Latvia and Scotland have more in common than one at first might think. They both produce porridge oats, they produce wonderful dairy products, they grow scrumptious berries and they both produce very drinkable spirits. As everyone knows Scotland produces fantastic whisky, however not many people know that Latvia produces a lovely invigorating tipple known as Rigas Black Balsam.
I have pondered over the last few months what to do with my harvest of blackcurrants. At the moment they are just sat in my freezer waiting for me to be creative. It occurred to me that I could pay homnage to the Scottish dessert known as Cranachan. This a simple but delicious dessert comprising of raspberries, whisky, porridge oats and cream. My version replaces the raspberries with blackcurrants (didn’t grow any raspberries this year) and the whisky with Rigas Black Balsam. The great thing about this dessert is that it needs virtually no cooking and everything can be prepared in advance and put together just before serving.
So here goes:
- Blackcurrants and blackcurrant leaves if you have some
- Rigas Black Balsam
- Double Cream(UK) or 35% Fat cream (Latvia)
- large porridge oats
- vanilla essence (optional)
- At least 24 hrs before the dessert is needed remove stalks and wash the blackcurrants. Place in a bowl with the blackcurrant leaves and sprinkle with sugar. I suggest not to much at this stage as more can be added later if required. Pour over some Balsam. Again not too much as more can be added later. Cover the bowl with cling film and leave in the fridge. What we are trying to do hear is to create a syrup. Too little sugar and balsam not enough syrup, too much and you may have a syrup that just tastes of balsam. Give a good shake to nake sure the sugar is mixed in the balsam so it will dissolve. The blackcurrant leaves contain the blackcurrant oil which has lots of flavour.
- A few hours before serving taste the syrup. Add more sugar and balsam if required.
- In advance grill or dry pan fry your porridge oats until they turn a golden brown.
- Whip your cream to soft peaks adding a little sugar and vanilla essence if required.
- You are now ready to assemble your Cranachan. In a glass put a layer of whipped cream, followed by some blackcurrants and syrup, then a layer of the roasted oats. Repeat these layers once more and finally add another layer of cream and garnish with a few blackcurrant and a light sprinkling of oats. Serve immediately and enjoy.
Remember you are going to eat this so adapt to your taste. As you can see I have added redcurrants. You could add any berries you have. You could also add pieces of crispy meringue to change the texture. Happy experimenting.