I didn't have time to make brandy snaps for Christmas, but today is my grandson's birthday and we are all gathering together again for a meal at my son's house. Well he has a swimming pool and it's hot. We are all making meatballs for dinner - it's the absolute top of the pops dish for my family, so I thought I would take some brandy snaps along too. To go with the cake - for which I am not responsible.
I chose to make Nigel Slater's version - disaster! On the right is the result and you can see that they turned out to be not very wonderful biscuits. They did not spread into lacy crunchiness in the oven in spite of being told that they would. And I guess they did for Nigel. So what went wrong? Well he is a tiny bit vague, well not vague exactly but not pedantic about measurements. He talked in terms of heaped tablespoons and level teaspoons instead of actual weights and measures. So I think he didn't have enough sugar or golden syrup and he had too much flour - or rather I misinterpreted his measurements. Not the right size spoons. And i don't think adding flaked almonds helped either. The mixture that I put on the trays was almost doughy and the blobs showed no signs of spreading out. The fact that they are as flat as they are is because I flattened them in desperation as they cooked. So black mark Nigel. They are supposed to look like this I think - and they do look a bit thick.
In fact I have had a couple of failures with Nigel. To be fair to him his website describes him as 'a writer who cooks' and it is probably the writing that I love about him. But no, that's not fair either, because he does have some really simple and interesting recipe ideas. But this time - no, no, no. DO NOT MAKE NIGEL SLATER'S BRANDY SNAPS.
So I looked back at the other recipes I had mentioned and settled on the one from the Great British Chefs website, written by one Sally Abé who is apparently a chef at one of London's prestigious restaurants. And it worked. Actually I was a bit worried that this one would go too far the other way to Nigel's doughy mixture, because it was pretty runny and when the snaps were finished they were very, very, thin.
Whilst they were cooking in the oven I searched for wooden spoons to roll them around which is when I went into another minor panic because in the end I only found two with round handles and I thought that I might need a few. Everything else - and I have a lot of wooden spoons and spatulas had oblong shaped handles. Who knew? Fortunately I had two trays of brandy snaps so I could deal with one whilst the other finished cooking, but boy did you have to be quick. You had to wait a moment for them to firm up slightly and become undangerously warm rather than burning temperature and then you had to rapidly bend them round the wooden spoon - and slide them off because of the lack of further spoons to roll them around. And now that I think of it Nigel Slater recommended wrapping them around rolling pins - far too thick surely? I actually wonder whether you could even wrap them around your fingers.
By the time I came to the last two on the tray they had solidified too much to bend. But I did remember that I had read in yet another recipe that if this happened you could put them back in the oven to soften up again. And they did. They were supposed to look like this and actually as you can see from the photo at the top of the page they more or less did. So thank you Sally.
I decided to go with Nigel with his mascarpone filling though, and have made that. I won't fill the brandy snaps until this afternoon though, and actually I'm hoping the children will do that anyway. I'll take some strawberries too just in case anyone wants them as an 'extra' flavour boost. Now all I have to pray for is that they won't all shatter into crumbs on the way there. I'm still pondering on how to transport them.