This is about as authentic as a fake fur sporran but it tastes good and if you have some cranberries left over from Christmas it’s an excellent way to use them up, perhaps as a New Year’s Eve pud.
Traditionally, according to Catherine Brown’s excellent Scottish Cookery, Cranachan or Cream-Crowdie was a way of celebrating ‘harvest home’. On the table would be a bowl of cream mixed with crowdie, a sort of stiff, lemony cottage cheese. Beside it would pinhead oatmeal, toasted low and slow in the oven until it was nutty, fresh fruit (nowadays raspberries but originally probably blackberries and blaeberries), a jar of heather honey and a bottle of whisky. Each person would create their own mixture, spooning the ingredients into individual bowls and washing it down with more Scotch.
These days it’s usually made as a sort of layered individual trifle. The oatmeal makes the dessert quite dense, so it’s best served in small glasses.
Crowdie is almost impossible to get south of the border and there really isn’t a good substitute. Ricotta and regular cottage cheese are too sloppy, marscapone is too rich, Philly is just wrong. If you can’t get crowdie, use extra double cream as per the ingredients list. Don’t omit the whisky, though.
Happy New Year to all of you and thank you for the fun and the follows, the comments and encouragement, and most of all for paying Mrs P the ultimate compliment … cooking the recipes on these pages.
140g Skinny Crowdie
2 heaped tablespoons of Greek yoghurt
160 ml double cream (or omit the crowdie and yoghurt and use 350 ml double cream)
4 tbsp whisky
2 tbsp runny honey (or more, to taste)
65g pinhead oatmeal (or porridge oats)
Sprigs of mint to garnish (optional)
For the cranberry puree:
150g fresh or frozen cranberries
1/2 large orange
To make the cranberry puree, remove the peel from the orange (minus the white pith) and cut out the orange segments, leaving behind the skinny bits. Place peel and flesh in a food processor with the cranberries and sugar and whizz to a thick sauce. A little texture is fine. Set aside for the flavours to meld.
Put a dry frying pan on a medium heat and toast the oatmeal, stirring often. Don’t rush this. You’re looking for the oatmeal to brown slightly and crisp up, but not for it to burn.
If you’re using crowdie, beat it in a bowl with the double cream and stir through the yoghurt to loosen slightly. Otherwise, whip the cream to soft peaks.
Fold in the honey and whisky, followed by most of the oatmeal, saving a few tablespoons for sprinkling on top. Taste and adjust, adding more honey and/or whisky if you think it needs it.
Dollop two tablespoons of the cranberry mixture on top of the whipped cream and give it two folds with a spoon, no more. It will ripple further as you spoon it into the glasses.
Layer the two mixtures into glasses, with thinner layers of cranberry than cream. Top with a sprinkling of the reserved oatmeal and sprigs of mint if you’d like a bit of colour contrast.
Chill in the fridge. The oatmeal will soften the longer you leave it, so if you prefer it a bit nubbly, serve it sooner rather than later.