Have brandy snaps gone out of fashion?

Brandy snaps used to feature regularly at tea parties when I was younger… wafer thin, brittle circles of a toffee-like mixture, firmed into tubes when still warm and then filled with whipped cream. I had no idea why they were called brandy snaps – the snap part is easy, they should crack or snap when they are broken or eaten, but brandy? There’s no brandy in the, they are totally alcohol free and I’ve learned that the brandy was originally ‘branded’, meaning burnt. Actually they aren’t burnt, they are just cooked to a crisp.

Now I’m thinking about them, I remember that they were called ginger snaps when I was a child, but I don’t remember there being ginger in them – or maybe there was. U think my mum used to make them on special occasions, probably adult parties rather than children’s parties. There is a funny family story of mum”s sister, when she was only just married deciding to make brandy/ginger snaps; to shape them into tubes you put spoonfuls of the mixture onto a greased baking tray; they spread in the oven, and as soon as they come out, taking care not to burn fingers, you wrap each one round the handle of a wooden spoon. They cool quickly and can be slid off to await their creamy filling. My aunty, reading the recipe saw the mixture made ten brandy/ginger snaps. She only had one wooden spoon, so she went round all the neighbours borrowing enough wooden spoons to make the ten snaps – not realising that they cool so quickly that there is enough time to take them one by one off the hot baking tray… I must remind my cousins of the story!

Here is a recipe which you may find amusing – it’s nearly a hundred years old, and will make nice snaps, but the method is interesting!

Ginger snaps

  • 4 z golden syrup
  • 2 oz margarine
  • 4 oz plain flour
  • 4 oz demerara sugar
  • 1 tsp ground ginger
  1. melt the syrup, margarine and sugar in a pan but do not make them hot
  2. add the flour and ginger
  3. place an asbestos mat (NO DON’T!! ASBESTOS IS DEADLY DANGEROUS!!) under the saucepan and stir the mixture until it boils
  4. simmer for three minutes. Take the mixture off the heat and leave it to get cold
  5. when cold it will be firm enough to cut. Roll into small balls the size of a walnut
  6. roll out very thinly, the size of a small plate
  7. grease two baking sheets and place four snaps on each
  8. bake them in a moderate oven for ten mins
  9. remove the tins from the oven and let the snaps cool for a minute or two before rolling them up
  10. to shape them, lay a clean nicely shaped carrot (!!!) (or a cornucopia tin) at the side of each and roll up quickly

NOTE:- if they set before there is time to roll them up, warm them in the oven again

What a performance! I can imagine a lot of frustrated cooks having their snaps snapping all over the place, being the wrong shape, and needing to be heated up several times… and don’t you just love the idea of a nicely shaped carrot serving to roll the snaps?!

Here is a recipe I found in my mum’s recipe scrap book, and these ones actually do have brandy in them:

Brandy snaps

  • 2 oz golden syrup
  • 2 oz butter
  • 2 oz brown sugar
  • 2 oz flour
  • 1 tsp lemon juice
  • 2 tsp brandy
  • zest of half a lemon
  1. melt syrup, sugar and butter over a gentle heat
  2. mix in the other ingredients
  3. put teaspoons of the mixture onto a greased baking sheet leaving 4 inches between them (yes, 4, they spread)
  4. bake 7-10 mins at gas mark 3, 325º F, 170º C
  5. until lightly browned
  6. cool slightly then ease from the tin while warm and shape them into rolls (it doesn’t say how, but my aunty’s wooden spoon handle would be ideal!)
  7. fill each end with brandy flavoured butter cream if liked

Much simpler!

 

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