Brandy snaps were the thing my paternal grandmother always presented at family pot luck dinners. I was always impressed and excited to see the plastic wrapped plate of brandy snaps filled with cream. Seriously - how did she get them so crispy and with all those lacy holes. I have to admit to being a whole lot less impressed as a baking adult when I realised that these amazing creations were the result of opening a packet of mass produced brandy snaps and filling them with whipped cream. Well, I *think* she at least whipped the cream herself. Let's not shatter any more illusions of my childhood. It would appear that I am quite judgemental in my old age...
And whilst it may seem as though I whip up a batch of these every other week, this is my second only attempt. Mine were definitely not the lacy confection of my grandmother's "makings". Mine were definitely, as Mary Berry would say, "informal" - which basically means rustically homemade.
The actual brandy snap mix is a one pot wonder of sugar, golden syrup, butter all melted together and then mixed with ginger, flour and surprisingly enough, brandy. I can't quite recall the exact method. I was multi tasking making a tiramisu (Rose's Heavenly Cake recipe) for Chris's birthday.
I then spooned the mix onto the baking sheet, allowing a lot of room for expansion. Rose recommends 2 - 2 1/4 inch rounds. I think I would have preferred a weight. Because for the last tray, my mix had solidified quite a bit and the 2 inch rounds were considerably taller and consequently they were giant brandy snaps. No one complained though.
During the baking process the mix effectively boils, and because of the lack of flour/copious amounts of sugar it produces the lacy effect. Except if you have a thick mixture. Which I clearly did, because my brandy snaps were more akin to a crocheted afghan blanket, rather than anything approaching lace. I am not sure how I could have got a thinner mix - add less flour? Boil the mix less? Add water? Add more brandy? I think add more brandy - no losers there.
Once the brandy snaps are cool enough to touch, they are then wrapped around an appropriately sized dowel. I improvised.
Are you just pleased to see me?
The handle of the wooden spoon wedged into the drawer. Given the sturdiness of my brandy snap, I ended up just hand rolling them into the tubular shape, and so long as they cooled seam side down, they all stayed rolled and didn't flatten. So there are some upsides to having sturdier mix.
My grandmother only ever filled her brand snaps with whipped cream. Rose pushed the boat out with the cannoli cream. I have to say I have a fairly soft spot for cannoli (always plural). That filling, the crispy shell, heaven. I have never ever tried to make cannoli - that is a big investment in cannoli moulds and fat for frying let alone the risk of third degree burns.
Except Rose's cannoli cream isn't the usual creme patisserie. Instead it is crème pat adulterated (and I do believe that is the correct usage of the word) with soaked currants and dried cherries, mascarpone cream, Cointreau (instead of Grand Marnier) and whipped cream. The crème patisserie was absolutely incredible. Instead of dividing an egg in half I just doubled the ingredients. Why do things by halves?
Crème Patisserie. True Love.
I could have happily just filled the brandy snaps right there and then. It would have saved me from *testing* that the crème patisserie had cooled to the right temperature. Especially given I seemed to have *forgotten* how to use the thermometer and instead I was forced to eat teaspoons at a time. Apparently the time between hot and perfect folding temperature is approximately 122 grams of crème patisserie. Double the recipe to then eat half - genius. Fat, sugar compromised genius, but genius non the less.
Sour Cherry injury
The dried cherries were cut into quarter inch bits, which resulted in a scissor injury. I think I will use a knife next time or some kind of dried cherry vice. Bracing myself through the pain, the cut up cherries and the currants and reduced with whisky (or brandy), sugar and orange zest. Once cooled, this was folded through the mascarpone. I am not sure how mascarpone is in the rest of the world, but I have found it highly susceptible to over whipping. So I just folded the fruit mix into the mascarpone by hand, rather than pulling out the mixer. Then the crème patisserie is folded in to create enough mix to fill double the number of brandy snaps you actually have.
I was faffing about in the drawer trying to find a tip big enough to pipe the filling. As luck would have it, I selected a large star tip. It would be dishonest of me to say that I purposefully chose this size because I anticipated that the chunky fruit would get caught by anything smaller. Let's just say that sometimes the baking gods smile. I only filled four brandy snaps, figuring that the kids wouldn't like the cream given the dead flies (currants) and lingering weirdness of the booze. I was correct with two out of the three.
Isaac ate three out of the four with no complaints about either lumps or booze. I ate one, with complaints about lumps and booze - I definitely prefer the plain crème patisserie. The remaining brandy snaps have been eaten without filling by the little boys and with filling by Isaac.
While I won't make the filling again, I will definitely be making the crème patisserie and the brandy snaps. And I think even the little boys would happily eat that combination.
Tiramisu and Brandy Snap Cannoli
Next week monkey dunkey something or other brioche bun thingy what what. I have baked this in error and lord alive it was the best baking stuff up I have ever made. I will be baking it again this weekend...