Why you should never believe anything you see on TV
I have a confession to make. I really, really love The Great British Bake Off. Shocking, I know. I still can’t decide if I want Mary Berry to adopt me or get her absolutely shit-faced and see what happens. So when I saw Mary Berry making these deliciously looking whipped cream filled brandy snaps I thought I had found my perfect Christmas dessert. Easy to make ahead, delicious looking and indulgent, but not quite so much that it will put you into a food coma.
The only difficult part seemed to be when you had to roll them around the handle of a spoon while still hot. So to save myself unnecessary stress, I decided to just turn mine into little baskets instead. Perfect, right?!
Well not quite… I had finished making the mix, spooned little portions onto parchment paper exactly as the recipe said and they had turned into lovely caramel scented circles in the oven. They were also completely and utterly stuck to the parchment paper. No amount of screaming, cursing and burning my fingers got these little bastards off their paper. So I tried again, same result. I tried using tin foil, nope still very much stuck. After a lot of swearing, a therapeutic gin and the making a second batch of brandy snap mix I finally figured out that the solution was to use the non-stick plastic liner I got to stop the bottom of my oven from looking like a total disaster. Turns out not even this superglue dough can attach itself to seriously non-stick plastic.
The final results were indeed delicious. A little bit of research on the internet confirmed that all other recipes also suggest using parchment paper, so I guess I can forgive Mary just this once. However, unless you also own a non-stick oven liner I can only recommend you try this recipe if you have recently achieved perfect calm through 20 years of mediation; your GP has told you that your blood pressure is so low that you may be clinically dead; or you really enjoy repeatedly beating your head against a wall.
For those brave enough, here is the recipe:
55g golden Demerara sugar
55g golden syrup
½ tsp ground ginger
½ tsp lemon juice
1. Preheat your oven to 180C and line a baking tray with something that is hopefully non-stick. Put 4 small glasses upside down next to your oven.
2. Add butter, syrup and sugar to a small saucepan and melt on a low heat until the sugar has dissolved (about 10-15 mins). You know the sugar has dissolved when you can’t hear it scraping along the bottom of the pan as you are stirring it.
3. Take the butter and sugar mix off the heat and sieve in the flour and ginger. Add lemon juice and stir until well combined.
4. Drop 4 generous teaspoons very far apart from each other on a baking tray and bake for 10-15 mins. They are done when they have spread out in a lattice pattern and turned a nice caramel colour.
5. Now, depending on your temperament, is the time to start swearing, praying or throwing heavy objects at innocent bystanders. Remove the tray from the oven, wait about 30 seconds and try to lift up the brandy snaps with a fish slice or large knife. They should be solid enough to not lose their shape but not so solid that you can’t bend them. Quickly press the brandy snap around the bottom of an overturned glass. Prepare to burn your fingers and do some more swearing.
6. If the brandy snaps have cooled down too much you can return them to the oven for a minute or so and they will soften up again. However, this will not help you if they have irreparably fused to the baking parchment.
7. Repeat the entire process with 4 more teaspoons of the brandy snap mix. (If it cools down enough to become solid simply roll it into teaspoon sized balls and place those on the tray). The baskets will be solid enough to take off the glasses after a couple of minutes.
I filled the 4 baskets that looked halfway decent with some mascarpone and orange slices, sprinkled with a bit of sugar and cinnamon on top. The end result was pretty tasty but not entirely worth the rage induced aneurysm.