golden syrup

Brandy snaps

brandy snaps 1

Brandy snaps were my mother-in-law’s absolute favourite. So eager to please (in the early stages of my relationship with Ben) I attempted to make her some as a birthday gift. After several angry hours in the kitchen and lots of wasted ingredients I ended up with THREE that were just about presentable.

I then swore that I would never, ever make them again. But that was 10 years ago now.

On another, but relevant note (bear with me here), I am having a year of rereading. This is a brilliant experience which I would definitely recommend. In many cases I am enjoying my favourite books even more the second time around. And as the books are a stable, unchanging thing, this is highlighting to me just how much I’ve changed. I am rereading the books through older, more experienced and perhaps wiser eyes.

My experience with trying to make brandy snaps again after 10 years is similar. The memory of failure has nagged at me for all these years but this time around they came out just fine with a minimum of stress and I wondered what an earth all the fuss had been about. The thing is, it’s not the recipe that’s changed – it’s me. I’m definitely now more patient (which probably goes hand in hand with being a mother). I also now except advice and don’t assume I know it all already.

Plus, the amazing teaching tool that is YouTube didn’t exist all those years ago (if my instructions below are in anyway unclear I recommend watching Mary Berry’s YouTube video).

Mary Berry’s brandy snaps

Makes 8-12

  • 50g of butter
  • 50g of demerara sugar
  • 50g of golden syrup
  • 50g of flour
  • ½ a teaspoon of lemon juice
  • ½ a teaspoon of powdered ginger

Put the butter, sugar and syrup into a small saucepan and heat very, very slowly, stirring regularly until all the ingredients are melted. Take your time here and make sure that all the sugar has dissolved and is not grainy. It will take around 10-15 minutes (put your patient head on). Leave to cool a little (for around 5 minutes).

Measure out the flour and ginger and sieve into the saucepan once the butter/sugar/syrup mix has cooled.

Give everything a good stir and add the lemon juice. The mixture should now be smooth and glossy.

Take a flat baking tray and line with some baking parchment. Dollop a teaspoon of the mix onto the baking tray. Leave plenty of space between each dollop as they will spread out massively. I recommend 4 to each sheet and doing them in batches.

Place in an oven preheated to 160oC fan to bake. They will take around 10 – 15 minutes but start watching after 8. They should spread out and turn lacy and a nice deep golden colour.

Take them out of the oven and leave to cool for a few minutes. You will not be able to shape them straight from the oven as they will still be too runny.

When just firm enough, use a palette knife to carefully lift each brandy snap off the baking sheet. Then curl around a well-greased wooden spoon to shape. You can also make baskets by placing them over the bottom of a glass.

Leave to cool completely and go rock hard and then keep in an air tight container.

I prefer them unfilled but you can fill them with whipped cream if you like (you will need a piping bag and nozzle for this). Or cheat and use squirty cream. But don’t fill them until you are ready to eat or they will go soft.

Ricotta hotcakes

ricotta hotcakes

I have mentioned Nigella Lawson’s ricotta hotcakes before but at that time I just included a link to the recipe on her website because I only ever made them very occasionally for my husband who disliked my stodgier Be-Ro dropped scones.

Nearly two years on however these have become the ones I ALWAYS cook. It turns out that my children prefer them too and with no sugar in the pancake itself they are a teeny bit healthier. Nigella keeps hers healthy by serving them simply, with strawberries, but in our house it’s golden syrup and chocolate spread all the way, so they do still remain a weekend breakfast treat.

You need two bowls and you do need to remember to buy ricotta cheese from the supermarket, but once you’ve made them a couple of times you’ll find that they’re not that difficult to make.

Because there is no sugar in the batter they also make a good alternative to blini topped with savory toppings like smoked fish and sour cream.

Nigella’s ricotta hotcakes

Makes about 20

  • 1 tub (250g) of ricotta cheese
  • 125ml of semi-skimmed milk
  • 2 eggs
  • 100g of plain flour
  • 1 teaspoon of baking powder
  • 1 pinch of salt
  • Groundnut oil (or other flavourless oil) for frying

You’ll need two mixing bowls. First separate the eggs and put the egg yolks in one bowl and the whites in the other.

In the bowl with the egg yolks add ricotta cheese and milk. Mix until well combined and then add the flour, salt and baking powder and mix again until you have a thickish batter.

Whisk the egg whites in the other bowl until foamy. This will only take a couple of minutes – you don’t need stiff peaks as for meringue.

Fold the egg whites into the ricotta mixture with a metal spoon, nice and gently so that you don’t knock out too much air.

Heat a large frying pan with a little groundnut oil to a medium high heat. Then add dessert spoons of batter into the pan (I do four at a time).

Cook the pancakes for about a minute until golden and then flip and cook on the other side for about another minute. The batter is quite delicate so this is probably the trickiest bit.

Continue this process until all the batter is finished, keeping the cooked ones warm on a warmed plate covered with a tea towel (or in my case I act as pancake slave, serving up each batch immediately to my family of hungry little birds who eat them more quickly than I can make them).

ricotta egg yolks burghley

Showing off my new Burleigh bowl – a 38th birthday present from my mum.