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Oh, Snap!

These beauties were paired with the rhubarb fool [1] and make a most excellent spoon for scooping up the cream and jam. Brandy snaps are another popular British sweet that doesn’t appear very often on American menus. They’re lovely and often filled with a cream, like tiny delicate cannoli.

Last night Bryan and I had dinner at Hot Chocolate [2], one of the restaurants I recommend eating at in Chicago. The place has been getting a lot of press lately with Mindy Segal’s long-overdue James Beard win (for best pastry chef) and the Time Out story [3] about her closing and reopening of the restaurant, and her personal struggles. The changes to the restaurant were almost imperceptible to me (paint, and some new furniture) and while the menu was slightly updated, it all felt very familiar. Those expecting any substantial changes will be disappointed, but sometimes familiar is nice and the food is as good as ever.

To the point—I chose to participate in their “study”, which is what they are now calling their seasonal composed dessert that focuses on a single ingredient. This month, the ingredient is rhubarb and the plate was impressive. It was an interesting way of exploring a flavor and I found it inspiring. The standouts were the tiny rhubarb and pistachio tart and the warm rice pudding.

Everyone is thinking about rhubarb.

But back to the snaps for a moment. This recipe is pretty standard, with the addition of some pistachios. It is a cookie that I find to be a delicious accompaniment to something else like, ice cream, whipped cream, or a fool. They are simple enough to make and even the forming of them isn’t so bad, it just requires a little patience. The cookies are very delicate, so handle with care. And store them in an airtight container, they don’t like humidity (either do I!).

Brandy Snaps (from A Girl and Her Pig [4] by April Bloomfield)

Combine the sugar, butter, syrup, orange zest, spices and salt in a small pot and bring to a boil over medium-high heat, then immediately remove from the heat. Whisk in the flour and pistachios. Stir in the brandy. The batter will be as thick as peanut butter (the thin, natural kind). Let it cool.

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line a baking sheet with a silpat or parchment. You’ll need to bake the cookies in several batches. Do not bake more than one sheet at a time if you plan on forming them into tubes, you wont be able to work quickly enough.

Spoon on 1/2 tablespoon of the batter for each cookie, leaving a few inches between them— the batter will spread a lot. You should get 6 cookies per sheet. Bake until the cookies are deep golden brown, about 12 minutes. Llet them cool for a minute or two. Use a small thin spatula to gently lift the edges of the cookie and loosen them from the pan. If you want to form tubes, carefully wrap the still warm and pliable cookie around the handle of a wooden spoon to form shape. Allow it to cool for a few seconds before sliding off and repeating. If the cookies start to harden before you have shaped them all, return the pan to the hot oven for 30 seconds to soften.

***In my opinion, there is no a great substitute for Lyle’s, its flavor is pretty unique. If you want to experiment with molasses/corn syrup or honey, let us know how they turn out!