I’m taking no shame in nicking another great recipe from my mum’s battered old cookbook from 40 years ago! I love brandy snaps with chantilly cream at Christmas, and my dad used to adore them when he was around. So I’m reliving my youth with this recipe!
How cute is this cook book my mum has put together? There was a weights conversion table on a later page, so I figured she wrote this during the great decimalisation of around 1985 or earlier. So possibly 30 years old! The scabby, tattered pages add credence to this guess, and the fact my mum ‘hasn’t got a clue’ how old it is (and my mum doesn’t forget anything!) means it’s got many years on it. Now I’m internetting it, so it’ll forever be kept in the world! (That’s my polite justification for blatantly nicking my mum’s recipes for my own bloggy purposes. Thanks mum!)
I’ll ‘fess up from the get go – the cream in the pictures is NOT chantilly cream as I intended it! It was an orange-laced whipped cream. Tasted delicious to start with! Then curdled to a disgusting mess! So I’ve had to pick my most cunning photos to try and hide this sorry fact! (You can see a few rogue spots of milk separating at the bottom. 🙁 )
I love how brandy snaps are basically just ginger sugar, but the simple act of curling them up into a tube creates this endless tunnel of possibilities. It’s thinking smart about food. Taking something delicious and crispy, manipulating it while it is setting, and creating a ventricle for every cream, foam, mousse, sauce, or whatever that you can shake a stick at.
My mum hates cream, so our adventures with fillings simply went as far as squirty cream and melted chocolate. But as a kid, that was such a treat! I mean… I’d have actually scolded you for suggesting an orange zest chantilly cream, or a praline mousse, or a pistachio butter to go with my brandy snaps. CHOCOLATE AND SQUIRTY CREAM PLEASE MR, SIR.
Although just now I’m SERIOUSLY feeling a peanut butter jelly brandy snap… That’d have been a treat as a nipper!
So why are these guys called brandy snaps despite containing no brandy? Well… I think they’re meant to contain brandy. But mine don’t, so they’re nice and friendly to everyone who doesn’t fancy the boozy edge. But yes, this means I’m a big fat liar when it comes to the naming of these.
I made these last night and me and my mum had a little time to enjoy them while remembering my pa. Good memories! I hope you enjoy them as well! Courtesy of Mummy Why Chef!
Brandy Snaps with Orange Mousse
- 100 g Butter (unsalted softened)
- 100 g Demerara sugar
- 100 g Golden syrup
- 100 g Plain flour
- 1 tsp Ground ginger
- 200 ml Double cream
- 25 g Caster sugar
- Seeds from 1 vanilla pod optional
- Pre heat the oven to 180/350/gas 4
- Gently heat the butter, demerara sugar, and golden syrup in a saucepan until the sugar and butter dissolve. Do not hard boil as this could burn
- Cool slightly then add the flour and ginger. Beat well. This should make a thick, smooth batter
- Keep beating until all the small pockets of flour are gone (physically pop them with a fork if needed)
- Place a teaspoon of mixture onto a baking sheet or silicone mat, and flatten with the back of a spoon to make thin flat discs, approx 2mm thick. Don't try too hard at this step - the batter will melt and join up all the edges and lulls, plus the batter is extremely sticky making it nigh on impossible to do evenly anyway
- Continue with the rest of the mixture across the baking sheet. Use a second baking sheet/silicone mat if needed
- Put the sheet on a baking tray and bake in the oven for 10 minutes
- Remove from the oven, and while hot mould the snaps around a wooden spoon (or any thin cylinders you can find) to form the tube shape (be careful as the discs will be very hot). Eventually the discs will cool enough so that you can do this safely by hand, which speeds up the process greatly
- If the snaps become too cool and brittle before you've finished wrapping them into tubes, return to the oven for 30 seconds
- Leave snaps to cool completely until hard and glass-like
- Whip the double cream until stiff peaks form
- Fold in the caster sugar, and vanilla seeds if using, slowly until incorporated
- Pipe into the tubes and serve immediately
Now the Why’s here I’m actually not so sure about (I’m not much of a baker, me). So some of this I’m figuring out as I type…
Why do they go from the thick viscous batter, to soft and bubbly flats, to very brittle deliciousness? What I think is happening to begin with is we’re essentially making a thick roux but with tons of sugar. The flour certainly takes the sweet edge of the sugar and golden syrup, but so will numerous other ingredients if that is all we’re using it for.
Just heating sugar and golden syrup will make rock hard crystal sugar. Maybe the flour is forming bonds with the sugar which are softer, but still brittle enough to snap? If I had more time I’d experiment with this by adding far more flour and then far less. More flour should mean softer snaps, less should make them even more brittle. Possibly.
In the oven we’re heating the sugar in the mixture to above 160C, which is the temperature the sugar melts at and becomes malleable. Then as it cools, the sugar crystals reform in their close knit together, but remaining in the shape we’ve created. So when totally cooled, we’re back to the hard snap that we’re used to with solid sugar work.
Why are we heating in a pan, then heating in the oven? Can’t it all be done in the pan? The oven stage could be achieved in the saucepan, but it would be far harder to manage and is very likely to burn before we’d spooned our mixture out appropriately. By breaking it down into the two stages, we’re giving ourselves all the time we need to spoon out the mixture into discs, then letting the oven do the hard work of melting the sugar to its molten stage.
Why all the butter? I’m guessing this is playing a part in the roux that we’re using the flour for. And butter is delicious.
Why the ginger? Because it’s nice! It gives these a Christmassy edge! It would certainly be interesting to try other spices – cinnamon would definitely work. I know some people add lemon as a seasoning, and (obviously) brandy. Other booze would work too. Whiskey snaps sound like something I want to be a part of. Orange would also go together with these (hence my terrible idea of an orange cream). Apple could work as well as it has an affinity with both ginger and golden syrup. Cinnamon snaps filled with an apple and custard ice cream sounds divine!
Why the chantilly cream? These tubes need something inside them! Ok, my mum loves them just on their own. And they’d make a great garnish. But these tubes are screaming out to be stuffed with something. Chantilly cream is so easy to make and perfect for these guys that I simply can’t refuse it if I have double cream in the fridge. But if you REALLY don’t fancy it, then sure – there’s tons that it can be replaced with. Ice cream is a very quick go-to if you’re stuck for ideas.
As with my breadmaker cranberry jam recipe, I’m caring and sharing with the #CookBlogShare crew this week. Do click the image below and check out all the other guys’ wonderful recipes, and do remember to comment crazy! Tis the season for sharing!