Cranachan is a traditional Scottish dessert often served for St Andrew’s Day, a Burn’s supper or just a good Scottish celebration. To celebrate the Auld Alliance in France with Scotland, I have given it my own original French twist to make a Cranachan Parfait.
The result is a no-churn honey and Whisky ice cream topped with crispy oat praline and served with fresh raspberries on rounds of buttery shortbread.
What is Scottish Cranachan?
The Scottish Cranachan is a dessert originally served to celebrate the summer harvest festival. It’s particularly popular served as dessert for traditional Scottish celebrations such as Saint Andrew’s Day (30 November) and Burn’s Night (25 January).
The word, Cranachan, comes from the Scottish Gaelic, meaning ‘to churn’.
It is simply made with few ingredients: double cream mixed with oatmeal, Whisky and honey and fresh raspberries.
Many Scots love to soak the oatmeal in Whisky – others like to toast it.
Is Cranachan a Parfait?
Traditionally, Cranachan is not a parfait.
Perhaps I have confused some people on the internet but happy to report that this recipe is my very own original French twist to the Scottish classic. It’s all in the spirit of the Auld Alliance (‘Vieille Alliance’ between Scotland and France).
So this is an ice cream version of this classic Scottish dessert, served on homemade shortbread and topped with oat praline and fresh raspberries. For a simpler, more classic version, see my friend, Christina’s recipe – which is approved by Outlander actor, Sam Heugan!
When is Cranachan Normally Served?
Cranachan is normally served in November for St Andrew’s Day on 30th and on January 25th at a Burn’s Supper – or indeed, for any form of Scottish celebration menu.
What if I can’t find Fresh Raspberries in Winter?
However, in winter we are often short on fresh, seasonal raspberries – as in France, fruit is all naturally geared around the seasons.
Frankly, there’s still nothing to beat the best Scottish raspberries. I miss them. Luckily at our local French farmers’ market, I can sometimes find some tart raspberries from Morocco. Surprisingly, they were exceptionally full of flavour for winter.
So, if you can’t find good quality fresh berries, thinly spread some good quality raspberry jam on the shortbread rounds before placing the Cranachan parfaits on top. In a normal Cranachan, use defrosted frozen berries – or a good quality fruit purée.
Enjoy this for any Scottish occasion, or at any time of the year and ideally serve with a good single Malt Whisky.
Just add blueberries if wanting to be patriotic for a red-white-blue dessert.
Incidentally, the Gaelic word for cheers translates as Health, just like the French. Cheers, Santé, Sláinte !
Cranachan Parfait: Developing the Recipe
For the parfaits, I took inspiration from Michelin starred chef, Anne-Sophie Pic. She makes a vanilla parfait by making a hot syrup and pouring it directly onto egg yolks and whisks until frothy. She then adds whipped cream and turns it into spherical moulds.
Instead, I simply replaced the syrup with a runny floral honey (if in Scotland, use heather honey) and since I was adding Whisky to the cream, doubled the portion of egg yolks in order for it to solidify more in the freezer. As the freezing point isn’t the same with the alcohol, the ice creams come out beautifully soft.
How to Make Cranachan Iced Parfaits
Beat together the yolks and heated honey. Whip the cream, add Whisky (or Whisky liqueur) and fold the two mixtures together. Pour into moulds, chill and freeze for at least a couple of hours – preferably overnight.
Crispy Oat Praline
Instead of oatmeal for the traditional dessert, I’ve made a simple praline with porridge oats to add a slight crunch for the texture. If you love crunchy praline on desserts, try this nutty French nougatine recipe.
How to make the oat praline: First make a caramel by heating the sugar on a medium to high heat without stirring for about 5-10 minutes. Once it turns golden, shake the pan to dissolve the sugar further into the caramel, add the butter, mix together with the porridge oats with a wooden spoon.
This oat praline is deliciously buttery and can keep so well in a sealed jar – great for sprinkling on any caramel desserts or ice cream. Then make homemade buttery shortbread disks to go underneath the honey and Whisky ice cream domes.
As my Granny’s Black Book of Baking contains several shortbread recipes, here I have used one of her best – my personal favourite. This shortbread recipe uses more butter than her other recipes, so it compliments this dessert well.
What’s more, it’s easy to work with so it’s a win-win.
Normally with shortbread recipes, we place the dough directly into a non-stick baking tray and flatten it out using a palette knife. Before it’s baked in the oven, we score the shapes desired using a knife and cut in advance.
For this recipe, however, to make it easier and with no wastage for cutting out the same size of disks for the ice cream parfaits, I roll out the dough first, cut into disks with a cookie cutter or glass and place apart on a non-stick baking tray. By chilling simply for 10 minutes, this stops the shortbread rounds from spreading. Then bake for 20-25 minutes until golden brown.
Perfect shortbread thins, just the right size to place underneath the Cranachan ice cream domes – to compliment a really Scottish dessert – with a parfait French touch!
Can I make Cranachan Parfaits without the moulds?
No moulds? No worries. This Cranachan Parfait recipe doesn’t have to be made using moulds. In fact, it’s even easier!
Pour the cream mixture into a loaf tin lined with parchment paper and once chilled in the fridge, cover with cling film and place in a freezer bag. Freeze overnight. When ready to serve, un-mould onto a serving plate and cut into slices.
Likewise, if not using moulds, then for the shortbread, score rectangular shapes with a knife while still warm to make it easier to cut later. When cool, cut out shortbread fingers and serve with the ice cream slices.
What Can I Make with the Leftover 4 Egg Whites?
I have a few egg white recipes – so save the whites for later.
Keep the egg whites up to 5 days in a clean jam jar in the fridge (or freeze until ready to bake) to make macarons, financiers, dark chocolate mousse, tuiles, meringues and coconut macaroons from my books and le blog.
Can I Make this in Advance?
This is also a great make-ahead dessert, as the parfaits can keep in the freezer for up to 10 days, so it’s parfait to prepare this in advance. Just don’t forget to buy the raspberries on the day of serving.
Make this a gluten free dessert by replacing the shortbread with Cranachan Macarons or a giant pink macaron. Likewise, serve with raspberry and rose macarons. The cranachan macaron and giant macaron dessert chapter are both in my first book, Mad About Macarons!
- 4 egg yolks (organic, farm fresh)
- 4 tbsp runny honey (Heather honey, if possible)
- 2 tbsp Malt Whisky
- 350 gr (12oz/ 1½ cups) Whipping Cream (30%) Heavy cream/ Crème fleurette
- 100 g (3½oz/ 1 1/5 cup) rolled oats
- 75 g (3oz/ 1/3 cup) granulated sugar
- 25 g (1oz/ ¼ stick) unsalted butter
- pinch salt (fleur de sel, Maldon or Celtic sea salt)
- 200 g (7oz/scant cup) unsalted butter (softened)
- 75 g (3oz/ 1/3 cup) caster sugar
- 200 g (7oz/1¾ cups) flour (all-purpose)
- 75 g (3oz/5 tbsp) rice flour (or cornflour)
- pinch salt
- fresh raspberries to serve
- Chill a large bowl in the fridge for the cream. Place the egg yolks in another large bowl, heat the honey without boiling it (I put it a few seconds in the microwave) and pour it over the yolks and beat with electric beaters (or a stand mixer) for about 10 minutes until thick and moussy.
- In the chilled bowl, whisk the cream like a Crème Chantilly until soft peaks and the same consistency as the yolk-honey mixture. Add the Whisky and beat again until well mixed. Gently fold the 2 mixtures together and spoon either into spherical silicone moulds (this used 10 spheres), greased muffin tins, or in a lined cake tin. Transfer to the freezer for 2 hours or leave overnight to set.
- In a saucepan, heat the sugar over a medium heat without stirring. Just as it starts to change colour after about 5 minutes, shake the pan to dissolve all of the sugar into the caramel. Once the caramel is medium golden, add the butter, salt and stir to mix well then pour in the oats. Stir until the oats are well covered then immediately transfer to a baking tray.
- Once cool, break the praline into small pieces and reserve in a jam jar. (This can keep for about 10 days).
- Preheat the oven to 180°C/160°C fan/360°F/Gas 4. Cream the butter and sugar together in a large bowl until pale and creamy (either by hand or in a stand mixer). Gradually add the flour, rice flour and salt until the mixture comes together into a dough that's easy to work with.
- Roll the dough out with a rolling-pin until about 1cm thick. Cut out disks with a cookie cutter or glass (the same size as the moulds). Space out each shortbread disk on a non-stick baking tray (they will only slightly spread - to stop this chill in them directly on the tray in the fridge 10 minutes beforehand). Bake in the oven for about 20-25 minutes or until golden brown.
- Leave to cool on a wire tray.
- When ready to serve, place the shortbread disk on each plate (spread each with raspberry jam if no fresh raspberries), turn out the frozen parfaits at the last minute and place on top. Sprinkle with the oat praline and, if using, serve with fresh raspberries.
Store the egg whites in the fridge for 3-5 days and make macarons (recipes in my books), financiers, Tuiles, or chocolate mousse.
Otherwise freeze the whites in a sealed jar until ready to make them. Measures: Please note that all my recipes are best made using digital kitchen scales in precise metric grams. Both ounces (and cups) are given as an approximate guide.
This recipe was first published 20 January 2019 but is now completely updated.