The Perfect Dessert for Robbie Burns Day: Whisky-laced, Of Course

by Kristina Campbell - January 25, 2018

Photo Credit: by Kristina Compbell
Photo Credit: by Kristina Compbell

Let’s be honest—if you’re a poet nowadays, your ambitions have to be kept modest. Yes, you might get paid to publish your work in a good magazine. You might sell many volumes of your work, read your poem aloud at the Olympic opening ceremonies, or maybe even win a literary award. But there sure isn’t going to be an internationally recognized holiday on your birthday.

That’s why the enduring influence of Robert (“Robbie”) Burns is so astounding. The Scottish poet, born in 1759, is about as famous as any bard—past or present—could ever hope to be. Over 250 official “Burns clubs” worldwide meet to honour his works as prime exemplars of the rich language and culture of Scotland. And Robbie Burns Day is celebrated on his birthday, January 25th—not just in Scotland, but all around the world.

Burns Night supper is a loose tradition (celebrated even by those without a drop of Scottish blood) that can range from a formal occasion with a bagpiper and solemn poetry readings, to a raucous dinner party fueled by whisky and song. No matter what, a haggis is always the centerpiece.

Burns’ poetry itself swings from the heavy to the light and erudite. And so does a good Burns Night supper. So after the haggis comes something that’s everything a haggis is not: fluffy, subtle, fresh. Enter the quintessential Scottish dessert called cranachan (pronounced KRAN-uh-can).

Cranachan, a traditional end to Burns supper, is a combination of three Scottish staples—oats, honey, and whisky—with raspberries and whipped cream. It’s simple and convivial and complete. So if you’re not keen on reading his “Address To a Haggis” aloud in a Scottish brogue, don’t worry. You can have yourself a little raspberries-and-cream poetry instead.


(Serves 4-5)


2 Tablespoons whole rolled oats

2 cups fresh raspberries + several more to garnish

2 Tablespoons sugar

1 ½ cups whipping cream

2 Tablespoons honey (preferably heather honey)

2 Tablespoons whisky


Add dry oats to a pan over medium heat and toast until very lightly browned, stirring constantly.

Roughly crush the 2 cups of raspberries (using a fork or potato masher) and add the sugar.

In a separate bowl, whip the cream until moderately stiff. Stir in the honey and whiskey. Add toasted oats.

Assemble in whiskey glasses: for each serving, start with a layer of raspberry puree, add a layer of cream on top, and repeat. Top with fresh raspberries.

Serve at room temperature.


Kristina Campbell is a freelance science writer specializing in the gut microbiota and digestive health.

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