It may seem churlish to find a problem with cranachan; as if I’m trawling perfectly acceptable British classics, and picking holes in them. But I promise you this isn’t change for change’s sake.
This isn’t desconstructing a crumble or reconstructing an eton mess or, god forbid, spiralising sprouts for your Christmas lunch. Really, it is enabling cranachan consumption. I will come clean: I am a cranachan enabler. This recipe simply provides a buttery, crumbly vehicle to enable you to eat more cranachan, quicker.
If you don’t know what cranachan is, it’s a Scottish pudding traditionally served on Burns Night, a whisky-spiked cream with muddled raspberries and toasted oats, sweetened by honey.
The reality is cranachan has some quiet little hurdles to overcome. Its place in Burns Night celebrations is unquestioned, but also its downfall. It sits in a difficult place, coming after the pomp and circumstance of the haggis. No one really works their way through a plate of offal, and two types of carbohydrates and thinks ‘do you know what I fancy as a palette cleanser? ‘A bowl of alcoholic cream’. No one addresses the cranachan with poetry mid-meal. Always the bridesmaid, never the haggisy bride. And that needs to change. I promise you, if you make this, it will.
Perversely, adding two slabs of biscuit into the mix, which should make it richer, raises cranachan from a slightly intimidating pudding, into something impossible to resist at the end of a meal. It picks out the traditional honey flavour of cranachan and combines it with that most Scottish of treats: proper shortbread, glazing it with Scottish honey, and sprinkling with sea salt. You’ll wonder why you ever ate cranachan in any way other than messily squidged between two sweetsalty biscuits.
This is a nice dish to make in advance: the shortbread is low-effort, relatively quick, and will keep well for a couple of days, and the cranachan cream can be whipped up in advance. But don’t assemble the sandwiches until just before serving, or they’ll go soggy.
It goes like this:
Cranachan Shortbread Sandwiches
Makes: 6 sandwiches
Takes: 5 minutes
Bakes: 2 minutes (plus shortbread baking)
12 honey and sea salt shortbread biscuits
1 tablespoon of Demerara sugar
1 shot of Scottch whisky (or to taste)
300ml double or whipping cream
1. Place oats in a pan over a medium heat. Sprinkle with the sugar and allow to toast. Move the oats around (the sugar will melt slightly and caramelise them). Take them off the heat as soon as you can smell them.
2. Pour the whisky into the cream and whisk the cream to soft peaks (so that when you pull the whisk out of the cream, it will hang slightly limply off the whisk, and attempt to stand up straight in the bowl, but drunkenly flop over).
3. Mix all but six of the raspberries into the mixture, so that they break down very slightly and dot the cream with pinky shadows. Stir in the toasted oats.
4. Take two cooled shortbread biscuits, and open them out so that the honey glaze is on the outside of each. Put a heaped tablespoon of the cream mixture onto the non-glazed side of one of the biscuits. Place a whole raspberry deep into the middle of the cream. Top with the other biscuit. Serve immediately.
5. Ta Dah!
Icing on the Cake
These make a lovely pudding, whether you’re celebrating Burns Night or not, and look surprisingly elegant on a small plate with a cake fork. But, in all honesty, we ate them without hands. Yes, the cream filling makes a bid for freedom when you bite into the two biscuits. Yes, you end up with the cream all down your face. Yes, it’s glorious.