Brandy Snap Baskets with Orange Cream
This is the post where you get to hear about my holiday foray into candy making. But seriously – it’s candy making for dummies. Well, at least dummies like me who can be a little bit creative and flexible. I’m afraid of candy thermometers, so you don’t need one for this recipe. And actually – a brandy snap is really kind of a cross between a candy and a cookie.
It’s basically a warm, thin, ginger-spiced batter that spreads into a flat lacy round while baking and is then formed around a measuring cup (for baskets) or a wooden spoon handle (for cannoli-like rolls) while still warm. Then, once the rolls or baskets harden into a brittle shell, you can fill them with whipped cream, such as the orange-flavored version included below.
Don’t be afraid. You can do it, and people will be impressed.
Also, please note – this post is a little bit of a cop-out. I’m struggling a little bit with the whole new job/snowy commute thing, so I haven’t made many new recipes since I started back to work. And therefore I’m still sharing holiday recipes with you. But I have plans for this week. Big plans!
The Cookbook: Chocolates & Petits Fours by Beverley Sutherland Smith
This cookbook consists primarily of precious little chocolate cups and boxes filled with various creams and beautifully garnished with a perfect sprig of mint.
I know, I know. A superfluous purchase for someone who has minimal patience for fussy food preparation paired with a deep-seated candy thermometer phobia. As you might imagine, this is the first recipe I’ve prepared from said cookbook.
But, it’s all part of the game, right? It was on the shelf, so I had to find SOMETHING that didn’t scare the living daylights out of me. And Brandy Snaps it was.
The Recipe: Brandy Snap Baskets with Orange Cream
I selected the basket version of this cookie/candy because I don’t own a pastry or frosting bag, so couldn’t imagine myself trying to get whipped cream into rolls roughly the size of a wooden spoon handle.
By the way – the orange cream would be fabulous on the Classic Gingerbread Cake from a previous post.
A word of caution – allow plenty of time for this recipe, especially the first time around. I found that I could only handle two snaps per baking tray, because I wasn’t fast enough to mold more than that before they cooled too much. You can imagine how long this took, but it was the perfect activity for a lazy afternoon. And well worth the time in the end!
I recommend reading the entire recipe before you begin. That way you’ll be fully prepared, rather than scrambling around to find the perfect mold, like I was.
For the Brandy Snaps:
Preheat oven to 350.
Melt 1/3 cup butter in a small saucepan along with 3 TB light corn syrup and 1/3 cup firmly packed brown sugar, stirring occasionally. Add ½ tsp grated fresh ginger and 1 tsp ground ginger and stir to combine. Remove from heat.
Sift ½ cup all-purpose flour into a medium bowl. Mix the liquids into the flour and stir well to combine.
Here’s the place where flexibility comes in. First, decide how big you want your baskets to be, which will help you select your mold. The recipe suggests the bottom of a small teacup or measuring cup (in which case you’d use about 1 tsp batter for each basket). I felt these were too big, so I scrounged around in the utensil drawers and found a little wooden press I use for making pecan tassies. The base is just over an inch in diameter.
For this size, I only needed about ½ tsp batter per basket. These things REALLY spread as they bake.
And for the next round, I’m going to try to get them even smaller. They’re a little bit crumbly to eat, and I’d like for them to be a single-bite treat. I’m thinking about a trip to Home Depot to look for just the right size dowel base or something like that. I’ll let you know how that goes.
But anyway…using the proportions above (small measuring cup = 1 tsp batter; mini muffin tin base = ½ tsp batter), spoon the batter onto a greased baking sheet. Leave plenty of room, 2 inches or more, between rounds. I recommend only baking a couple for your first batch, so you can get comfortable with the molding process.
Place baking tray in preheated oven and bake 5 to 7 minutes until golden. The batter will spread, bubble and create a lacy effect.
Remove from oven and let cool on the tray for about 30 seconds or up to 1 minute, depending on the temperature of your kitchen. The goal here is to keep the snaps from stretching too much when you pick them up.
Use a spatula to lift one edge of a snap, pick it up with your fingers, and quickly drape it over your mold for about 2 seconds. Squeeze the sides gently to shape the basket. (Note – if you’re doing the rolls, drape the snap over a wooden spoon handle and pinch together to form a cannoli shape.) Remove from the mold and place on a cooling rack. Repeat with remaining snaps. You do need to move quickly here, since a cool snap will become brittle and you don’t be able to mold it. That’s why I could only bake two at a time!
Once cooled, you can store the brandy snaps in an airtight container at room temperature for 10 days or more. Fill them with your desired filling, such as Orange Cream (below) just before serving.
For the Orange Cream:
Whip 1 cup whipping cream in a small bowl until stiff peaks form. Add grated peel of one orange. Sift 2 TB powdered sugar over the top. Mix well to combine. Stir in 1 TB orange liqueur (OR 1 TB orange juice, OR 1 TB orange-infused brandy, created by soaking 1 tsp grated orange peel in 1 TB brandy for about 15 minutes). Chill 2 hours. Makes enough to fill 30 brandy snaps.
Experiment with your fillings. The whipped cream does become softer as it comes to room temperature, and tends to soak through the holes in the snaps just a little bit. Possibly because my snaps stretched out a little too much due to my inexperience. Chris tried freezing the filled snaps, which we thought was kind of fun – but only freeze for 15 minutes, or the snaps become soft.
And if you come up with any fabulous filling ideas, please do share!
Until next time,