Brandy snaps are delicate lacy biscuits traditionally shaped into tubes . Buttery and crisp at the same time with the delicious warming flavour of ginger. They are also really rather pretty.
A traditional British biscuit
I have a confession to make. For a long time, while I have always loved brandy snap biscuits and made them many times, I had never really given much thought to where they originated. If asked I would have probably have hazarded a guess and said that brandy snaps were French.
It therefore came as a surprise to discover they were in fact British and probably originated in Yorkshire. I really would not have associated these fine, delicate and lacy cookies with traditional Yorkshire cooking.
I discovered the fact when I was was researching regional British biscuits and was flicking through a Yorkshire Woman's Institute recipe book from the 1950 or 60's, that my father-in-law had given me .
The book was complete with a little introduction to their provenance.
The sale of sweetmeats at fairs is a common occurrence, but Brandy Snaps are particularly associated with Hull. This fair dates back to 1279 when the town was called Wyke..... Hull fair was originally established for the sale of horses, cattle and foreign goods but soon the provision of amusement became and integral part of the gathering and Brandy Snaps were looked upon as a favourite delicacy. These Brandy Snaps have been a traditional sweetmeat on sale at Hull fair for many years."WI Yorkshire Recipes cookbook
I've made many different recipes for brandy snaps over the years and they are all very similar. This recipe has been adapted from that Yorkshire WI book converting the measurements from imperial to metric. I've also added a lot more detail to the instructions. Old recipes are often rather basic!
I noticed that this recipe uses more ground ginger than most, I like them but if you want a less gingery snap then, by all means, reduce to ½ or even ¼ teaspoon of ginger.
Some recipes have brandy in them others don't. The name "brandy" in this case is probably related to "branded" (as in burnt). Regardless I have included it, I'm not really sure it makes much difference but I wanted to stay true the original WI recipe. If you prefer leave it out and replace with 1 teaspoon lemon juice.
Brandy snaps have a bit of a reputation for being difficult to make. The method to make them is actually very simple. The only tricky part is shaping them into the traditional finger shape.
Brandy snap biscuits are made by what is known as the melting method.
1 First heat the butter, sugar and golden syrup in a pan. Do this over a low heat and cook until the butter has melted and the sugar has dissolved.
2 Next remove from the heat and add 1 teaspoon of brandy. Then add the flour, lemon zest and ginger all in one go.
3 Mix to a smooth consistency.
4 Drop round teaspoons of the mixture well spaced on a baking sheet.
Secrets for sucess
Once out of the oven they need to cool just enough that they are firm enough to handle and then quickly shaped before they set hard which happens in a matter of minutes.
Cook in small batches
The trick is to cook just a few at a time. I cooked six at a time but if it's your first time I would suggest you start with four. If you have two baking sheets you can have some cooking while shaping the others so it won't take up too much of your time.
Allow room for them to spread
The other watchpoint is to remember the mixture will spread a lot so make sure they are well spaced on the baking sheet.
5 Cook until the batter has spread to form a golden brown lacy biscuit.
6 Allow to cool slightly until firm enough to quickly lift the brandy snaps one at a time off the baking sheet with a palette knife.
Shape around the handle of a wooden spoon,
lacy side out, to form a tube.
7 Allow to cool completely while still wrapped around the handle of the spoon then gently slide off.
If they do cool down too much to shape try popping back into the oven for a minute or two to soften.
How to serve
As well as, the traditional shape brandy snap, you can drape them over the back of a muffin tin or over and orange to shape into a basket, to make a pretty container for a dessert.
Alternatively, if you find them tricky to shape, you can draping them over a rolling pin to form a curved biscuit or just leave them flat. It's really up to you.
How long do these biscuits keep?
Brandy snaps will keep for up to 1 week if stored in an airtight container in a cool place.
If filling with cream do this just before serving as the brandy snap will start to soften after an hour or so.
Brandy snaps are not suitable for freezing.
- baking sheet
- palette knife
- wooden spoons
- 50 g (2oz) butter
- 50 g (2oz) golden caster sugar
- 2 tablespoons golden syrup
- 1 teaspoon brandy
- 50 g (2oz) plain flour all purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon ground ginger
- ½ lemon finely grated zest only
- Preheat the oven to 180℃ (160℃ fan)/350°F/gas mark 4. Lightly grease or line 2 baking sheets with baking parchment.
- Place 50g (2oz) butter, 50g (2oz) sugar and 2 tablespoons golden syrup in a small pan over a low heat. Heat gently stirring until the butter melts and the sugar dissolves. Do this slowly and make sure the sugar has dissolved before removing from the heat.
- Stir in 1 teaspoon brandy. Sift 50g (2oz) flour and 1 teaspoon ginger into the pan and add the zest of ½ lemon. Mix well to a smooth consistency.
- Drop rounded teaspoons of the mixture onto a baking sheet leaving plenty of room between for the biscuits to spread. Bake one tray at a time for 7-8 minutes until golden brown.
- Remove the baking sheet from the oven and allow to stand for a moment or two until the biscuits can be easily lifted from the sheet with a palette knife. Shape the biscuits by wrapping around the handle of a wooden spoon and leaving for a minute to set.
- Repeat until all the biscuits are made. Store in an airtight container
- Brandy snaps need to be shaped before they cool and harden which happens in a matter of moments, so you will need to work quickly.
- Cook just a few at a time. I cooked six at a time but if it's your first time I would suggest you start with four. If you have two baking sheets you can have some cooking while shaping the others so it won't take up too much of your time.
- Remember the mixture will spread a lot so make sure they are well spaced on the baking sheet.
This recipe first appeared on my other Blog Recipes Made Easy