12 September 2011

Brandy Snaps

Brandy Snap's - they are an absolute classic and I truly believe they are a great last minute dessert to master that can be whipped up faster than any other cookie with only one dirty saucepan, a lazy bakers dream :) They can be customised to your hearts desire and, although it admittedly took me pretty much until my last batch to perfect the method, now I know the tricks they really are soooooo very easy to make. We ate them ALL the day I made them, so I made another batch the morning after as we are greedy Welshies and second time round, now I knew what I was doing, resulted in 15 uniform tubes (much better than my first go which resulted in 3 pretty ones, 4 passable ones, 3 slightly fat rejects, 1 pretty cup, 1 reject cup and 3 that we just should talk about) 
In all seriousness, if you have shied away from trying them before now I assure you, they are so much fun and you can definitely make these!

Oh yes, and they are SO VERY ADDICTIVE :)

Check out how simple the quantities of ingredients are too, once you have memorised the few basic components all you really need to remember is its equal parts of them all (plus the customisable added extras), so you can easily scale up or down the recipe as you wish

One thing people might be surprised about is that the recipe I used (Mary Berry's as seen on The Great British Bake Off - great show) and quite a few others don't actually contain brandy...odd hey! I did a bit of research and apparently its not a compulsory addition to the traditional snaps, in fact the flavour of the alcohol is often lost in the cooking process so, if at all, the brandy is best added as a flavouring to the whipped cream filling. 
Another brandy snap fact for you (just churning out the trivia today!) is that the original brandy snaps were the flattened crisps, uncurled as it were, and the tubes as you can see in my photos were actually called 'jumbles'. Over time brandy snap became a general term I believe and the word jumble got lost in cookie history

The top 2 pictures below show how the mixture is near the beginning of baking, you can spoon the liquidy batter onto the sheets and they spread a little themselves. The bottom 2 photos show what can happen if the mix cools before all the batches are complete, if this happens you can easily roll balls of the mix in your hands and flatten them slightly before baking
Top left below - testing out just greasing the sheets, trust me, USE BAKING PARCHMENT!
Top right below, me sneakily snapping a photo of my mum happily disposing of my disaster batch
Bottom right - using an upturned cupcake tin to make a brandy snap basket - perfect for serving icecream!
The way I found easiest to roll the snaps. Click to view the photos in a separate screen, then I think you can click again to enlarge further

And here is the recipe :) The method itself is really short but I have included quite a few notes as they can take one or so batches to get to grips with, and I'd rather share all the (hopefully useful!) tips I learnt the hard way to make your experience as smooth as possible. At the end of the recipe there are a few filling ideas to jazz up these already lovely snaps into a rather impressive little treat, and also a couple of links to brandy snap recipes I've seen elsewhere on the big old web-world

Brandy Snaps
Makes 15

50g butter
50g demerara sugar [1]
50g golden syrup [2]
50g all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp lemon juice (or zest of 1/3 lemon)
1 1/2 tsp Brandy (optional - did not use)

Preheat the oven to 180C/350F and line baking sheets with baking parchment [3]
Heat the butter, sugar and syrup in a small saucepan over medium-low heat until the butter has melted and the sugar dissolved [4]
Remove from heat and let cool for a few minutes
Sieve in the flour and ginger, add the lemon (and brandy if using) and mix thoroughly
Do 3-4 snaps at a time. Drop batter by the teaspoonful onto the sheets. Leave at least 10cm between snaps. If the mixture in the pan cools and thickens, you can roll it into smooth balls in your hands then flatten them slightly on the sheet
Bake for 8-10 minutes until spread out to a thin lacy biscuit and deep golden brown
Let firm on the sheets for 1-2 minutes until you can begin to pull up one side without it stretching. Lift up the snap using a palette knife and quickly roll it around a wooden spoon/metal utensil handle with the lacy side out. Press the overlap down to seal, slide off when relatively firm and let cool completely on a wire rack [5]
If the snaps on the sheet become too hard to roll pop them back in the oven for a few seconds to soften
Let cool completely and put in an airtight container as soon as possible. I stored in a tin with tissue paper to absorb any moisture (they can go a bit soft/chewy otherwise)
If filling do so just before serving

To Finish
  • Dip one end in melted chocolate and roll/sprinkle with chopped nuts (recommend dark chocolate and pistachios)
  • Filling: Whip 150ml heavy cream until thick with any of the following optional extras. Pipe into the brandy snaps

Optional add-ins:
1/2tsp vanilla extract and 50g Nutella
1 Tbsp brandy
orange blossom water, to taste
2 Tbsp coffee dissolved in 2 Tbsp hot milk (with or without 1 Tbsp brandy)

[1] Demerara sugar is a coarse unrefined brown sugar. You can use a finer grained brown sugar or caster sugar also, the latter will produce a lighter coloured and less caramel flavoured snap
[2] Please for the love of all things holy use golden syrup in this recipe! If you have never used it before you don't know what you are missing. Find some, buy some, never look back. You could substitute molasses which would produce a much deeper flavour, or corn syrup if you absolutely had to
[3] Greaseproof paper will not work, I also tried just greasing the sheets on one batch and lets just say results were not pretty..
[4] Upto 15 minutes for demerara sugar and much faster for finer sugars (under 5 minutes) To check if the sugar is dissolved pull the spoon across the bottom of the pan, there should be no gritty granules visible or any scraping audible
[5] I found what worked for me in the end was to lift up one edge of the snap, put the wooden handle underneath it, hold it to the handle and in a fluid motion lift/roll the snap off the sheet. 
To make brandy snap baskets simply drape the cookie over a suitable sized form, ie a jam jar, can, drinking glass, orange for a big basket, or the underneath of a muffin tin for a smaller basket

The Pioneer Woman - uses brandy, brown sugar and molasses instead of golden syrup
Syllabub - an incredible write up all about the background, history and basically annnyttthing you would want to know about these treats. Uses Grand Marnier and black pepper instead of lemon/brandy and ginger
Kimba's Kitchen - pretty similar to this one
Historical Foods - SO MUCH BUTTER. Apparently this is the traditional Brandy Snap as they were originally, the large quantity of butter means they taste more toffee-like and are holier as the increased moisture content from the fat evaporates in the oven

       Printable Sugar Fix

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