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Known as the “King of Scottish Desserts”, Cranachan means “to churn” in Scottish Gaelic. This simple yet absolutely delicious dessert combines some of Scotland’s most treasured ingredients: delicious rich cream, toasted oats, Heather honey, fresh raspberries and of course, Scottish whisky. While the ingredients are few, this dessert evokes the heart and soul of Scotland though and through.
Once you learn how to make it, you’ll find it easy to whip up anytime you want something a little sweet.
What Does Cranachan Have To Do With Burns Night?
Originally made as a way to use the bounty of Scotland’s raspberry harvest in June, and a derivation from a traditional Scottish breakfast called crowdie, cranachan, one of Scotland’s most popular desserts, is now a year round favorite.
It’s also become a tradition to serve on one of Scotland’s favorite holidays: Burns Night. Burns night, falling on January 25th, celebrates the birthday of Robert Burns, an 18th century poet, story-teller, composer and Scotland’s national bard who’s work continues to inspire those in Scotland and around the world 222 years later. In an interview, Bob Dylan even reported that the Burn’s poem ‘Red, Red Rose’ was his greatest inspiration of all time.
Celebrated in good company, Burns night traditions include a “Burns Night Supper” of haggis, neeps and tatties, listening to bagpipes, reciting Burns poetry as well as various toasts including a “Toast the Haggis,” a “Toast to the Lassies” and a “Reply to the Laddies.” The night ends on a sweet note with a traditional dessert like cranachan, but one thing is for certain: there’s always plenty of Scotch whisky.
For a dessert with few ingredients, it’s taste is sophisticated, delicious, and evokes the heart and soul of Scotland though and through.
If you want to celebrate Burns Night, but you aren’t sure where to start there are many resources online to guide you. You can also make it a special night to spend with the ones you love, expressing gratitude and toasting the work of friends, family, people, or communities that you admire most. Our toast would go straight to our heroes: the frontline and essential workers who have helped us get through the challenging last few years. Your bravery and dedication has kept our world spinning. We thank you!
How To Make Cranachan
Once you learn how to make this Scottish whisky laced dessert, you’ll find it easy to whip up and add your own special touches. Maybe prepare it for a friend or neighbor to show your appreciation.
Here are the Cranachan ingredients you’ll need:
Steel Cut Oats (Pinhead Oats): The oats in this cranachan recipe are soaked in The Classic Laddie whisky from Bruichlddich (overnight is best but 4 hours will do) and then gently toasted in the oven. You can toast them in a pan, but the oven method yields a more even toast and makes them harder to burn. You do have to watch them though.
The result is a warm and crispy oat with the lingering flavor of whisky that adds lovely contrasting texture to the raspberries and cream. You don’t have to soak the oats and you can simply just toast them, but for when serving guests at something like a Burns Night feast, soaking is the way to go. Rolled oats, which are common in the U.S. aren’t traditional to cranachan, but there’s no harm in using them.
Authentic Scotch Whisky: The Scots are serious about their cranachan, but they’re even more serious about their whisky. For this recipe only the Scottish kind will do. We’re using The Classic Laddie from Bruichladdich made off the western coast of Scotland, on the Hebridean island of Islay (pronounced “EYE-luh”) which is world-renowned for their Scotch whisky.
Unlike most of the scotch whisky made on Islay, Bruichladdich’s Classic Laddie is an unpeated (non-smokey) style whisky. Smooth and warming with toffee, malt, vanilla, oak, caramel, apple and berry notes, it’s also the perfect choice for this recipe. Made with 100% Scottish barley and triple distilled, The Classic Laddie’s naturally gorgeous golden-caramel color is derived entirely from maturing in a variety of cask types, without ever using additives. Other distilleries often can’t say the same.
Give this one a try even if you think you don’t like Scotch. The Classic Laddie is deliciously approachable and easy to drink for anyone who’s beginning to explore the world of Scotch whisky. You may be surprised at how lovely and drinkable it really is. It will also make the perfect dram to pour for your Burns Night toast!
In this recipe, the Scotch whisky is added to your whipped cream for some serious Scottish flavor. You can soak the oats in it before toasting as well.
Heavy Cream and Mascarpone (optional): In Scotland, cranachan is made with a type of cream called double cream, which has a 48% fat content. Richer in taste and texture than heavy cream available in the U.S., (about 36-40% fat content), we decided to add a touch of Mascarpone to our whipped cream to bump up the richness and make it closer tasting to the Scottish original. Adding Mascarpone is completely optional.
Warmed Honey: Traditionally Scottish cranachan is made with Heather honey, which is used to sweeten the cream
This thick, reddish-amber honey with caramel-like flavor that’s slightly bitter, pungent, and smoky and made from bees pollinating Heather, a low-growing flowering shrub native to Europe that grows and thrives all over Scotland.
In the United States Heather honey can be hard to find, but there are online shops where it can be special ordered if total authenticity is your goal. You can substitute a dark amber honey, or simply use whatever you have in your pantry.
Be sure the honey is warmed before adding to the whipping cream, so it can easily blend in.
Fresh Raspberries: The raspberries in cranachan are gently mashed and layered in the cream. Scottish raspberries, which come into season each June, are considered the best in the world and prized for their large size and exceptionally sweet taste. They’re also different from the more sour tasting raspberries we get here in the states, so it’s best to add a little sugar or honey to sweeten them a bit after mashing, to replicate the flavor you’d naturally get with Scottish raspberries. Allowing them to stand will give the raspberries a chance to release their natural juices and make for a pretty dessert!
Get The Recipe!
- 2 cups 12 oz fresh raspberries (can use frozen when not in season)
- ½ cup Steel Cut Oats also called pinhead oats, soaked in whisky overnight
- ¼ cup Bruichladdich Classic Laddie Scotch Whisky
- 4 Tbsp honey
- 1 1/2 cups of heavy whipping cream
- ½ cup Mascarpone cheese optional
- Shortbread optional
- Chill Your Cream Bowl and Whisk: Place the beaters and bowl of your mixer in the fridge or freezer to cool. If whisking by hand, simply chill your whisk.
- Mash the raspberries: In a small bowl, crush the raspberries with a fork until you get a chunky puree leaving pieces of raspberry remaining. Add honey or confectioners sugar to sweeten. Add more to taste if you like. Set aside.
- Toast the Oats: Preheat the oven to 350 F (175 C) and spread the oats out in a thin layer on a small baking sheet. Bake for 10 minutes or until fragrant and they’ve become light nutty light brown color. Remove from the oven and allow to cool.
- Whisk the cream: When your bowl and beaters are well chilled, add the heavy cream to the bowl. Whisk until the cream on medium-high speed until just starting to thicken. Turn off the mixer. Scrape down the sides of the bowl then add the mascarpone (optional), scotch whisky and honey. Whip until completely incorporated and the cream holds soft peaks.
- Assembling the Cranachan: In a small jar, a tall glass or parfait dish starts to layer the ingredients. First, place some fresh raspberries in the glass. Top with whipped cream, the toasted oats and the raspberry puree. Repeat until your jar or glass is full. To serve, top with a final dollop of cream, sprinkle with toasted oats and then garnish the top with a few fresh raspberries to finish. Put it in the refrigerator to cool or serve immediately.
- Alternate Method: Lay the dessert ingredients out on a table individually and allow guests to assemble their own how they please.
- Serving the Cranachan: Serve along with shortbread and a dram of whisky or two. Enjoy!
Visit Bruichladdich to learn more about The Classic Laddie and how it is made, their amazing process, people and passion for their Scotch whisky.