Saturday, June 18, 2011

Brandy Snaps

I recently was remembering my time working in the kitchen at The Herbfarm Restaurant. I assembled salads, blanched green beans, made chocolate truffles, peeled fava beans, made mussel skewers, and helped out with a lot of other random tasks. But one routine job of mine was making ice cream cones. The cones were made from brandy snaps, which had to be rolled around cones while they were still hot out of the oven to shape them. They were then placed in a paper cone wrapper to keep the ice cream from leaking out the holes in the lacy cookie.

I decided to try making brandy snaps* again, even though I had forgotten the recipe. They traditionally use golden syrup, a sugar syrup produced in the process of refining sugar, kind of like a pale version of molasses. Honey could be substituted, though the cookies might be a little different.

Since I do not happen to have little metal cones sitting around my house, I decided to make these cookies into baskets, which are a good size for holding ice cream or another dessert (see upcoming rhubarb "tart" or previous lemony-herb ice cream). While ramekins work fine for shaping these baskets, I actually prefer the big end of a beer bottle, because they are a bit smaller.

One thing to watch out for is humidity. These cookies will only stay crisp for a few hours in humid climates unless they are kept in an airtight box. If your home is very humid, it is really best to make them soon before serving.

Depending on what you are serving these with, or on what you are in the mood for, play with the spices or substitute a different liquor for the brandy--who says brandy snaps have to contain brandy anyway?

If you aren't making these as part of a bigger dessert, trying rolling them into cigars or just keeping them flat. They make a great snacking cookies.

*See Lemony-Herb Ice Cream for a picture of a brandy snap. I forgot to take pictures of them alone--sorry!

Brandy Snaps

1/4 cup unsalted butter
3 tablespoons sugar
3 tablespoons golden syrup (or honey)
1/4 cup flour
a pinch of salt
flavorings: 1/4 teaspoon ginger, 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon, 1/4 teaspoon lemon zest, 1 teaspoon vanilla
1 tablespoon brandy

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Get a few empty beer bottles, small ramekins, or little cups out for molds, placing them upside down on a flat surface.

In a small saucepan, heat the butter, sugar, and golden syrup. Let them simmer together for a couple minutes, then remove from the heat and quickly stir in the rest of the ingredients with a wooden spoon. When the batter is smooth, let it cool for 15 minutes.

Line two baking sheets with parchment paper. Place spoonfuls of the batter on the baking sheets, making sure they are very spread apart. There should be about 4 per sheet, though it can vary some. Bake one sheet at a time for 10 minutes, or until the cookies are spread out and golden brown. Let them cool on a rack for one minute.

Using your hands or a thin spatula, lift the hot cookies off the paper and place them on the upside down beer bottles. If you want, push the cookie farther toward the bottle to make a more upright cup. Let them cool there for 5 to 10 minutes, or until they hold their shape on their own. Repeat the baking and molding with the other sheet of cookies.

When they are cool, place them in an airtight container lined with parchment paper until you are ready to serve.

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