My absolute favorite thing about the holidays — besides the time with family and friends — is hands-down the COOKIES! Retail stores and local craft shops are known to pass out a few fresh cookies to spread the holiday cheer as you shop, and I'll typically grab an extra sample or two when the wife isn't looking. "I'm just not sure if that's nutmeg or cinnamon I taste, I think I'll just have to try one more to be certain." Given all the good spirits and reason for celebration, talking the wife into helping me cook a batch of cookies at 10pm is also an easier sell. Last night that very thing happened while browsing through our Fannie Farmer cookbook. Brandy Snaps! Now this we have to try. Now!
Maybe I've overestimated my cookie prowess, because before I flipped to this page in the cookbook I had no idea what a Brandy Snap was. The lack of pictures in this cookbook meant I had to envision it myself — before going to Google to verify my thoughts. A brandy snap is simply a thin buttery sugar crisp shaped into a tube and then filled with brandy flavored whipped cream. Something about it just sounded right — most likely the brandy part. The snaps also seemed relatively easy to make, and we had just about all the ingredients on hand. Cookie magic was bound to happen.
The recipe itself warned that it might take you a few tries to get the hang of brandy snaps, and in practice this proved very true. I didn't have to worry too much about getting the perfect consistency or temperature for the batter (a corn syrup, butter, sugar, and flour mixture). It seemed forgiving enough and I got good crisps batter the first go around. What took practice was knowing when the cookies are done, and shaping them into rolls.
The recipe mentions that the crisps should bake for 5-7 minutes and should not be pale. I found that turning the tray halfway through this time range helped the cookies toast evenly in our not-so-fancy oven. Our first batch (baked at 7 minutes) ended up being too dark, and too brittle to shape. These, of course, were crushed and eaten as chips while the other batches were made. I could see you putting these little crisps in a scoop of ice cream or a garnish for a parfait if you just wanted to call it a day at this point.
The second batch was better (baked at 6 minutes). They weren't too pale, not overly dark, just a nice even caramel tone. Wait 30 seconds to a minute once removing the crisps from the oven before trying to shape them — as the recipe suggests seeing if the edges lift up with a spatula is a good test. My wife and I first tried shaping them over a whisk as suggested by this tip from The Pioneer Woman. That method didn't work like the pictures for us, though. The cold metal of the whisk and the cold temps of our home this winter evening proved too drastic a temperature change for the (still warm) crisps to shape well. What worked best was simply lifting up an edge of the crisp and then rolling them directly on the Silpat (still on the warm cookie tray). This was easy, workable, and we now had a method for more snap making.
For the filling, we used our Isi Whipped Cream dispenser (one of our great wedding gifts) and simply added the heavy cream, sugar, and the brandy — plus an extra spoonful for good luck. Making whipped cream with the dispenser is as easy as screwing in a cartridge, shaking, and dispensing. The cream tasted great, and I definitely recommend adding that extra teaspoon of brandy.
Since it was the holidays, I also thought it would be a nice and tasty touch to top with peppermint sprinkles or crushed candy canes. So I sprinkled some on top before I snapped the photo of these piped creations. The brandy snap is a great cookie and one that isn't too hard to whip up once you get the hang of it. The crisp itself is delicious and addicting, and you'll likely find yourself putting broken crisps into your mouth as you bake the rest. Altogether with the filling and the peppermint (definitely recommend the peppermint), I found these to be a delicious new treat I'm glad to have in my arsenal for the next holiday cookie party.
→ Get the Recipe: Marion Cunningham's Brandy Snaps via The LA Times
→ Get the Book: The Fannie Farmer Cookbook
(Images: Chris Perez)