Friday, April 26, 2013

Rhubarb Cranachan


Yes, I have yet another fruit and cream dessert that I’m crazy for, and I’ve fallen rather hard.  It’s one of those “please take it away so I don’t eat the entire thing myself” types of desserts. In reading British cookbooks over the years, I often came across a rustic sounding sweet called cranachan. Cranachan is a classic Scottish dessert and a quick look at the ingredients assured me I would love it. In the spirit of Eton Mess, Pavlova and strawberry shortcake, this is a cream-and-fruit inspired treat. Rather than including meringue or biscuits, though, this one features toasted oats. And whisky.


A traditional cranachan is made with raspberries, but as we won’t have fresh raspberries for a while I decided to break with tradition and use rhubarb. I’m itching to cook with rhubarb since the slender crimson stalks are appearing everywhere now. Growing up, we had a small patch and I remember my mom heading out many mornings with a kitchen knife to cut some for her pies. I’ve always had a fondness for rhubarb with its tart, bright flavor, and I thought it would make a lovely understudy for raspberries in my cranachan.


I simmered some diced rhubarb with honey, until it softened and turned into a rosy hued sauce. The oats were scattered on a griddle and heated until they browned a bit and smelled warm and fragrant. I whipped the cream and added a splash of Scotch whisky (I can’t mess with tradition here – it must be Scotch!) and the preparation was done.


This is a homey dessert, so I put the bowls of the ingredients out on the table and let everyone make their own. A layer of rhubarb, a scoop of oats, a dollop of cream and we could each stir up our cranachans. The cream balances out the tart rhubarb beautifully, with just a whiff of whisky, and the oats add toasty crunch and flavor. Simple comfort.

Rhubarb Cranachan
Serves 4

1 pound rhubarb stalks, cut into 1 inch pieces
1/4 cup honey
1 cup rolled oats
1 cup heavy cream
1-2 tablespoons Scotch whisky, depending upon your taste (I used Glenlivet)

Place the rhubarb and honey in a medium sized sauce pan over medium-high heat. Bring it to a simmer and mix. The rhubarb will start to soften and break down, releasing juices. Lower the heat and let cook for about 15 minutes, until the rhubarb is soft and rather like a sauce. Set aside to cool.

Spread the oats out on a griddle or large fry pan. Over medium heat, stir and gently toast them until they begin to turn a bit brown and are fragrant. Watch closely as they can burn easily. Set aside to cool.

Using an electric mixer, beat the cream until soft peaks form. Add the Scotch whisky and gently stir. You can make it ahead and keep in the fridge.

When ready to serve, place the rhubarb, oats and cream in individual serving bowls with spoons and bring them to the table, along with small dessert dishes and spoons. Scoop from each bowl, mix and enjoy!

30 comments:

  1. Just stop. Whiskey and oats? How have I never heard of this dessert before? I can't wait to try it!

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    1. I hope you enjoy the cranachan, Lynda! It was devoured almost instantly, so I'll be making it again soon. I may increase the whisky a tad, too... Wishing you a wonderful weekend!

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  2. wow - your creativity yet marked simplicity is just amazing. Jammy rhubarb with scotch cream - OMG! I had a tough start to the morning, but this post calmed me right down!

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    1. Oh, Beth, I wish I could have brought you some cranachan. I hope your day improved! Your description is perfect - "jammy rhubarb with scotch cream" is spot-on. I hope you have a delicious weekend (and knowing what comes out of your kitchen I'm sure you will)!

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  3. Hannah! I'm so over the moon in love with this recipe! Ok, making it soon, pinning and splattering all over facebook. :)

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    1. Many thanks, Karista! I appreciate it - so kind of you. Wishing you a marvelous weekend!

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    1. Thank you, Tori! I hope you like it - lots of "yums" around here as it was devoured almost instantly. Have a lovely Shabbat!

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  5. Wow, this is awesome Hannah! I am so used to heavily sweetened Rhubarb desserts it's so nice to see one that works with the Rhubarb more naturally!

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    1. Thank you, Alyssa! I agree, rhubarb tends to be over-sugared and we lose the fresh, tart flavor. In this case, the cream tempers the tartness a bit but without much sweetness. I think whipped coconut cream would be terrific, too. Have a great weekend!

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  6. I love cranachan, never tried rhubarb and it's one of my springtime favorites. Must give this a try, I have a box of Familia muesli, bet that would be good subbed for the oats. This sounds fantastic.

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    1. Oh, I'm delighted you've had cranachan before, Suzanne! It was new to me but I already know it'll be a regular on our dessert menu (must try it with raspberries now!). I think muesli would be marvelous! I hope you enjoy it. Happy weekend!

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  7. Carole's Chatter is collecting links using rhubarb today. This is a nice one. I do hope you pop over and link in. This is the link . Cheers

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    1. Thank you for the invitation, Carole! I just popped over and linked up. What a terrific, seasonal theme - love the collection of recipes you're sharing!

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    2. Hannah, thanks for linking in. I have now also pinned this to the special Pinboard I have created for Food on Friday: Rhubarb. http://pinterest.com/ca4ole/food-on-friday-rhubarb/ You can see the other links at a glance there and pick the ones you want to check out.
      I hope to see you again soon Cheers

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    3. Thank you for pinning it, Carole! I look forward to checking out the other rhubarb recipes.

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  8. Hannah, this looks wonderful. I've often heard cranachan mentioned on cooking shows and in cook books, but I've never actually tried one. You make it look irresistible, and I love your idea of using rhubarb instead of raspberries.

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    1. Thank you so much, Sue! Now that we've tried cranachan I have a feeling it will make many appearances on our table...such a lovely treat. Once raspberry season arrives I'll have to give the traditional version a try, too.

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  9. I've never heard of cranachan before. And now that I have, I think I might be a little bit in love with it.

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    1. Ohhh, I think I can safely promise you'll love this one, Brooke! I loved it with the rhubarb and now I'm thinking cranachan will be a terrific indulgence all through berry season...strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, marionberries. Can't wait!

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  10. I've heard of cranachan but didn't know anything about it. Now I feel as if I know everything there is to know! Really great version of this, and an inspired way to use rhubarb. Love this - thanks so much.

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    1. Thank you, John! It's definitely a pleasure to share about cranachan. We devoured it almost instantly, so I know I'll be making it again soon.

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  11. Hannah, your blog is incredible! I'm so happy I've found you. You really raise the bar on foodie recipes and photos! I'm excited to try this rhubarb recipe, as I've got some ripe rhubarb in the garden. Thank you! Sending foodie hugs. =-)

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    1. Hi Frances, thank you so much for your kind words! I'm happy to connect with you. And I'm envious of your garden rhubarb...we had some years ago and then it got overrun so I need to plant again. I hope you enjoy the cranachan - we devoured it almost instantly!

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  12. Although this is new dish to me, I love rhubarb and this sounds very creative and healthy to me. I love the natural light coming to the food. Very beautiful!

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    1. Thank you so much, Nami! I was happy to catch a bit of early morning light (and then eat cranachan for breakfast!). Rhubarb is one of spring's pleasures that I look forward to and I just picked some more up to make jam this weekend. Happy Friday to you!

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  13. It is a Scottish classic Hannah :) And I love your rhubarb version. What a great idea to let everyone make their own too :)

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    1. Thank you, Mairi! This really is a marvelous dessert and I'll definitely be making the more traditional one when raspberries are in season. So good!

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  14. what an interesting and creative dessert! something new to try

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    1. I hope you like it, Orly! As I said, I have a weakness for cream and fruit desserts, so I am happy to try another one. With berry season approaching I'll definitely be making this again with the more traditional raspberries.

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