Saturday, December 17, 2011

Brandy Snaps - burnt and not!

This is how a Brandy Snap should look!! Crispy, lacy and oozing with lovely whipped cream!! They are half way between being a sweet/candy and a biscuit/cookie - if you like crunchy caramelly things - you'll like Brandy Snaps! In my experience Brandy Snaps actually don't have any brandy in them and most of the recipes I came across also didn't so I went that way this time but if you want to buck this tradition you can add a spoonful or two of brandy to your whipped cream filling.

SO - making Brandy Snaps is a lot like making crepes or pancakes - you have to get the temperature and time right and chances are you may throw away the first couple of pancakes or batches of brandy snaps - you kind of have to get your hand in - so to speak. They are actually quite simple but at the same time tricky so don't despair if you have to try it out a couple of times before getting it right.
Always read your recipe all the way through first so you know what to expect. This recipe can be a finger burner so adult supervision is necessary with children.

I do suggest watching this video below first by Mary Berry, doyenne of baking in Blighty, - you'll see how they're made and also get some good tips.

INGREDIENTS: for about 10 snaps

 2oz/50g/ 1/2 stick butter

 2oz/50g sugar preferably brown

2oz honey/maple syrup/ golden syrup (if you have it available) - I used honey first and then maple syrup the next day - info for both is included below
1 teaspoon ground ginger (even more if you'd like - the recipe called for 1/2 a teaspoon but that didn't flavour the first batch at all so I went to 1 teaspoon in the second and will happily go to a teaspoon and a half for the next time I make them)

2oz/50g plain white flour

Grated zest of one lemon 

1/2 teaspoon lemon juice
1. Heat oven to 325F

2. In a heavy bottomed pan put the butter, sugar, lemon zest, ginger and syrup and melt gently until all is liquid.

3. Sift flour into hot liquid with the lemon juice and mix until smooth. 

4. Allow to cool a little until the consistency of the mix looks like that below - warm and chewy - (my first batch I used whilst still hot and liquid and you'll see the grim results of that a bit further down)
5. Put four largish sized teaspoonfuls full of the mixture per naked baking sheet - no parchment or greasing necessary - and I would only do one sheet at a time - you'll see why when you watch the video below - I started with 5 per sheet but I think 4 gives you a better chance to get your snaps rolled without too much panic.

6. Bob them in the oven and start watching like a hawk to see their progress after 5 minutes - you want a nicely spread pretty evenly browned disc - mine stayed a little lighter in the middle and they worked out OK - I found the honey ones cooked faster and more evenly - the maple syrup ones were different but had a much better taste.

Ha ha - so this below is the result of the first go around - the recipe said to have the oven at 425F and cook for 15 minutes on parchment - NO!!! - the picture below is after 7 minutes and the paper was burnt to the bottom.
So I tried again - brought the oven down to 325F and started looking in the oven after just 5 minutes...these looked so much better - the recipe for the picture below is with honey - it produced a larger sized, lacier snap but I wasn't thrilled with the flavour - the honey overpowered the caramel flavour so next day I tried the recipe with maple syrup and got very different results.
 Here's a video to show you what to do next - do watch before you start baking :) You can see how greasy this recipe becomes - be careful and don't burn your finger!!

These are the honey Brandy Snaps - they look great but the taste for me was only OK. Below is the first maple Snap - it didn't spread as much as the honey one's and had an odd sort of light coloured crust - hmmm - and it seemed to stay much hotter longer and got more crinkly crunchy faster and was harder to roll - but still - I preferred the taste and that's all that counts for me!!
and they looked more like little sausage rolls so.....
..with the third batch I turned the baked Snap disc over and rolled up the snap to be 'inside out' and the look was much better.......then I whipped up some cream - 4 fl oz/ 1/2 cup heavy/double cream with sugar to taste (and the brandy if you want it) - put it in a piping bag and then learned the best way to fill these little rolls so you get a good amount of whipped cream in there is to hold the snap vertically and sort of let the whipped cream fall out of the bag and down into the tube - if you hold the snap horizontally you can't get as much cream in there and really one always needs and wants more cream in there - doesn't one? - you should put cream in both ends of course!!
My absolute favourite way to have Brandy Snaps is to put the cream in and let them sit a few hours so the Snap starts to soften - it's still crunchy at the ends and toothy in the middle and then the cream squushes out - oh YES!!!! You can also add some chopped crystallized ginger to the whipped cream for a little more flavour - but it certainly doesn't need that!!

Look how differently how each batch came out - far left is the honey - better looking but not so tasty for me - next is the first maple batch good but a little ugly - second maple batch I didn't cook long enough and they were too soft - final batch of maple - nicely browned and I rolled them 'inside-out - upside-down' so they looked better and tasted great!

HAPPY BAKING - let me know how you do - Patricia
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