cranachan – a perfect Slimming World dessert that totally isn’t overnight oats

Cranachan? Yes, that’s right, it sounds like something you’d rub on an irritated cha-cha but it’s not! It’s lovely. But first: nonsense.

In what I’m sure is karma for eating naughty synned things, I’ve just knocked an entire Sherbet Fountain across my glass desk, into my keyboard, into my mouse, onto my monitor – great! Everything is going to be sticky and covered in white streaks for months now – or well, until the cleaner comes. She’s going to think I’ve got one hell of a coke problem although Christ, she ought to know better – she’s ironed enough of my X²L shirts to know my body isn’t being ravaged by drugs. I expect the cat will be along later to sample the spillage and I’ll find her off her tits rolling around showing her minnie off to the neighbours. What fun we have.

Anyway, that’s a completely unrelated opening to what I’m going to talk about today, which is Scotland. Why? Because tonight’s dish is a bastardisation of a Scottish dessert which no doubt I’ll have some incoherent feisty Scot bellowing at me about and, more simply, I bloody love Scotland. If Paul and I could live anywhere in the world we’ve both agreed it would be Glasgow – Edinburgh is lovely, but I like a shade more menace when I’m ordering a crème de menthe in a social club. The accent is amazing – and that’s coming from a Geordie – everything sounds slightly angry and inquisitive but every single insult is hilarious. Even as simple as calling something mince – we have shite, but mince is perfect.

The landscape is beautiful – I love the fact you can trot anywhere in any direction and within an hour be somewhere completely different, not only in location but also feel, sound and sight. I’ve never had a disappointing trip up North and when we drive past the sign welcoming us to Scotland I’m always cheered, not least because I’m usually busting for a piss at this point and I know there’s a shitter in Jedburgh. Most of our holidays were in Scotland as a child, wild camping around the coast and enjoying many a summer having the first two layers of my skin chewed off by midges. Don’t get me wrong, we’ve got midges down here and they’re a mild annoyance, but in Scotland they’re armed with knives. I remember my parents optimistically scanning their camping guidebook and selecting what sounded like a charming place somewhere near Glencoe. When we turned up, announced in advance as always by the spluttering engine of our car and the blue smoke pouring from both the exhaust and my parents nostrils, the place was an absolute dump. Literally, a dump: there were abandoned cars, old fridges, massive mud piles, the works. It was exactly the place where you just knew the car of the family who had arrived before you would be ablaze in a woods nearby with their skins hanging up in the owner’s living room. You could have crashed a plane into this campsite and improved it. Naturally, my dad dickered about the price for a bit and was all ready to set the tent up when my mum put her foot down and demanded we leave.

You know the worst thing? I’m fairly sure the place was called Red Squirrel and when I look at it now online, it looks bloody idyllic. Harumph. But anyway, enough reminiscing, I promised Paul this would be a super-quick post as he wants me to ped-egg his feet. We bought one of those fancy motorised versions so I’m fully expected to be diagnosed with popcorn lung from inhaling the microdust of his shaved feet for an hour.

Oh: as a final thought – we’ve never met a Scottish gay who hasn’t been hung like God was trying to give him a third leg and ran out of time before he put the foot on. I’m just saying. Is it something in the water? Goodness me!

So yes: cranachan. This Scottish dessert is usually made with double cream whipped thick, but alas, I reckon if I put that into a recipe it’ll be the very thing that tipped poor Mags back onto three bottles of Taboo a day. So – forgive me Scotland, I know not what I do – I’ve replaced it with Greek yoghurt. The rest of the ingredients remain though – whisky, honey, oats and raspberries. It’s like a fancy overnight oats recipe – one you might whirl out if you were trying to persuade your husband to give you a bit of the other. You could leave the whisky out, but it really is a key part of this, and it doesn’t overpower the dish so it’s absolutely worth doing. Up to you how you want to portion this out – up the oats, reduce the greek yoghurt, add more raspberries, or throw it all in the bin and have yet another Vienetta. I don’t mind! I saw cranachan on Come Dine With Me a while back and made a note to find a recipe – it’s thank to Caroline at Caroline’s Cooking for the inspiration. Let’s do this then – this makes enough for one big glass as shown below – scale up or down if you are making more or eating your dinner from a dustbin lid.

cranachan

to make cranachan, you’ll need:

  • 40g of oats – the better quality the better but you can just use normal porridge oats if you like
  • a big handful of fresh raspberries
  • 100ml of thick Greek yoghurt – but make sure it is 0% fat and syn free (or as low as possible)
  • a teaspoon of honey (1 syn)
  • 25ml of whisky (3 syns)

We’re not massive whisky drinkers here at Cubs Towers so we just bought a tiny bottle of Haig Club, which I now know is David Beckham’s brand. I mean, how embarrassing. Now, there’s no easy way for me to link to Amazon in tonight’s post, so why don’t you just buy my new book instead? I promise it’ll make you laugh at least once. Promise.

to make cranachan, you should:

  • toast off your oats in a pan – they don’t brown, but you want them heated through so they smell nutty
  • crush your raspberries lightly with a fork – don’t mash them, whatever you do, god no – so that the juice runs a little
  • combine your yoghurt, oats, honey, whisky, raspberries and honey in a glass and stir, or if you prefer, layer it all in all fancy like
  • serve with a couple of raspberries on the top and some of the oats
  • lovely!

This was a lovely, filling, unusual dessert that is easily customisable to your tastes. It’s overnight oats but a bit more grown up and we loved it!

Looking for more dessert, drinks or snacks ideas? Click the buttons!

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J

rainbow peppermint meringues – taster night idea

Was it the mention of my rainbow peppermint meringues that brought you here? You’ll find them just below. But first, a word from old Gobshite McGee – me.

Oh, before we start, I haven’t put a plug in for our books for bloody ages. We have two! One is a full recount of our month long honeymoon in Florida so many moons ago and be found by clicking here – the other book is a massive, giant collection of all of our articles from the blog and can be found by clicking here. If you’ve read them and enjoyed them, I’ll dance at your wedding if you leave me a lovely review. Already married? Then unprotected anal it is.

Here’s an odd thing. There seems to be a rash of people posting pictures of themselves in dresses on facebook and then asking total strangers how they look, only with the caveat of ‘no nasty comments’ but ‘honest replies please’. How does that work? For a start, don’t ask strangers how you look because frankly, there’s too many arseholes out there who will be cruel just for the sake of it. But, if you are going to seek the validation of strangers you’ll never meet then at least be prepared to accept that some people will have different opinions and that they aren’t the Devil Incarnate for saying your dress is a bit tight under the gunt.

Personally, I couldn’t give a flying toss what people think I look like – I described my own body as looking like a landslide of hairy Trex just the other day – and it’s a very liberating place to be. I spent years hidden behind a giant black coat like the Scottish fucking Widow when I was younger because I was ashamed of my man-boobs and having to buy my school clothes from the adult section in BHS. But life’s too short to care – no-one ever, in the throes of death, turns to their loved one and says ‘yes, but Suzanne from Warrington thought I looked fab-hun-xox in my Primark bikini‘, after all.

That said, I did have a rather mortifying moment the other night when Paul, in his haste to get all of our holidays photos on Facebook, accidentally uploaded a completely nude photo of me getting into an outside bath in Cornwall which sat in our photo albums before the sound of retching from all around the North East finally reached us and I hastily deleted it. Not because I’m ashamed as such but really, I could do without my friends and co-workers knowing that my arse-cheeks look like someone stood on a pumpkin and rolled it in cat-hair.

Not that such privacy is everyone’s concern, though. I had to remove a couple of distant friends from my facebook because every nuance of their tedious lives was played out via passive aggressive memes, hospital check-ins and barely legible statuses about ‘standin on mi one agin’. The hospital check-in is the most baffling – big status about waiting in A&E or ‘PRAY FOR MY LITTLE MONIQUA-MARIELEIGH’ then, when people invariably comment asking what’s wrong (whts up hun??) they are either ignored or worse, the old ‘inbox uz hun‘. I hate it – mostly because it’s just attention-seeking, but also because I’m incredibly nosy and not finding out leaves me massively unsatisfied, like being interrupted by someone coming home unexpectedly just as you reach Batter Splatter Point. One for the gentlemen, that.

God, I miss the heady days of logging in and out of ICQ (3536698204, oh yes*) to get someone to notice you, or changing the MSN Messenger tagline to some kind of meaningful lyric to really show you meant business. Such innocent times indeed.

Anyway, enough reminiscing. I wanted to do something with a rainbow theme as it’s Gay Pride month and well, after my post last week was followed up by the absolutely awful events in Orlando, I thought it might be a nice idea. So many lives lost because some knobhead couldn’t handle the fact he liked a bit of cock. Great work, you callous shitbag. I hope the 72 virgins waiting for you are all rough, hairy powertops with vein-canes like those snake draught excluders nanas used to put under the door.

Actually, you know, it’s shit like that that reinforces what I was saying about not caring what others think of you – life’s too bloody short. You never know what’s coming round the corner.

OK. I have no idea how to segue onto my recipe here so let’s literally draw a line under this post.


There we go. Right, I’ve used this rainbow painting thing before to make macarons and they looked amazing, but saying as Margaret Elnett doesn’t like us having flour, I thought I’d swap it for the lighter meringue. Also, when I took a moment to look into making ‘lighter’ meringues I happened across a very unusual substitute for egg whites that I just had to try out – chickpea water! You know when you buy a tin of chickpeas from the supermarket and all the chickpeas are sitting in that weird pre-cummy chickpea water? Don’t slosh it down the drain – oh no – use it for this recipe!

Of course, if you wanted to, you can use egg whites. Also, I have a feeling that these could be made with Stevia or whatever that fine granulated sugar is and therefore possibly syn-free, but fuck that. If you’re reading this thinking OH MY GOD I COULD USE SWEETENER well, take yourself to the foot of the stairs because that won’t bloody work. They come out looking like loft insulation and taste like anus. Use your bloody syns – so much better to have a little bit of something good than it is to have a tonne of something disgusting. Not that some people take that on board given the amount of ONE-SYN LEMON MERINGUES I see that look like something I’d use to scrub the grout in the shower with. Anyway, sssh. The original recipe for the chickpea meringues came from another blog, right here, so credit to them!

rainbow peppermint meringues rainbow peppermint meringues

to make rainbow peppermint meringues, you’ll need:

  • 125ml of chickpea pre-cum (i.e. the water from the chickpea tin) (real name for this stuff is aquafaba, fact fans!) or the whites of three large eggs
  • 6 tablespoons of caster sugar (18 syns)
  • a teaspoon of lemon juice
  • a pinch of salt
  • a few drops of peppermint essence, but don’t go mad
  • food dyes (see my note below)
  • an icing bag or a strong sandwich bag
  • two trays with greaseproof paper cut to fit

This recipe makes around 40 little meringues so for the sake of argument, we’ll say that each meringue is half a syn each.

A couple of notes:

  • I didn’t actually use peppermint essence – I used two drops of rhubarb and two drops of custard flavouring that I had from my cupcake days – feel free to experiment but don’t add too much extra liquid in
  • this won’t work with liquid dyes, they’ll all run – you need gels. You can buy these from supermarkets but I buy mine online right here – they are used for colouring massive amounts of icing and are very strong – use sparingly!
  • you can use a hand mixer or a stand mixer (this is the beast we have – fancy, right?)

to make rainbow peppermint meringues, you should:

  • preheat the oven to 100 degrees celsius – you’re cooking low and slow
  • get a decent bowl out of the cupboard or your mixing bowl ready – make sure the bowl is absolutely spotless, dry and grease-free – if you’re not sure, cut a lemon in half and run it around the inside of the bowl before giving it a good dry – the meringue will not form if there’s even a speck of grease or wet on there
  • tip in the chickpea water / egg whites, pinch of salt, lemon juice and whatever flavour you want and start mixing until it starts looking foamy
  • add half the sugar and keep mixing until soft peaks form
  • add the rest of the sugar and keep mixing – it will take a while but eventually you’ll be left with thick, glossy white peaks that stay put even when you remove the mixers
  • the old trick is to hold the bowl upside down above your head which is fine if you want anyone passing to think you’re a bellend
  • put the bowl to one side and concentrate
  • before you start with the colours, get your trays, put a dab of meringue between each corner of the greaseproof paper and the tray just to hold them in place whilst they cook
  • get a large glass or something to hold your icing bag (because we’re careless with money and buy any old tat, we actually have an icing bag holder – right here – take a look so you know what I mean) – you want to make it so you can paint the inside with dye and then tip the icing in, so anything that will hold the bag open will do
  • using something like a long piece of uncooked spaghetti, dip into the different food dyes and paint a stripe of dye up the inside of the bag – not a massive stripe, just a thin stripe – then repeat with whatever colours you want to use, leaving space between the stripes
  • DON’T WORRY – it’ll look crap at this point, but the finished effect is great, just make sure the stripes are spread out and go as far into the bottom as you can
  • gently fill the icing bag with the meringue then lift out, cut the very tip off the bottom of the bag, twist the tip to stop it leaking out and to push the meringue down the bag
  • gently squeeze the meringue out – onto the trays in small, gentle dollops – finish each with a little flick of the wrist to get the peak, and remember to leave a bit of space between them, though they don’t need much
  • pop in the oven for an hour or so then after an hour, unless they are soft to the touch and need longer, just turn the oven off and leave them in there until they’re completely cool

Serve!

Listen, that recipe sounds complicated but it’s an absolute doddle – the key is to paint stripes on the inside of the icing bag (or sandwich bag, whichever you’re using), cut a tiny bit off the bottom and pipe. You’ll cock up a couple of them, so what? Don’t go too mad with the colour though – discreet swirls look better than a psychedelic pigeon shit splattered on a tray.

You can either save these for yourself (tasty!) or take them along to taster night and make poor Sandra from Warrington look ashen-faced as she puts her Slimming World quiche down next to your wonder!

For more taster or dessert ideas, click the icons below!

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Enjoy,

J

* not my ICQ number, so if ICQ is even still a thing, don’t be messaging some poor bloke in Utah asking how many syns are in a Hartley’s Jelly Pot. He won’t have a fucking clue!

low syn chocolate mousse

desserts! The tricky stage of any meal on a diet. Normally, Paul and I would keep it restrained, with maybe just a tub of Ben & Jerry’s each to slobber down as we shriek our way through some reality TV in our knickers. 500g of B&J Cherry Garcia is 37 and a half syns, which actually, isn’t TOO bad if you’re craving a massive sweet treat. But this low syn chocolate mousse also hits the spot.

Now, I’ve had a bad day today – full of sweets, and I was given my flu jab yesterday by someone who I’m not entirely convinced wasn’t Harold Shipman and who might as well have used a fucking bayonet, so my arm hurts. Paul however came to the rescue and made me chocolate mousse Slimming World style. I’ve marked it as 4 syns for the lot but it’s not even really that, as the recipe makes four servings with one option and a bit of cream, so you could fudge the numbers and go for 2 syns. But then, why cheat yourself when you can treat yourself? Christ, I just vommed.

to make low syn chocolate mousse, then:

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Two easy treats! If you’re being very good, the jelly is the way forward, and so easy to make. We buy bags and bags of the frozen fruits from Sainsburys – it’s a great way of upping your superfree for an easy finish! The chocolate mousse is equally as easy. You don’t need to fanny about putting it in a piping bag, but I think Paul wanted to use my fancy piping bag stand from Lakeland. Any excuse to ratch about in my baking cupboard! With thanks to Emma on the comments, the jelly is actually 1.5 syns a sachet, but divided between four pots means less than half a syn a jelly – so go for it!

Final question – does anyone know why cats go so mental if you place a strand of cooked spaghetti on their backs? Sola goes tearing around the house like she’s in riding around a wall of death. Mind, we’re having a bit of bother with both cats – Bowser keeps trying to get his end away but we cut off his space-hoppers when he was young, and Sola is having nothing of it and insists on trying to claw his eyes. But then we found them both snuggled up in an old shoebox this morning without a care in the world. They’re the Trevor and Little Mo of our street.

Anyway! Enjoy.

J