150 g almonds
- 2 tbsp sugar
- 5 dl heavy cream
- 1 can cherry sauce (for topping)
Danish rice pudding (The Risalamande version)
- In a saucepan; add rice and water. Heat up and let it boil for about 2 minutes.
- Add the milk to the pudding and heat up until boiling under constantly stirring.
- Add the seeds from the vanilla beans. This is done by slicing the vanilla beans and scrape out the seeds using a knife. Mix the vanilla with 2 tablespoons of sugar. Also, add the empty vanilla beans to the pudding (they still have a lot of flavor).
- Let the pudding simmer under a lid at low heat. The rice has a tendency to burn to the saucepan so remember to stir regularly. Let it simmer for about 35 minutes.
- Remove the empty vanilla beans. The rice pudding is now done. Let it cool in the fridge before you proceed to make the Risalamande. You can with advantage make this rice pudding the day in advance.
- Heat some water until boiling point and pour it in a small bowl. Add the almonds and let them soak in the hot water for about 5-7 minutes. One-by-one take the almonds up and press them between two fingers so that the peel separates from the almond. Add more hot water if needed. It should be easy to skin the almonds.
- Coarsely chop the almonds and mix them with the cold rice pudding.
- If you used the original recipe for rice pudding (and not the one in this recipe) and boiled the rice pudding without the vanilla beans, then add the seeds of the beans to the pudding now. Add it to the cold rice pudding and mix well.
- In a separate bowl, whisk the heavy cream into whipped cream and gently mix the it with the rice pudding. The Risalamande is now done. Put it in the fridge until serving.
I LOVE Risalamande!!! My dad lived in Denmark for a few years in his early 20's and brought this tradition to our family. Every Christmas. I've never had it with so many chopped almonds though, and it looks fantastic!! I was going to make it tomorrow and now I've got to add the extra almonds. Merry Christmas and thanks for the beautiful recipe:)
Hi Lisa, Thank you for your comment. Yes Risalamande is just fantastic :-) We always add chopped almonds it makes it a bit crunchy and it taste great. Merry Chirstmas to you too :-)
Thank you for the lovely receipe :) my dad was born and raised in Copenhagen Denmark and this recipe (and game) has been a christmastime special tradition since I before I can remember! Many thanks for the special recipe, we will be making this tonight :)
My boyfriend is norse pagan and this Christmas I want it to be perfect and I'm so glad I found this recipe cause now he can have a little of his nordic side in.
With my mum from Denmark the prize was a small marzipan pig! It's my most favorite desert. Don't forget to make pepper nuts !000
Yeah a marzipan pig is a classic 'mandelgave' in many danish homes.
My mother, who was just a baby when her parents immigrated from Denmark, made this every Christmas Eve, but only put in one whole blanched almond. No chopped almonds or cherry sauce, but she put a goodly amount of ground cinnamon and raisins mixed into the pudding. The mandelgave was often a game that usually was played shortly after the meal and went home with the person who found the almond. Bedstefar was known to find the almond and slip it to a grandchild sitting near him, without anyone noticing.
Eric, how sweet to read. We had a very similar experience in my home, and we still try to make due a little one gets it, whe we can :) happy Christmas!
Is it a sour cherry sauce,or a sweet one?Canned cherry pie filling?
It is sweet cherry sauce.
Great recipe, I've just prepared some for tonight's serving of risalamande (: Do you happen to have a recipe for the cherry sauce? I currently live in a country where such is unavailable. Is there a way to make it from scracth?
Thanks :-) Actually I have never tried preparing cherry sauce from scratch. However, some other person left this comment on this recipe for Risalamande. Maybe that can help you.
"For the cherry sauce, I go to the local mediterranean market and get a jar of sour cherries in light syrup,
The brand name I get is ZerGüt, and it is imported by INDO-EUROPEAN in Glendale, CA (very close to my house :-) )
Which is pitted sour cherries cooked in water and sugar.
I heat the cherries and syrup and thicken it with water and potato starch.
This makes a cherry sauce very close to what you get in Denmark."
one summer, as a very young girl, We went to Denmark as a family.
Parents and my 5 brother and sisters.
A danish family of 6 children invited us for a meal.
I have such a vivid memory of this delicious Risalamande...
Must try and make it for my family here in France !
happy festivities !
Just stopped by to see if I could get any new inspiration, but I think I will stick to my moms old recipe, as it is very similar to yours :-)
For the cherry sauce, I go to the local mediterranean market and get a jar of sour cherries in light syrup,
The brand name I get is ZerGüt, and it is imported by INDO-EUROPEAN in Glendale, CA (very close to my house :-) )
Which is pitted sour cherries cooked in water and sugar.
I heat the cherries and syrup and thicken it with water and potato starch.
This makes a cherry sauce very close to what you get in Denmark.
Merry Christmas / God Jul.
Thank you very much for your comment. Actually I have never tried making cherry sauce from scratch. The one we can buy at the super market in Denmark is actually pretty good. I just copy-pasted your "recipe" for cherry sauce to some other person who asked for one. Merry Christmas to you too :-)
I am so, so grateful for this recipe! It has been twenty years since I e had risalamande and after my daughter did a report on Christmas in Scandinavia I decided I needed to figure out how to make it. In the US, since nothing is labeled as grødris, I used Arborio rice - typically used for risotto. For the cherry topping, I used Oregon brand canned tart cherries in water to which I added about half a cup of sugar and a couple of tablespoons of cornstarch and boiled it until the consistency of gravy. It was delicious! Thank you!
i made this for a new years party and it turned out great! i only used one vanilla bean but i think i could have used two. i couldn't find short grain or pudding rice, so i used what i had (long grain) and it turned out great! i added more water in the beginning because mine was evaporating too fast. for cherry sauce, i just used pie filling that i heated up and added some water to.
i would add one more note. this recipe says 4 people. that's a lot of pudding for 4 people. it was prefect for my potluck party though.
Hi Nicole, thanks for your comment. I glad that it turned out great. You are right, there is a lot of pudding for 4 people. I believe we Danes tend to overeat ourselves in this dessert. :-)
go to your local Asian market they will have short grain rice
Dark Morello cherries in light syrup (from Germany) are available at Trader Joe's.
Ann I did not find them at TJ,but I will look next time.
But Tropicana in Duarte (next town over from ours) haves a nice supply, including a lot of other mediterranean food items,
Hi! Does the risalamande rice pudding version need sugar to be added before the whipped cream? Or should the whipped cream be made with some powdered sugar to make it sweet? I'm making this right now I just put the rice pudding in the fridge but I'm confused regarding if it needs sugar to be added at some point or not...
My answer is a little late, but is written in step 8 - Mix the vanilla with 2 tablespoons of sugar, add it to the cold rice pudding and mix well. So it needs to be added before the whipped cream.
I have made this for years and have always served it with Cherry Heering, the Danish cherry liqueur. Itøs hard to find but a big liquor stores might have it.
Also, I do not put water in the rice pudding, just milk.
Sounds great! I use the water so it won't burn to the bottom of the pan as milk can tend to do.
I served an LDS mission to Denmark in the early eighties and brought this recipe home with me. I have made this many times over the years and my family can't get enough of it. Funny, it is loved for breakfast, elevensies, lunch, afternoon snack, dessert, and a midnight snack, I have found that using Danish Dessert (that's what it's called) by Junket makes a great "homemade" fruit sauce and I always use strawberries instead of raspberries or cherries (I have tried both versions and neither of them pass the "good combination" test in my opinion-- it has to harmonize with the pudding, right?). So I thinly slice strawberries and fold them into the Danish Dessert sauce and then I refrigerate it (i.e., I don't go for the warm fruit sauce). Also, for the rice pudding part, I use as much Cool Whip as it takes to get a very fluffy consistency (very important in my opinion). I don't want the pudding to be thick or pasty at all. I have used homemade whipped topping before but I actually prefer the extra creamy Cool Whip funny enough. I use Calrose Rice for the short grain that they are talking about-- it is an expensive rice but you don't want to compromise on this ingredient. I use whole milk-- the pudding needs to be rich and creamy. One other thing, I prefer to mince the almonds so that they don't produce a crunch in the otherwise soft pudding. I am a real consistency, texture kind of guy (you know, no crunchy onions in a potato salad sort of thing). Have fun. I am getting ready to make this for some Swedish guests that are visiting. Wish me luck.
Paul, thank you for the idea of using Danish Dessert Sauce along with sliced strawberries. We have used either thawed frozen strawberries or raspberries in their sauce as a topping. My mother in-law never used cherries in sauce (probably couldn't find), but it would be worth a try. Since it's our turn to host Christmas Eve this year, this can be another option.
I make this every year for my family. Mum is Danish. I don't use water at all and boil up the milk with the spilt vanilla bean and rice. When the rice pudding has cooled a little I strip the vanilla bean of seeds and mix them into the rice with the sugar and almonds. I mix in the whipped cream just before serving when it's lovely and cold. As a short cut for the sauce I heat concentrated cordial (Ribena in our case) mixed with water and cornflour to thicken. Delicious. Our prize for the whole almond is a chocolate Father Christmas. It's not Christmas without it :-)
That just sounds great! I just use a small amount of water in the beginning so the milk isn't burning to the bottom of the pan that easy.
Aren't you supposed to put some sherry into it? My mother's recipe calls for it and is adds just the right note.
Ris a l'amande
750 ml milk
90 gr. rice
60 gr. sugar
2 Tbs. sherry (cooking sherry is good enough)
25 gr. almond (with skin off) or more to your liking.
400 ml. whip cream
Bring the milk to a boil and add the rice. Stir often (burns very easily). Let it cook for 45-60 min. Cool the "groed" (milk and rice mixture). Can easily be made a day ahead.
Stir the "groed" with sugar and sherry. Add the chopped peeled almonds and add the whipped cream. Have one whole almond and some halves and quartered ones to make the game more interesting. Serve with a lukewarm cherry sauce. Strawberries can be used in stead of. Boil the fruit (use frozen) in a bit of water. Thicken it and use as much sugar as you want to sweeten it.
I'm Danish, yes I add 2 T of Sherry, giving a very delicate taste.
Thank you very much for such an informative description of Ris ala`mande. I have made it today for our New Years Eve in Australia :) We just make some warm Raspberry sauce instead as hubby and I are not so keen on the Cherry sauce. I just buy frozen Raspberries and add some caster sugar and heat it up in the microwave, its that easy. We live in Australia now but use to also have the traditional Danish Christmas dinner. I make my own red cabbage here with oranges or sweet apples its full of flavor. Happy New Year 2016 lets pray for an even more beautiful year filled with joy and love, God bless....????
I'm so happy you could use the recipe, and how lovely with the raspberry sauce!
Carol Jensen Giovanetti
I just found your recipe for risalamande, my dad was Danish and when we stayed there many years ago, my aunt Inger used to make this dessert, I am going to make this for our Christmas dinner this year. Thank you.
Carol. Then you are half-Dane :-) I hope you will enjoy the Risalamande.
Love this. Thank you so much for sharing. I had an old old Danish recipe book. But was in danger and had to hurry and get out. I it was one of my things that I had to leave. I really enjoy being able to get this recipe back.
Hi Joann. That sounds serious. However, I'm happy that I can provide you with this recipe - it's really good :-) regards Kim
Hi, I was wondering if JAPANESE SUSHI RICE would work? It's short grain. I want to make HIS before Christmas to see how I like it. I may be only 16% Danish but I love embracing Danish culture!
Hi. I actually think that might work - I've never tried but I can't see why it should not work. If you try I would be happy to hear from you about the result. Regards Kim
I had the same question, and the comments on another Risalamande recipe said sushi rice was almost identical to what they use in Denmark. I tried it, and though none of my family have any basis of comparison (I'm only partly Danish by way of a grandfather who died before I was born, and we weren't really raised on Danish cooking) everybody was raving about how delicious it was, so I must have done something right!
Hi Kiryn. Thanks for sharing that good information. I've never tried sushi rice but I can absolutely imagine they would work perfectly.
I regularly use Jasmine rice.
I use sushi rice in mine--works great! Danish "pearl rice" is only a little bit shorter grain than sushi rice.
Once I used Asian sweet rice, also called glutinous rice. BIG mistake. It was a gummy mess, almost impossible to fluff up to get it to where it could be folded into the whipped cream.
My son spent a year studying in Denmark last year and is home now. One of his Danish friends is visiting us this year and he made this for us last night. How delicious! Thank you for sharing the recipe and I plan to make this again. Of course, we have a big bowl of it still in the refrigerator. :) God ferie.
Hi. I have done some studies in the states as well and I also know some Americans from my university in Denmark. I happy that you like this Danish Christmas dessert. Have some good holidays as well.
Hey. Do you think I can make this recipe with long grain white rice? I wanna make this tomorrow.
Jo Linda. Actually, I don't think the result will be the best if you use long grain rice. I don't think you will get the nice sticky effect. When that s add id, I've never tried myself.
Hello, I am from Northern Canada and because we can't always find cherries, I use canned plums. I grew up eating this every Christmas. My grandparents were from Denmark and came to Canada in 1936. The recipe they used was pretty much the same. Tomorrow is Christmas Eve, I can"'t wait!
Hi Karla. Thanks for your comment I love to hear stories like yours. Christmas eve is just the best day of the year :-)
Thanks so much for publishing this and other Danish Christmas recipes! My father was Danish, and my mother learned the recipes from watching him and his parents make them for years. This is my first year cooking on my own, so I'm glad to have recipes instead of just my spotty memory (I always helped cook a little, but never with a mind toward memorizing what they did). I also never knew the Danish names for the dishes or the almond game. :)
Hi Kirsten. Thanks for your nice comment - I'm happy that you like the recipes. Regards Kim
Hi, so i have to make this dessert for a school project. When it said short grained white rice (pudding rice) can i just buy short grained rice? Pudding rice is super hard to find
Hi. Yes you can use short grain rice.
Twenty five years ago my aunt and uncle hosted a Danish exchange student. My mom wanted to make him feel more at home for Christmas, so she asked him what dish she could make for him, and he described this dish to her. It has since become a loved tradition and we have it every year, even with the whole almond and the prize.
Since our Danish cousin Kim returned to Denmark, he has visited several times, bringing his family with him. My mother talked to his mother, and she said she never made it! Even so we've been enjoying it for years and have always called it Danish rice pudding, even though we were making Risalalmande. How delightful to know the correct name and that it wasn't just a figment of Kim's imagination!
Hi Kristina. What a lovely story. I happy to know that this dessert is also a tradition outside Denmark.
Would Arborio work for this recipe? Many thanks!
Hi. Yes I think would work OK
I use arborio rice every year since I can’t find the rice my mom used....think it was called Dainty Rice also to prevent a skin while chilling the “porridge “ I put the saran wrap right down onto the pudding while it waits to get the whipped cream...also I loosen the porridge with a little milk before adding the cream and my family is split some want the cherries some don’t ....I just wish you didn’t have to spend nearly an hour stirring to keep it from burning...
I use arborio rice every year since I can’t find the rice my mom used....think it was called Dainty Rice also to prevent a skin while chilling the “porridge “ I put the saran wrap right down onto the pudding while it waits to get the whipped cream...also I loosen the porridge with a little milk before adding the cream and my family is split some want the cherries some don’t ....I just wish you didn’t have to spend nearly an hour stirring to keep it from burning...just saw the double boiler idea maybe I can give that a try
Yes, I use Arborio Rice for it. My sister who lived in Denmark for years said it had the right texture.
We use homemade cranberry sauce on it instead of cherry sauce.
Have you ever froze the rice pudding before? Thinking about trying to make it ahead.
My grandfather came to Canada from Denmark in 1926 when he was 16 years years old. My parents took us on a family vacation to visit the aunts,uncles and cousins back in 1985 for Christmas that year. We brought back the Danish Rice Pudding tradition and have done it every year since!
P.S I'm a Nielsen too Grandpa had to change the spelling when he got into Canada to Nielson!
I have actually never tried to freeze rice pudding before. I normally make it some days in advance before I need it for Risalamande. You can keep it in the fridge for maybe 2-3 days. My last name is also Nielsen and very often it is misspelled Nielson by hotels and similar when I travel outside Denmark :-)
I think you can probably freeze the cooked rice part but I wouldn't try freezing it once you've combined with with the whipped cream. I think whipped cream that has been frozen will separate when thawed. Someone commented above that he uses Cool Whip, which can be frozen & thawed many times without changing in consistency but that's because it's made of vegetable oil and chemicals (or something--I'm not even sure). I would consider it if I had to make this dessert for someone who couldn't tolerate dairy, but otherwise, no.
I use a double boiler to cook the rice so that there's no danger of it scorching. No need to stir it at all while it's cooking, just cover and let it cook. It takes about 45-60 minutes total.
Japanese sushi rice worked excellently (portion seems fit for 6-8 rather than just four)
As a Dane myself, I have to say that I have never seen anyone adding almonds, that were not peeled, into the mix. That is particularly interesting to me.
I made this recipe successfully for our family's "Danish Christmas" dinner, after a little bit of trial and error. The recipe doesn't indicate how much sugar to add to the pudding or when to add it. I used 1/4 cup and added with the milk and vanilla. When I boiled the rice with water in the beginning, there was so little water, the rice turned into a hard mass very quickly. The recipe doesn't indicate what quantity of almonds to use. Despite these few problems, I was able to make a rice pudding that my family enjoyed. My son in law who lived in Denmark for two years said it was like the rice pudding he ate there. We used a Greek cherry sauce we already had in the pantry, and we also enjoyed the leftovers with homemade raspberry jam as a topping. Thanks for this recipe - and your pictures are gorgeous!
Sorry for my mistake in the previous comment - now I see you added the sugar after the pudding is cooked. I didn't understand that step.
Arborio rice worked well for me when I was living in Mexico .I have cooked the chopped almonds with the rice and milk and sugar .then added the whole almond and whipped cream the next day.
Served with Raspberry sause[ ( no seeds)
Nobody has mentioned that in Denmark we left out a dish of the rice pudding,groed, fo Santa Claus.
I am planning a traditional Danish Christmas Eve so my grandchildren can learn about there Danish heritage.
Was so excited to find your sight and am going to start learning to make the rice pudding today.
Has anyone tried this in the new Instant Pot?
finally! I have a name! Grandma came from Sweden and this is a tradition we have every Christmas. But grandma insisted on using only american names for things. So this became Christmas rice. Over the years, it was something we always looked forward to and then had laughs at the few who would visit and not care for our special desert. We always put raspberry jam on top of ours.
I'm happy that you found the real name :-) I hope that it can bring back some good memories.
Can you explain why it's necessary to use vanilla beans and not vanilla extract? I'm curious and have always used the extract. Thanks so much, and god jul! (Mor var Dansk, we had this every Christmas eve)
It's just a tradition to use vanilla beans. However, in theory you can just use vanilla extract.
I love this recipe! I just made it. It great!
My late mother in-law made this lush dessert all the time. She made the "cherry" sauce from a liquid drink mix called Ribena. She would thicken it with a slurry;of cornstarch and water.
Ribena is a kind of blackcurrant-based fruit drink concentrate. It is very common in the UK and Denmark. It has a great taste :-) Regards Kim (NordicFoodLiving.com)
Do I serve the rice pudding hot or cold. I know the cherry sauce should be warm.
You serve the rice pudding cold with warm cherry sauce. Regards Kim (NordicFoodLiving.com)
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Hi from the Philippines!!! my boyfriend is Danish and I'm making this to surprise him, I hope I can make it right, he'll be my judge. haha time to gather the ingredients!!! Btw kudos with your instructions, it's really easy to follow (on point) I'll come back once I made it. Have a good day!!! :)
Cindy Pedersen Frederick
My parents came to Canada with three little boys in 1948. Three more children were born here. As a result me ate very Danish foods. Christmas was duck and pork roast with red cabbage and brown potatoes. Apples and prunes in the duck and almond pudding for dessert. However, my father was an only child who didn’t like rice pudding so my Farmor made a type of custard flavoured with rum which held one almond. We used raspberries and cherries as a topping. My parents are long gone and my siblings and I are grandparents and great grandparents and we still use our Farmors recipe. This year I am going to use this one with my family. My grandkids love looking for the almond and I think they will love the story about Oldefar. Thanks do much for your recipe. I am very excited to try it.
Quick tip - sushi rice are more starchy than short grain rice and are identical to the most authentic and original Danish "Parma grødris" used in Denmark. Great recipe Kim - YUM!
Oh this brings back memories. My mother is Danish and risalamande was a staple at Christmas - and my birthday since it was my favorite dessert of all time. I don't know if this is traditional, but Mom always used canned cherries (her sauce included the cherries, as shown in your picture) and she added a splash of kirsch to the cherry sauce for a little extra punch. We didn't do the secret almond thing, but I did get the occasional cherry pit! :)
Sounds delicious. Now I have to figure out how to make warm cherry sauce!
Hej. Jeg har delt din opskrift på en FB side om jul, da din side var skrevet på engelsk og mange gerne ville have en opskrift på ris a la mande.
Det er helt OK :-)
I’m out of grødris from my Mom in Denmark 🇩🇰
Shot grain rice…. Any specific name that we can get in Kroger, Walmart, Target, Marketstreet or similar ?
Got to make it on Friday 23rd so it can “cure” overnight and develop extended flavors
Want it to turn out right, no lumps
Suggestion is appreciated
The rice we use (if our family in Denmark don't get to send us a box) is Arborio Rice. We also put the bowl that we use to whip the heavy cream with, in the freezer for a couple hours before we pour the cream in it to whip with an electric hand mixer. We also add 1 tbsp sugar to the whipped cream.
I highly recommend playing the almond game! Especially if there are young children. My dad would almost always find the whole almond. But he'd pretend to not find it and would distract everyone so he could slip it into my bowl. Oh how I miss those days.
This recipe is exactly how many generations of my Danish family has made it. Thanks! God Jul