Last night, my uncle G. and his partner A. hosted their 2nd annual Robbie Burns Day dinner complete with haggis, neeps and tatties, and a dram to celebrate the Scottish bard.
R. was in charge of the customary Toast to the Lassies, and I dessert.
Having exhausted my Scottish repertoire with last year's rosemary shortbread, I did what any self-respecting Gen Y baker would do: tweeted for help.
First to respond? Direct from the bonnie land, Jenny C. of Red Mangetout.
"Cranachan. Raspberries, cream and oats all mushed up together."
Good for a crowd? Check.
Well suited to travel by public transit? Well, can't win them all I guess.
After sifting through a dozen or so recipes online, it became clear I was going to have to wing it. Some versions called for enough whisky to souse a sailor, others just a drop of drambuie or raspberry liqueur. The plain toasted oats that some deemed endearing, others found bland. Nearly every recipe* called for fresh raspberries and crowdie cheese (a soft cheese with a mildly sour flavour), neither of which were going to be easy to locate in Vancouver in the dead of winter.
What I ended up with was an exceedingly rich—but not overly sweet—trifle that went down like a dream. Good enough to keep the diners happy and the Scottish grandparents from rolling over in their graves. I hope.
3 tablespoons butter
3 tablespoons honey
2 1/2 cups oats, large flake
2 cups whipping cream
550 grams mascarpone cheese (2 tubs)
1/4 cup honey
1/4-1/3 cup drambuie, to taste
3 cups frozen raspberries, defrosted and drained of most of their juice
Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
In a small saucepan over low-medium heat, melt the butter and honey. Remove from heat and stir in the oats until evenly coated. Spread the mixture evenly across a baking sheet. Bake for 15-20 minutes or until golden, stirring once after 10 minutes. Pour the granola into a bowl and set aside.
Using electric beaters, whip the cream on high just until it begins to thicken into soft peaks. Add the mascarpone cheese, honey and drambuie and beat on medium speed until thoroughly combined.
In a medium bowl, preferably glass, spread half of the whipped mixture. Cover with half of the raspberries, followed by half of the granola. Repeat the layers in the same order. Cover and refrigerate until served.
Note: The granola softens a bit over time, which I kind of enjoyed. If you prefer some crunch, prepare all of the components (granola, whipped mixture, raspberries) in advance and layer them just before serving. Individual parfaits would be a good option too, but make sure the glasses are small!
* The exception being a Bon Appétit version posted on Epicurious that skipped the berries altogether for a chocolate concoction that bore little resemblance to anything else I came across.