One summer I had an intense desire to make a perfect brandy snap. A friend had served me three of these delicious wafers, and I couldn't believe how good they were. He had just returned from a trip to Australia, where they are a national favorite; in fact, they were served to him in all the private homes he visited.
He determined to learn to make them on the spot. He got the recipe and someone showed him how to make them; even so it took him a few trial runs before he could confidently reproduce them.
He gave me the recipe and explained that it takes practice to get the hang of figuring out when they are done and when they can be rolled. I had some gooey messes and some broken wafers before I could count on success. But it's like riding a bicycle: Once you get it, you've got it and it is well worth all the fussing. Perfect brandy snaps are the world's best cookie.
Brandy snaps are thin caramel wafers rolled round as a fat cigar, about 2 1/2 to 3 inches long, often filled with sweetened brandy-flavored whipped cream. Traditionally, the brandy is added to the batter, but the flavor of the brandy dissipates during baking. It is better to add it to the whipped cream.
I don't know why brandy snaps have never been as popular in this country as in other places. Perhaps the little patience it takes to learn to make them was too discouraging. Anyway, they make a fabulous dessert. Wafers date to the 14th century and came to England via the Flemish. They are still being made at some English country fairs.
These keep indefinitely in an airtight container. You can eat brandy snaps as is, without filling, or mix a little brandy into whipped cream and fill when the rolled cookies are cool.
1/3 cup dark corn syrup
1/4 pound (1 stick) butter, cut into pieces
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup flour
Put corn syrup, butter and sugar into heavy-bottomed pan. Heat mixture over low heat, stirring, until butter has melted and mixture is smooth. Don't let mixture boil. Remove from heat and vigorously stir in flour, beating until smooth. (Rotary beater will do this easily.)
Drop batter by 1/2 teaspoons on greased baking sheets. Try doing only 5 cookies at a time, until you see how much they spread. Bake at 350 degrees until cookies turn nice medium caramel color, about 5 to 7 minutes. Cookies should spread into about 2 1/2-inch rounds, or little larger, and bubble.
Remove from oven and cool until cookies are firm enough to lift off baking sheet with spatula. Roll with fingers or around clean broom handle into tubes about 3/4 inch around.
If cookies get too firm to manage, return to oven 1 to 2 minutes to soften. If batter in pan gets too stiff to use, heat, stirring, until melted enough to drop from teaspoon.
Makes about 3 dozen (4-inch) cookies.
Each cookie contains about:
37 calories; 15 mg sodium; 3 mg cholesterol; 1 gram fat; 6 grams carbohydrates; 0 grams protein; 0 grams fiber.