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Happily, first impressions do not always prove to be the lasting impression–as this recipe convincingly demonstrates.
What caused me to give the recipe a second chance of impressing me was simply the need for some sort of biscuit or sweet treat that included brandy in it . . . We were doing the first Lord Peter Wimsey novel, Whose Body?, for Reading and Refreshments, and as anyone who has read the Wimsey novels knows, Lord Peter does love his brandy! So I had to make something that featured it, and brandy snaps seemed the most obvious choice.
Well. My first impression was wrong. Perhaps it was just that the original recipe I tried wasn’t a good one, or perhaps my tastes have matured over the years, but I absolutely adored these snaps with their brandy-spiked cream filling. As a matter of fact, I’ve already made them twice, and as I don’t often repeat new recipes, only old favourites, you know there must have been something exceptional about them.
So whether you are already a lover of brandy snaps, or whether you have been disappointed by them in the past, I strongly encourage you to give this version its chance to impress you.
The snaps are my submission to this month’s Alphabakes challenge, which is run jointly by Ros of The More Than Occasional Baker and Caroline of Caroline Makes. April’s letter was ‘B’, and Caroline is hosting.
Also, as I used gorgeous Guernsey cream from nearby Lacey’s Family Farm in my filling, I am submitting them to Elizabeth’s Kitchen Diary’s Shop Local challenge. If you live in the High Wycombe area, it really is worthwhile to pop into their farm shop to pick up some of this cream. It is lovely and, I don’t know, somehow much more satisfactory than the characterless stuff you’ll find in grocery stores.
For the cookies:
½ cup unsalted butter
½ cup caster sugar
⅓ cup dark treacle
¼ teaspoon ground ginger
½ teaspoon cinnamon
½ teaspoon lemon zest
1 cup + 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour, sifted
2 teaspoons brandy
For the brandy cream filling:
⅔ cup double cream
6 tablespoons icing sugar, sifted
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 tablespoons brandy
- Preheat the oven to 300°F/150°C.
- Place the butter, sugar, treacle, ginger, cinnamon, and lemon zest in a small saucepan. Put the pan over low heat until the butter is melted, stirring occasionally.
- Remove from the heat and whisk in the sifted flour and brandy. Let the batter cool for a few minutes.
- Drop heaping tablespoons of the batter onto an ungreased baking sheet, spacing them well apart (about 3 inches).
- Transfer to the oven and bake until the cookies are flat and bubbles have appeared on their surface, 12-15 minutes. The edges of the cookies should be set, but the middles will be quite soft.
- Take the cookies out of the oven and let them stand on the tray for 1 minute. Then use a thin metal spatula to remove the snaps from the tray, and carefully wrap them around the handle of a wooden spoon.
- If the snaps become too stiff to mold, put them back in the oven for 30 seconds to a minute in order to warm them up just enough to make them pliable again.
- Repeat this process with the remaining batter. As the snaps cool and become firm, gently slide them off the spoon handles (if you have several wooden spoons, use them all—it makes the process go much faster) and place them on a wire rack to finish cooling.
- Once all the snaps have been baked and cooled, make the filling. Whip the cream, either by hand or in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, until it starts to thicken.
- Add the sifted icing sugar, vanilla, and brandy, and continue to whisk until the cream holds a stiff peak.
- Transfer the cream to a piping bag fitted with a medium (#3) star tip.
- Pipe cream into both ends of each brandy snap, ending with a pretty swirl if you’re feeling ambitious.
- The filled cookies should be served that same day; but you can store unfilled brandy snaps in an airtight container at room temperature for a few days, and then prepare the cream and fill the snaps when you are ready to serve them.
Yield: Approximately 2 dozen brandy snaps