At Sara’s wedding last week the desert was a brandy snap basket filled with ice cream and a berry sauce. I had ice cream and berry sauce. It was delicious, but it set me to wondering how hard could it be to make a gluten-free brandy snap. It is, after all, mostly caramel with just a bit of flour to give it structure. I have been desperately trying not to do a brandy snap trial as there is so much housework and other dull stuff to get done, but while the oven is cooking the turkey and there is room above for a slim baking sheet…
I looked at several recipes. They are all basically flour, butter, sugar, syrup and flavourings. I worked with one from Eleanor Smallwood on http://uktv.co.uk/food/recipe/aid/594837.
Recipe 50g butter (will try with non-dairy some other time)
50g caster sugar
2 tbs golden syrup (about 25g)
50g plain flour
½ tsp ground ginger
ground cinnamon (quantity not specified, I just added a couple of pinches)
zest of one lemon
1 tsp brandy
I did two batches, one with Doves Farm gluten free mix and one with Bob’s Red Mill all-purpose flour. I did a half recipe of each. This produced fourteen brandy snaps.
Mix the dry ingredients.
Melt the sugar, syrup and butter together. I did this in the microwave.
Mix in the flour mixture and add the brandy and lemon zest.
Spread onto baking parchment on a baking sheet. Dollop about half a tablespoon on and spread out a bit. Leave lots of room as they will double in size.
Bake in a preheated oven about 180C for about six minutes. Keep an eye on them – you want a warm caramel colour. You can always put them back in for a while if they are too pale.
Take out and let cool for a moment. You want the mixture to be just able to be lifted without being hard as you are going to roll each biscuit around a lightly greased rolling pin – as in the recipe, or, as I found easier, around a greased mini-rolling pin normally used for sugar craft.
If the biscuits have merged just push a gap between them while the batter is still very soft. I found it best to slide the baking parchment onto a cooling rack until the biscuits just started to firm up, and then slide the paper back onto the hot tin to stop them getting too hard before I could roll them.
Roll each one around your chosen implement and set on a cooling rack to continue to firm up. Store in an airtight container when cold. I need to run tests to see how long they stay crisp – I’ll post on that later.
If your brandy snaps get too firm to work with just place them back into the oven on the baking parchment to soften for about ten seconds. I left some to get too hard to work, put them back into the oven, and watched them slump back onto the sheet neatly. I could then continue the rolling easily.
too firm to roll
back on sheet and into oven for ten/twenty seconds
If you want brandy baskets just oil an upturned jar or similar, drape the cooked biscuit over the jar and ease into shape. Set aside to cool completely before storing.
Both Doves Farm and Bob’s Red Mill flours worked fine. The Dove’s Farm produced a lacier finish, and I got eight from the batter rather than six from the Bob’s Red Mill. It may be that the DF flour gives less cohesion (which I would expect) so you get a thinner batter, but I’d have to run the tests again to be sure it wasn’t just something I did.
Both flours produced an acceptable brandy snap. However, on first tasting I prefer the one made with Dove’s Farm flour. It is lighter and more brittle, and produces an easy crisp eating process which would go well with a filling of cream or icecream.
The Bob’s Red Mill flour has a more substantial, chewy caramel feel, and would be great eaten on its own or with a dipping chocolate sauce. My resident Tolerant Taster is out at the moment so I can only offer my views. I’ll post his opinions later with the aging tests on the brandy snaps.
I highly recommend you have a go. This is an easy recipe that allows a lot of room for not being too confident as you can put things back in the oven to re-soften if you make a mess. This will allow for some pretty dramatic deserts, and if they keep ok, will mean the time-consuming part can be done ahead of time. I’ll freeze some to see how they cope as well as putting them in plastic tubs.
Update Dec 7th 2010
These have stayed crisp in a plastic tub for a couple of weeks....but have now all been eaten. They were very good and indistinguishable from brandysnaps made with wheat flour. I shall certainly add them to my usual repetoire. Given that they keep ok I will also make brandysnap baskets for deserts for dinnerparties, as they are an easy way of adding some flair to a smilple desert of fruit and icecream. Just press them over an oiled mug to make a bowl shape.