Cranachan is a delicious, easy Scottish dessert that's the perfect end to your Burns Night feast, and just as good on a summer's day. With only 5 ingredients, it takes no time to make so you'll want to enjoy it often.
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Unless you are Scottish, or know someone who is, I appreciate you probably don't have a clue what the title of this post means. Don't worry, I will explain all.
But if you want a short summary - cranachan is a delicious, easy and boozy dessert and it fits in perfectly as part of a Scottish feast that will probably involve whisky. Or just eat it any time. If that sounds good, as I hope it does, then keep reading!
What is Burns night?
If you're a regular reader, you may remember me mentioning Burns Night before. But in case not or if you need a reminder, it's a celebration of Scotland's national poet, Robert Burns. While you may not know the name, you probably know things he wrote:
- Auld Lang Syne (as sung at New Year around the world);
- To a Mouse (if you don't know the poem, you probably still know the line, "the best laid plans of mice and men," thanks to another well-known book);
- My Love is Like a Red, Red Rose.
As a child growing up in Scotland, we had Burns recital contests in my elementary/primary school. I took part a number of years (and even won for my yeargroup once - I think I can still remember all the words of the poem I recited then!)
How is Burns Night celebrated?
While we didn't go all out, my family celebrated Burns Night in a small way by enjoying the traditional meal of haggis, neaps (mashed turnips/swede/rutabaga) and tatties (mashed potatoes).
If you go to a more formal Burns Night celebration, the haggis will be brought in to bagpipes playing and then Burns' poem "To a Haggis" recited as it is toasted and cut into. I'll admit I didn't always like haggis, but it grew on me and we even had haggis stuffed chicken as part of our wedding meal.
What to eat for a Burns night celebration
While as I say haggis is the most traditional main, you can vary things and have it more as a smaller appetizer portion, as I sometimes do with my simplified haggis (it uses ingredients that may be less off-putting and easier to find but tastes pretty close to the real thing).
If you only want a taster of haggis, try chicken Balmoral (haggis stuffed chicken) or if you want to avoid haggis altogether, though I recommend trying it, you could have my chicken with oatmeal stuffing and whisky sauce instead or as well.
In terms of appetizer, we never tended to have one, but Scotland has many wonderful soups that would be perfect. You could try Scotch broth (a stock-based soup with barley and vegetables) , cullen skink (smoked haddock chowder) or cock-a-leekie soup (stock with leeks, chicken and rice).
After your haggis, or whatever you opt for, this cranachan is just the thing for dessert. Finally, if you still have space, a few oatcakes with cheese and smoked salmon pate would be the perfect finale. And if you need some finger food in there (and more haggis!) try some haggis sausage rolls.
What is cranachan?
Cranachan is a very traditional Scottish dessert. It's made with oatmeal, raspberries, whisky, honey and cream, all products that are readily available and high quality in Scotland. Actually traditionally it's made partly with 'crowdie', a local cheese. Some people substitute quark, but using just cream gives a lighter dessert (and it's more readily available).
How to make cranachan
It's incredibly easy to make, as you simply:
- toast the oatmeal,
- whip the cream
- fold everything together.
Although in theory you can use regular oats, this should be made with what is often called pinhead oatmeal or Scottish oatmeal (steel cut is pretty much the same). It's worth using a fairly good whisky as you will taste it, but I'd suggest a more mellow one rather than smoky.
Cranachan is a lovely mix of flavors and while it's a natural ending to a Burns night celebration, it would be perfect anytime. In fact, since it uses raspberries it's more of a summer dessert really. But for me, I'd take any excuse, and Burns Night is a good one. Fresh sweet raspberries, smooth cream and that lovely flavor of the whisky coming through. It's a tasty dessert that deserves to be better known and enjoyed.
Try these other easy creamy desserts:
- Eton mess (made with cream, meringue and fruit)
- Apple panna cotta
- Creme Anglaise ('real' custard)
- Plus get more dessert recipes in the archives.
You'll also find more Scottish recipes in the British recipes archives.
- 3 tablespoon pinhead oatmeal also called steel cut, Irish oats
- 1 cup whipping cream (1 cup is ½ pint)
- 1 cup raspberries plus a couple more to top
- 2 tablespoon whisky
- 2 tablespoon honey
- Lightly toast the oatmeal either in a dry skillet/frying pan or on a baking sheet/tray under a broiler/grill. It will take a few minutes, but you should start to smell it become a little nutty. Take care not to let it burn. Set aside to cool as you prepare the rest.
- Whip the cream to at least soft peak, if not a little firmer. Gently mash the raspberries - you don't want them completely pureed but at least letting some juice out and a bit broken.
- Fold the whisky and honey into the cream, ensuring well mixed but without making the cream too runny. Fold in the oatmeal, saving ½tbsp to top. Then fold in the raspberries and transfer to serving glasses/bowls.
See some of my favorite cooking tools and ingredients in the Caroline's Cooking Amazon store.