I've had a few requests for my recipe for brandy snaps recently - probably because Christmas is just around the corner - so I thought I'd better share it. But first, I have a little story for you...
When I was little, waaay back in the seventies, my Dad's work used to put on a really lavish Christmas party that my parents would take me and my sister Jo to every year (my sister Cass wasn't born yet - sorry Cass, you missed out!). These parties were amazing, and I would be beside myself with excitement as the Great Day approached. Most of the festivities took place in a lovely garden with immaculate lawns and a huge fir tree glittering with tinsel and baubles. There were pony rides, a merry-go-round, and piped Christmas music by the likes of Herb Alpert and the Tijuana Brass, Bert Kaempfert and Mantovani wafting from the PA system. Father Christmas would sit on a throne beneath the fir tree and hand out presents (my favourite was two clockwork puppies in a little basket).
As if this doesn't all sound amazing enough, the best thing was the rare sense of autonomy that we, as kids, were afforded. We could eat and drink as much as we liked and were able to serve ourselves. There were metal troughs full of ice, packed with bottles of Coke, Fanta and Leed, and another icy trough loaded with Dixie Cup icecreams (they tasted all the better with those little wooden spoons, didn't they?). This incredible feast wasn't lunch either, this was just the hors d'oeuvre...
At lunchtime, the kids parted ways with the adults, and we had our own lunch room lined with long trestle tables covered with crisp white tablecloths and topped with platters crowded with immaculate little sandwich triangles, mini pies and pasties, and best of all...brandy snaps. All the other kids, obviously brainwashed by their parents, dutifully went for the sandwiches and other savouries first, but Jo and I made a beeline for those delicious little brandy snaps, as though we hadn't quite had enough sugar already, with all those drinks and icecreams. To cap off the best day ever, Father Christmas gave us all enormous bags of lollies to take home.
If I had three wishes, I think one of them would be to hop in a time machine and go back for one more Christmas as a kid. Anyway, enough nostalgia and on to brandy snaps!
Vegan Brandy Snaps
125g (4oz) vegan margarine or butter
3/4 cup brown sugar
1/3 cup golden syrup
1 cup plain flour (all purpose flour), sifted
1 teaspoon ground ginger
Preheat oven to 180C (350F). Gently melt the margarine in a small saucepan with the sugar and golden syrup, stirring occasionally, until the sugar has dissolved. Cool the mixture slightly, then add the flour and ginger, and beat well.
Place teaspoonfuls of the mixture on a baking tray lined with baking paper and make sure they're at least 10cm (4 inches) apart as they spread. Bake for 10-12 minutes until golden.
Here's where you have to work fast and have asbestos fingers (if you've never made them before, expect a few duds, but don't worry, you can eat those!). Let them cool slightly, then remove with a spatula and roll around the greased handle of a wooden spoon. Leave to set for a minute or so, then carefully slide off and place on a wire rack to cool.
You can store them in an airtight container for a few days, and fill with whipped cashew cream just before serving.
Makes around 30 brandy snaps.
Notes: - the mixture shouldn't be too thick. Once cooled, the brandy snaps should be thin, crisp and lacy, not thick and chewy, so make sure you put the exact amount of flour in, and bake them in the oven for long enough. - if you try to roll them when they've cooled too much, they'll crack, so if you get to the last couple on the tray and they're a bit stiff, put them back in the oven for about a minute to soften again. - beware, if you remove them too soon from the spoon handle, they collapse.
They're a bit fiddly, but worth it!