Thursday, December 4, 2008

12 Cookies of Christmas: Day 4 ~ Brandy Snaps

I'm not sure what I was hoping for when I chose this recipe. I thought it was odd that it contained no brandy, but I had no problem with that. I had no brandy either, and this meant no trip to the store. It's such a traditional and quaint-sounding recipe that I had to give it a try. Believe me when I say that the resulting stream-of-consciousness monologue issuing forth from my lips during the creation of these cookies sounded anything but quaint. Unless your idea of "quaint" is broad enough to encompass evil-tempered, potty-mouthed sailors.

All joking aside, of all the cookies I've baked in my life, I'm not sure if I've ever experienced anything quite as frustrating as these. The dough wasn't hard to make. In fact, quite the contrary. Brandy Snaps start life as a cooked batter that is dropped onto a parchment-lined cookie sheet. But the rolling process . . . fuggedabowdit.

Let's just say that the first few cookies I scraped off the baking tray ended up looking like gargantuan pale raisins, too wrinkled to bother with even trying to fix. Into the garbage they went. Then, I had the bright idea to grease the spatula. Not much better, as this made the cookies incredibly greasy, and they didn't want to stick to the cone molds (I used large piping tips).

The wooden-spoon-handle thing completely eluded me. Eventually I realized the problem was that the cookies were underbaked. The directions put the bake time at 12 minutes, or "until nicely browned." A cookie with molasses and 4 teaspoons of ginger is pretty brown at any stage of doneness, so this was a terrible meter. I extended the bake time to 14 minutes.

The directions also said to remove the cookies from the sheet immediately. This was a mistake as well. When I tried this, disaster. If I waited at least a minute, the cookies were still plenty malleable and they didn't fall apart. When I waited a bit longer, I at last achieved success at rolling them around the spoon handle ~ and, more importantly, getting them off again!

All things considered, I wouldn't make these again. The flavor was okay, but only because I replaced half of the molasses with honey. The texture of the dough ~ like chewed taffy ~ makes it very difficult to manage. It glooped and slopped all over my stove, dishes, countertop, and self. I eventually grew so tired of it, I only baked off half of the dough ~ even though I halved the recipe to begin with. The rest is sitting in my fridge, turning to stone.

On a positive note, these made very nice mini ice cream cups. To form them, I draped the warm cookies over the bottoms of upended mini-muffin cups and put them in the fridge for a few minutes. Here's a picture with my little Brandy Snap bowl filled with graham cracker-caramel ice cream (store bought). I've included a tablespoon in the picture to show scale.

Brandy Snaps

~Adapted from Gourmet magazine, July 1949, available online here
  • 1 1/2 cups butter

  • 1 1/2 cups sugar

  • 1 cup molasses (I used half molasses and half honey)

  • 4 teaspoons powdered ginger

  • 3 cups sifted all-purpose flour

  1. Preheat oven to 300 degrees F. Combine butter, sugar, and molasses/honey in a medium saucepan over medium heat; stir until blended. Add ginger and continue stirring. Remove pan from heat and gradually add in flour, beating after each addition.

  2. Drop batter onto buttered or parchment-lined baking sheet, spacing cookies about 2 inches apart. Use a wet offset spatula to smooth and flatten cookies. Bake for 12 to 14 minutes at 300 degrees F.

  3. Remove cookies from pan and roll over the handle of a wooden spoon or cone mold; let cool. Store in airtight containers.

    1. Don't forget to check out what the other bakers in our cookie troop have been up to today!Andrea of Andrea's Recipes, Claire of The Barefoot Kitchen, Kelly of Sass & Veracity, Courtney of Coco Cooks, Jerry of Cooking by the Seat of My Pants, and Judy of No Fear Entertaining.


    glamah16 said...

    Even after reading KelleyPeas,Jerry's ,and Andreas encounters with this cookie, I vow to make it. Funny how we all choce it. Was going to make tonight but I need to have my wits and A game on .I love the serving didh you made with the cookie for ice cream. Cute!

    Andrea said...

    I'd say you persevered and won. Making the mini ice cream bowl was brilliant.

    Judy@nofearentertaining said...

    Wow, I have to say I am so glad that I hadn't gotten to these yet. I am not making these. I can't believe that well respected magazine could print something that just doesn't work!
    Love the ice cream bowl cookie!

    Maureen said...

    My son adored these cookies as a child in England. The batter should be very thin so the cookies are dangerously crisp (for a child) but wonderful.

    Think of a tuile.

    The British recipes call for Golden Syrup which is a far cry from molasses. Closer to the dreaded corn syrup.

    Kristen said...

    This is the second post I've seen today about brandy snaps that didn't have any brandy in them. Strange!
    At least they look cute :)

    Anonymous said...

    Evil-tempered foul-mouthed sailor, indeed. I'm with you on that. But you've made them look beautiful, and the idea of the ice cream cup is fantastic. I just love your photography skills!

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