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Gluten Free Brandy Snaps – A Christmas tradition
This recipe for Gluten Free Brandy Snaps is long overdue. As a child, they were a definitive family Christmas tradition and were ALWAYS made and ready to be filled when wanted. Even after leaving home, my mother would still make a batch of Brandy Snap cylinders to send me away with after a Christmas visit.
And so it is… A delicious Christmas tradition reinstated for our now Coeliac household… Exactly as remembered. Filled with pillowy whipped cream and with (optional) chocolate-dipped ends… Or made into baskets and topped with cream or mousse and berries. However you choose to eat Brandy Snaps, one thing’s for sure… They’re divine!
What are Brandy Snaps?
Given their beautifully laced surface and delicate crisp texture, you might be forgiven for thinking Brandy Snaps originate in high-end French patisseries. But in fact, they are actually a rather British treat, starting their culinary biscuit journey in the markets and fairs of Yorkshire way back in the 13th Century.
Brandy Snaps have a fairly consistent base recipe of butter, sugar, golden syrup, flour and ginger, all of which are melted and combined before being baked into disks that (while still hot and pliable) can be shaped into cylinders and baskets. These are then filled (usually with cream) and served (often with fruit).
Are Gluten Free Brandy Snaps easy to make?
Although Brandy Snaps have a ‘tricky’ reputation, they are actually pretty easy to make. It is helpful to see the first one or two as ‘practice’ runs… Get a feel for the best pliability of the hot Brandy Snap disks and the method for wrapping them quickly around the circular end of a wooden/silicone spoon (or similar). After this, you’ll find your ‘rhythm’ and technique and will be well on your way.
The key is not to fear the hot baked sugar and to work quickly to mould it before it sets. Having said this, if the disks do firm up too much, a few seconds in the oven and they will be soft and pliable again!
Ingredients for making them
The traditional recipe shared here is based on the one my mother used to make Brandy Snaps (but without the gluten obviously to make them Coeliac safe). To make them you need:
- Butter (of the block variety), or a like-for-like dairy free alternative such as either Stork block or Flora Plant B+tter.
- Soft Light Brown Sugar. This offers a gorgeous caramel flavour and darker colour to the snaps. I also tested the recipe using Demerara Sugar as an alternative, but I found it took longer to dissolve and didn’t seem to ‘lace’ as well on baking.
- Golden Syrup (‘old school’ Lyles brand). Golden Syrup is a very British thing I think. It is possible that it can be subbed for honey, date syrup or similar, but I haven’t tried it, so can’t be sure.
- Plain Gluten Free Flour Blend (with NO added xanthan gum). I’m not sure it matters what brand you use. I tested with my Gluten Free Alchemist home-mixed blends A and B (found on my What is Gluten Free Flour? page) and both were good.
- Ground Ginger for a gently warming spice hit.
- Lemon Juice (or zest) for citrus flavour balance.
- Brandy. Just a drop… Although this ingredient is entirely optional.
Tips to make Brandy Snaps perfect
- Have everything ready before you start… The saucepan, lined baking trays, palette knife (or butter knife), wooden/silicone spoon or similar to shape the Brandy Snaps and a wire rack, so that you have everything you need available.
- Do not let the butter and sugar boil in the pan as this may result in the sugar crystalising.
- Don’t make the cylinders too narrow. Find a really ‘fat’ spoon or use a cannoli mould to shape Brandy Snaps. Why? Because if they are too narrow they are really hard to fill!
- Don’t oil the spoon/mould. It’s not necessary. The butter in the Brandy Snaps ensures they don’t stick.
- Bake in small batches (probably no more than 3 at a time)… a) Because they will spread really big on the baking tray, so need a WIDE gap between them and b) You need to shape them quickly while they are still hot and pliable (and they cool down pretty quick once out of the oven).
- Keep a close eye on them when baking. A few seconds too far and they will start to burn and taste bitter. Every oven is different, so judge by sight: Has the mixture spread well, turned a dark golden colour, with a lacy surface and very slightly darkened edges? Then they’re done!
- If the Brandy Snap disks do become too hard and brittle to shape, pop the tray back in the oven for a few seconds to re-soften.
- Handle Brandy Snaps gently. They are delicate and naturally quite brittle when set.
Chocolate dipped ends for extra decadence
For an extra delicious twist, dip the ends of your gluten free Brandy Snaps in chocolate. Dark, milk or white is fine, but as the Brandy Snaps are quite sweet to start with, dark chocolate makes for a lovely contrast.
Once they are cold and firm, melt the chocolate in a small bowl and simply dip each end before leaving to set on non-stick baking paper.
How to fill and serve Brandy Snaps
If you read my Brandy Snap tips above, you will note that size matters… If the cylinder is too narrow, they are really hard to fill as either the piping end is too fat to insert or the cream/mousse is too thick to move easily along without splitting the fragile biscuit or oozing through the holes.
Either way, you need a piping bag and a nozzle with an appropriate size tip for your snaps (the shape isn’t important). Whip up some cream to soft peaks and then pipe into each of the Brandy Snaps from both ends to fill.
Alternative filling ideas
- Whipped Cream with Vanilla (Chantilly Cream)
- Mascarpone Whipped Cream
- Lemon Mousse (or any other pipeable mousse)
- Baileys (or other liqueur) whipped cream
- Citrus whipped cream
Whatever they are filled with, do not fill the Brandy Snaps until ready to serve and then serve immediately. If left for too long the moisture in the filling reacts with the sugar in the biscuit and it starts to go soggy and disintegrate.
Can I make Gluten Free Brandy Snap Baskets using this recipe?
Yes! How you choose to shape your Brandy Snaps is up to you. To shape the cooked hot disks into baskets, simply mould them over the base of a small flat-bottomed bowl, jam jar, muffin tin or cup.
Then (when ready to serve) fill with whipped cream or mousse and top with berries and fruit for a head-turning dessert.
How long will they last and how should they be stored?
These gluten free Brandy Snaps have been tested to last about 3 to 4 days. They MUST be kept in an airtight container and at room temperature for optimum shelf-life (and to prevent them from softening).
As noted above, fill them just before serving.
Brandy Snaps are NOT suitable for freezing.
My Gluten Free Brandy Snaps Recipe
And that’s it! My Gluten Free Brandy Snaps recipe (and with it our family Christmas tradition) is shared just below for you to enjoy too. If you love them, please let me know… Leave a comment, rate the recipe or tag me on social media (Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest) with your yummy photos.
Need more gluten free dessert inspiration? Head over to my dedicated Gluten Free Desserts and Trifles Index for more delicious recipes. Or start at our main Gluten Free Recipe Index and find your way to all of our makes and bakes from there.
All shared with my love, for free
Gluten Free Brandy Snaps
- Small saucepan
- 65 g unsalted butter block butter (or dairy free alternative)
- 65 g soft light brown sugar
- 65 g golden syrup
- 60 g plain gluten free flour blend with NO xanthan gum
- 1 tsp ground ginger
- ½ tsp lemon juice (or finely grated zest)
- ¾ tsp brandy (optional)
- Preheat the oven to 180 C/170 fan/350 F.
- Line a couple of large baking trays with non-stick baking paper and get ready a wire rack and either a round-handled wooden/silicone spoon (or a similar implement that is suitable to shape tubes about 2 to 2½ cm across).
- Weigh the butter, sugar and golden syrup into a small non-stick saucepan.
- Set the pan over a low heat and stir continually until the butter has melted, the sugar has completely dissolved and the mixture is smooth. Be patient (it will take about 15 minutes) and do NOT let the mixture boil (as this may result in the sugar crystallising).
- Remove from the heat, leave to cool very slightly (2 to 3 minutes) and then sift the flour and ginger into the pan, stirring well to combine.
- Finally, add the lemon juice and brandy (if using) and stir again until the mixture is completely even.
- Set the mixture aside to cool for 10 to 15 minutes so that it thickens enough not to run into an instant puddle. It can be anywhere between a thick paste and a mouldable ‘dough’ to use easily.
- When ready to bake, work with batches of no more than 3 Brandy Snaps at a time as they will spread wide in the oven and need to be shaped quickly when the cooked batter is still soft enough to work with.
- Drop teaspoonfuls of the mixture in 3 approximate circles on the first baking tray, evenly spaced and with a wide gap (approx. 10 cm/4 inch) between them. (If the mixture has firmed up so as to be mouldable, hand-roll each spoonful into a ball and place on the tray, flattening slightly with the palm/fingers).
- Bake for 10 to 15 minutes until the mixture has spread well, turned a dark golden colour, the surface has become lacy in appearance and the edges have started to darken very slightly. Each oven is different, so keep a close eye to avoid them getting burnt.
- Remove the Brandy Snap disks from the oven.
- To shape, the mixture needs to be just firm enough to lift, yet still pliable enough to shape. Lift the edge of the disk with a palette knife/butter knife to check consistency.
- Working quickly (taking care not to burn your fingers), lift one of the disks from the tray and immediately wrap it loosely around the spoon handle, gently pressing the edges over each other and together to form a join.
- Carefully slide the Brandy Snap from the spoon and place it onto the wire rack to cool completely, with the join underneath.
- If the disks harden too much to work with, pop the tray back in the oven for a few seconds to soften them up.
- Repeat the baking and shaping process until all of the mixture has been used. NOTE: when working in batches, prepare the next tray ready to go into the oven when the last one comes out, rotating the trays as they cool.
- Once cold, the Brandy Snaps can be eaten straight away (while at their crunchiest) or can be stored in an airtight container. They should last 3 to 4 days. Pipe-fill with whipped cream or mousse just before serving (as the moisture from the filling will cause the brandy snap to soften and become fragile).
© 2019-2023 Kate Dowse All Rights Reserved – Do not copy or re-publish this recipe or any part of this recipe on any other blog, on social media or in a publication without the express permission of Gluten Free Alchemist
Gluten Free Brandy Snaps shared with
- Fiesta Friday with Angie
- Full Plate Thursday with Miz Helen’s Country Cottage
- What’s for Dinner with The Lazy Gastronome