Thursday, December 23, 2010

Mother knows best

When I mentioned my plan to make brandy snaps for Christmas to Mum, she gave me the following advice : "just make sure you give yourself plenty of time". This sounded sensible to me, except that at this time of year, time is an extremely  limited commodity.

I allowed a large chunk of last evening for it though, getting into the kitchen immediately after arriving home from dinner and gift-swapping at Lauren and Tom's.

The recipe was for 30 brandy snaps - far more than I needed to feed four people. I figured a half recipe would be more than enough. As with many biscuit recipes, you begin by creaming the butter and sugar. It was here that I got off to a very poor start, accidentally melting the butter instead of just softening it in the microwave. I don't know if you've ever tried to cream melted butter, but it doesn't work.

I persevered with it anyway, adding golden syrup, flour and ground ginger. Soon I had a fairly ordinary-looking biscuit dough. As instructed in the recipe, I dropped four tablespoons of it onto an oven tray and baked them for eight minutes.

The biscuits spread out and went flat. So far, so good. Now I just had to get through the tricky bit - shaping the brandy snaps. Mum had mentioned that Oma used to make hers in cone shapes, an idea which appealed to me but was too much for my inexpert fingers. Instead I rolled them around the handle of a wooden spoon as per the recipe.

Well, tried to, anyway. They either broke as I tried to roll them or collapsed when I took them off the wooden spoon. It seemed they were a bit underdone in the middle, so I decided to cook the next batch for slightly longer.

In summary: first batch = dud.

With the next tray in the oven (this one with only 2 brandy snaps on it) I had another idea - brandy baskets. These would work more easily with what I wanted to do with them, and, with any luck, might be easier to shape, too. I got out a patty tin and when they came out of the oven - this time cooked right through - I attempted to place them in the tins.

They weren't really any easier to shape, but it kind of worked. They're not very pretty, but the broken bits I've tried tasted ok. I should be able to do something with them. I briefly considered mixing up a new batch and trying again, but realistically, I didn't have the time.

I think this recipe might be a candidate for a "take 2" - sometime when I have a little time up my sleeve and can cook and shape them one or two at a time... which sounds a bit like something my Mother might have told me once..

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