The signature challenge dared contestants to come up with a creative twist on the classic, crunchy cookie
(Linda Xiao / Food52)
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The second episode of the 12th season of “The Great British Bake Off” premiered on Sept. 28, and once again, there were some sweet recipes. Most notably were Brandy Snaps, which were introduced as part of the show’s signature challenge. They sound delicious, right? Are they just gingersnaps made with brandy and filled with cream? Yes and no. Ahead, find out how to make a traditional batch of Brandy Snaps, plus how to make them your own.
What are Brandy Snaps?
These thin, rolled cookies only call for a few ingredients but they’re quite fragile to make, which is why they’re the perfect recipe to introduce in a competition baking show like “GBBO,” especially during “Biscuit Week.” In this week’s challenge, bakers could form the cookies in any shape they pleased but they had to be coated, dipped, or filled, a signature feature of Brandy Snaps. They also must look identical, another signature feature of these British cookies.
According to Prue Leith, “It’s not a Brandy Snap if it doesn’t snap.” Seems simple enough, but the problem is that any cream filling or coating contributes moisture, which could cause an otherwise crunchy cookie to turn soft, soggy, and sad quite quickly.
A traditional Brandy Snap is made with butter, granulated brown sugar, dark molasses or corn syrup, a blend of warming spices (think: ground ginger and cinnamon), flour, and of course, brandy. The wet ingredients are combined in a saucepan and heated to form a caramel sauce; the caramel is then mixed with flour and brandy and formed into a dough. Once the dough has chilled thoroughly in the fridge, individual balls are formed and baked; as they bake, they spread out into paper-thin discs, which are later rolled into hollow logs and filled with whipped cream. Add a splash of brandy to the cream for even more sweet, spiced notes.
Variations of Brandy Snaps
During this week’s episode, bakers took the liberty of developing their own recipe for Brandy Snaps. Contestant Lizzie filled hers with crème diplomat, a nearly indestructible pastry cream, and apples caramelized in Calvados brandy. Contestant Crystelle shaped her Brandy Snaps into an open shell and filled each one with apple cider vinegar-soaked apples and piled a crumble topping with vanilla chantilly cream on each biscuit. Other bakers formed a traditional cigar-shaped snap and filled them with varied cream fillings: blackcurrant and crème de cassis, orange blossom and pistachio, and coffee.
Recipe: Brandy Snaps
Makes: 60 to 70 cookies (feel free to halve the recipe)
- 1 cup butter
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 2/3 cup dark molasses
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon ginger
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 4 teaspoons brandy
- Heavy whipping cream (optional)
- Preheat oven to 325° F.
- Stir butter, sugar, molasses, cinnamon, and ginger together over low heat until melted.
- Remove from heat and add flour and brandy. Chill the dough until firm enough to shape, about 20 minutes.
- Roll into 3/4-inch balls and place on the baking sheet. Leave room for them to spread.
- Bake for approximately 12 to 13 minutes on Silpat- or parchment paper-lined cookie sheet.
- When the cookies have cooled enough that you can touch them but they are still warm (about 5 minutes), use a spatula to pull them from the sheet and quickly roll them around a pencil to form tubes (rubber gloves recommended to prevent your fingers from burning). When the cookies are flat, they should look almost like a lace cookie. They are very fragile, so if you over bake, they’ll break and be too brittle to roll; under-baking just a smudge is good.
- If you’d like (and are serving immediately), whip up some heavy whipping cream and dot each end of the rolled cookies with it.
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