A few years ago, somewhat on a whim/early 30’s crisis I decided to relocate to the UK. Prior to that decision, I’d never really considered moving there, I admittedly knew very little about it aside from the whole conquering the world, royal family, harry potter and pop music invasions over the years. When I moved, I was welcomed in and quickly found my footing as well as a host of new foods to try. I’d never had a Jaffa Cake or a Christmas Pudding or Mince Pie and my tea game was pretty weak at best. And one thing that I never saw, let alone even heard mentioned once was a Brandy Snap.
This past week on The Great Canadian Baking Show it was Best of Britain week and as a former temporary resident and forever fan of the Great British Bake Off, I was very curious as to what the challenges would be. Trifle seemed fair enough, although I was hoping it’d have been Eton Mess. The afternoon tea was pretty impressive and it got my mind churning out ideas of what I’d serve if I were to make my own attempt. But the technical challenge, the Brandy Snap was a mystery.
The name itself even sounds less like a baked good and more like a Batman supervillain. A red haired evil genius that is prone to fits of rage and wants to destroy Gotham. Either way, the judges on the show painted a fairly bleak picture of what was to come. They mentioned tears, burnt fingers, complete meltdowns. Brandy Snaps would indeed, quite possibly, destroy everything.
But much like Batman always prevails, so did I. It was quite therapeutic actually to make them. My first attempt was with molasses instead of the golden syrup that was called for and while they were quite a bit darker and definitely more flavourful, I enjoyed them! But I did go and get some syrup to follow the rules just to be safe.
The most difficult part I found, was the timing. It was quite relaxing to sit in front of the oven door, watching small puddles of thick sugary syrup start madly bubbling and growing, it was like a science experiment or volcano about to erupt. After 6 minutes (I found that this was the golden minute) I pulled them out, waiting exactly 1 minute and 45 seconds before wrapping them around anything that would fit to hold the shape. I used whisks, and ice cream scoop, an oatmeal stirrer. They all worked. After they cooled they almost looked a bit like dried coral, brittle but glossy.
Fill them up with brandy spiked whipped cream and you have a plate full of treats that look like you may have lost a fingerprint or two on a baking sheet but in reality, it was as easy as Batman driving the batmobile on an open road.
Here’s the recipe from CBC.ca
55 g butter
55 g demerara sugar
55 g golden corn syrup
50 g all purpose flour
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp lemon juice
240 g whipping cream
8 g skim milk powder
1 tsp Grand Marnier
2 tbsp powdered sugar
Preheat oven to 350°F. Line two baking trays with parchment.
Measure the butter, sugar and syrup into a small saucepan.
Heat gently over a low heat until the butter has melted and the sugar has dissolved, about 15 minutes. Don’t let the mixture boil.
Leave the mixture to cool slightly, about 2 – 3 minutes, then sieve in the flour and ginger. Pour in the lemon juice and mix thoroughly.
Drop 1 teaspoon of the mixture per cookie onto the prepared baking trays and spread to make a small circle. Bake no more than 3 cookies at a time, about 10 cm apart.
Bake 7 – 9 minutes, or until the mixture is spread out, lacey and a deep golden colour. If underbaked, the biscuits will not hold their shape; if overbaked, they will crack when you try to roll them.
Working quickly, remove the circles from the pan one at a time, using a small offset spatula. Place cookie upside down, then gently roll the warm cookie around the handle of a wooden spoon. Lightly press where the cookie overlaps to keep the roll together. Slide the cookie off the spoon and leave it to firm up (joint side down) on the wire rack. Let cool on rack. Repeat until you have enough cookies to fill.
If the mixture in the sauce pan becomes too firm, warm it up by rolling a teaspoonful into a small smooth ball in your hands, then place on the baking tray and flatten slightly with your fingers.
Make the cream filling: whip cream with 2 tbsp of powdered sugar to stiff peaks. Fold in Grand Marnier.
Pipe into each brandy snap.