How to make brandy snaps
These biscuits (cookies) are laden with sugar, and it is the high percentage of sugar to ratio of flour they have, the sugar melting and spreading thin, which gives them their characteristic honeycomb-lace appearance. The thinner they are the more delicate and crumbly they become and for me a superior texture to a thick version of them. They should be strong enough to hold a filling but as soon as you put them in your mouth their frailness breaks into little pieces.
Snap recipes vary but often they have an equal amount of butter/sugar/syrup/flour, and flavourings can be added, brandy, citrus, ginger.
These I made for my Marmalade Snaps with Pumpkin Cream recipe, the little pieces you see are the peel from the marmalade.
It’s easy to make the mixture, the fiddly part is when shaping them into cylinders large enough to hold a filling.
It is easier to shape them into a tight cigar cylinder, they can be quickly rolled around the end of a wooden spoon. If making basket shapes again they can be quickly put over an upside-down mini pudding basin. They are also very pretty if you make mini flat ones and stack them with cream in-between, creating a mille-feuille effect.
Too much flour
If the mixture has too much flour to ratio of sugar it will produce a thicker snap like the one below, it’s easier to mould and holds its shape quicker but it’s not the fine shatterable snap, it becomes a brittle.
The fine texture of the snap should be covered with uneven holes and transparent near-holes.
Add butter, sugar, syrup (or marmalade) and heat them until the sugar has completely melted.
Take pan off the heat and add flour.
Sieving the flour
It’s worth sieving the flour. I didn’t once due to my lazy disposition and as a result I was left with a lumpy mixture which no amount of whisking would un-lump. The result was thickening the mixture too much because of my vigorous whisking over the heat. This thicker batter made thick snaps.
Stir the flour well until you have a smooth mixture. Add the brandy and/or lemon juice and ground ginger if using.
Because the mixture cools down quickly and starts to stiffen making it difficult to drop onto the baking paper, keep the pan inside a bowl filled with boiling water from the kettle in order to maintain the mixture liquid.
Start with two
If making the large cylinders, start out by only putting two snaps per baking sheet and don’t put any more than that in oven. As you get further into it and more confident with the rolling add three snaps per baking sheet.
If making the small size ones four per sheet will fit but have to be spread out.
The right colour
Having such a high percentage of sugar means snaps are very good from going a pale blond colour to suddenly becoming very dark, this can happen within 20-30 seconds in the oven.
In an ideal world they are best in terms of flavour and I think attractiveness when they are an in-between blond-tanned colour.
If they stay on the baking tray they will take longer to cool down…
….and obviously if removed from the hot baking sheet they will cool down quickly.
As soon as you can pick them up, which might be within 15-30 seconds after coming out of the oven, pick them by the edge and fold them around the handle of a wooden spoon.
The spoon handle will be smaller than the circumference of the snap if making the large cylinder shape to be filled with cream. The spoon handle is there to sit on top of the joint of the snap making it stick together and to give you an idea of shaping.
When they are fragile like the ones in the photo below, while shaping them they will slightly collapse on themselves because they are still warm. The thing to do is to re-shape them using your fingers and hold that shape and count to 5 or so, they will cool enough and set.
Once they are set they can be placed on paper towels allowing for any excess grease to be absorbed and letting them cool completely.
- 75g butter
- 75g sugar
- 65g syrup (golden syrup)
- 75g plain flour *
- pinch of salt
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- 2 tablespoons of brandy
- ½ teaspoon lemon/orange zest
- or 1 tsp ground ginger
- or ½ tsp fresh ginger grated
- Add butter, sugar, syrup (or marmalade) and heat them until the sugar has completely melted. Take pan off the heat and add flour. Stir the flour well until you have a smooth mixture. Add the brandy and/or lemon juice and ground ginger if using. Keep the pan in a bain-marie to keep the mixture liquid.
- Drop a teaspoon on to baking paper (not greaseproof paper), leave plenty of room and drop a second teaspoon for small size, two teaspoons for larger ones. Bake in a pre-heated oven until the are the right colour, light caramel colour.
- The first two are the test ones, where you find out how long it takes to bake in your oven. Don't have the oven too hot otherwise they will burn around the edges before the middle is ready. Towards the end of baking turn the baking sheet around for a better even baking, though there will always be hot spots.