Week 2 of Bake Off saw biscuits take over the tent with the bakers doing signature brandy snaps, technically challenging jam sandwich biscuits (which are absolutely NOT called Jammie Dodgers) and showstopping biscuit toys! It’s been a while since I’ve made brandy snaps, the last time was probably the time I went to An Extra Slice which was over 6 years ago at this point! I was inspired by another classic baked item that I’ve always wanted to try, the cannoli and fused them together into my Brandy Snaps filled with Cannoli Cream!
Cannoli are a traditional Italian baked good consisting of fried tubes of dough filled with a sweet and creamy filling. I was inspired by the brandy snap shape to make a hybrid fusion of the two bakes, filling the brandy snap with the traditional cannoli cream. The filling is made using ricotta cheese sweetened with some icing sugar with a dash of cinnamon and flecked with chocolate chips. An important step is to drain the ricotta before making the filling so the filling is not too wet.
But naturally, the ricotta will still hold moisture and therefore the brandy snaps will soften over time, although this applies to any filling. If you want to serve these and keep the snaps crisp, fill them just before serving! For some added texture, I dip the end of the snap into chopped hazelnuts.
For the brandy snaps:
- 40g margarine or unsalted butter
- 40g soft light brown sugar
- 40g golden syrup
- 35g plain flour
- Pinch of ground cinnamon
For the cannoli filling:
- 250g full fat ricotta cheese, drained out on kitchen paper for at least two hours
- 40g icing sugar
- Pinch of ground cinnamon
- 50ml double cream
- Half a teaspoon of vanilla extract
- 50g finely chopped dark chocolate, or mini chocolate chips
- Roasted chopped hazelnuts, to decorate
Preheat the oven to 180°C fan. Line two baking trays with baking parchment.
Place the margarine, sugar and golden syrup into a saucepan and cook over a medium heat until the margarine has melted and the sugar has dissolved, making sure that the mixture does not boil for too long. Leave the mixture to cool for 2 minutes.
Add in the flour and the ground cinnamon and stir until a smooth mixture is formed. Using a dessertspoon, take a heaped dessertspoonful of the mixture and place on the baking parchment, spreading out into a circle using the spoon. Repeat until you have 4 on the tray, ensuring you leave plenty of space between each one for spreading.
Bake this tray of brandy snaps for around 10 minutes until the brandy snaps have spread out, have a lacy appearance and are a deep amber golden brown, but not burnt. While the first brandy snaps are baking, you should use up the rest of the brandy snap mixture to fill the second baking tray and oil either a small rolling pin about 2cm in diameter or the handle of a thick wooden spoon to shape the snaps.
When the brandy snaps have baked, bring them out of the oven and leave them to cool for a minute. Using either a spatula or a palette knife, carefully transfer the brandy snap to the oiled rolling pin and wrap the brandy snap around to shape, trying your best to hold together the joined ends while it sets.
Repeat with the next brandy snap, working quickly so that the mixture does not set too much. The brandy snap can be transferred to a wire rack if it has cooled and set. If the brandy snaps are too firm to shape, return them to the oven to soften. Then bake the second tray of brandy snaps and repeat the shaping process.
When the brandy snaps are cool and you are ready to fill them, whisk the ricotta cheese in a bowl with the icing sugar, ground cinnamon, double cream and vanilla extract until it is a smooth mixture. Fold through the dark chocolate shavings or chips until evenly incorporated. Place into a piping bag and cut off an opening large enough to allow the chocolate to pass through but also able to pipe the filling into the brandy snaps.
To finish the brandy snaps, pipe the brandy snap shells full of the ricotta filling and then dip one of the ends into the chopped hazelnuts. The brandy snaps are best enjoyed on the day of making, however the ricotta filling will keep for up to 2 days in the fridge and the shells can be kept in an airtight container for up to a week.
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