Have you ever read any of Rose Levy Beranbaum’s work? Well, you should. She is an accomplished baker and writer with several books to her name, the seminal work being The Cake Bible. She’s also written books on pie, bread, cookies, and general baking, and I own almost all of them. I love all her books and reference them regularly, but this time of year I am especially into Rose’s Christmas Cookies. The book is full of old-fashioned, elegant recipes, a million thoughtful tips to ensure success, and even has such categories as “Cookies for Giving” and “Cookies for Sending.” Basically, what I’m saying is that Rose Levy Beranbaum knows what’s up when it comes to holiday baking (and all baking, for that matter).
In the section “Cookies for Holiday Dinner Parties,” she has a recipe for Brandy Snaps Filled with Whipped Cream. They are absolutely stunning–ginger-spiced lacy cookies rolled like cigars and filled with whipped cream. Who wouldn’t want one? Well, children probably. Nothing tastes worse in little mouths than a hint of booze. And I don’t like brandy either. But I do love lacy cookies and whipped cream, so I decided to make a non-alcoholic version of a classic. I rummaged around our fridge looking for something, anything that could work in place of brandy and, lo and behold, we had a half gallon of freshly pressed apple cider. And while apple cider may say autumn to many, it says Christmas to me. These cookies start by cooking butter, golden syrup, brown sugar, apple pie spices, and salt until they come to a boil. Then the mixture is removed from the heat so flour and apple cider can be stirred in. Drop tablespoons of dough onto a baking sheet lined with parchment or a silicone baking mat, lest they become stuck to the pan. These spread about four inches, so there shouldn’t be many on the sheet. I have a tiny apartment oven, so I can do four at a time on two sheet pans. Bake these for 7-10 minutes at 350F, until they are lightly browned and are still flexible. For me, this is almost exactly 7 minutes–any longer and they become difficult to roll. They should not wrinkle when lifted. Speaking of lifting, don’t even think about it without a thin spatula in hand. I use a small offset icing knife with good results.
Now, you must work quickly here. Remove cookies from the sheet pan one at a time and immediately roll them around the handle of a wooden spoon or dowel. Press the edges to seal them. Then, slide the rolled cookie off of the handle and set aside to cool on a rack while you complete the rest. I recommend wearing rubber gloves while you do this, as the cookies will be very hot. The rolled cookies are filled with whipped cream. And while plain whipped cream would be just fine, why not jazz it up a bit? This cream is flavored with an extra little bit of apple cider, just to really drive home the apple flavor. Use a piping bag fitted with a tip to fill each cookie. The whipped cream will start to liquefy again after a little while, so don’t fill these until right before you are ready to serve.
While these cookies are simple, they aren’t easy, but they are worth all the effort. This time of year, it’s so easy to look for shortcuts in all the busyness, but there is something to be said for taking the time to make something the old-fashioned way. I highly recommend spending a little time making these crispy, crunchy, cream-filled cookies with notes of caramel and apple cider. As Ms. Beranbaum says, these cookies would be a sweet ending to a holiday dinner party. Your family and friends will certainly appreciate them.
Looking for more holiday cookies? See my Whipped Shortbread Snowballs, Eggnog Sandwich Cookies, and Red Velvet Peppermintdoodles. Stay tuned for eight more recipes during the Twelve Days of Cookies! Apple Cider Snaps
adapted from Brandy Snaps Filled with Whipped Cream in Rose’s Christmas Cookies by Rose Levy Beranbaum
makes two dozen cookies
10.5 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
2/3 cup Lyle’s Golden Syrup*
1/4 cup light brown sugar*
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
1/8 teaspoon ground ginger
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon Kosher or sea salt
1 cup all purpose flour
4 teaspoons freshly pressed apple cider
Cider Whipped Cream:
2 cups heavy cream
1 tablespoon light brown sugar
1 tablespoon freshly pressed apple cider
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Preheat the oven to 350F. Line two sheet pans with parchment paper or silicone baking mats. Set aside.
Make the cookies. In a heavy bottomed saucepan, combine butter, golden syrup, brown sugar, cinnamon, allspice, ginger, nutmeg, and salt. Stir over medium-high heat just until it comes to a boil. Remove the pot from the heat and immediately stir in the flour, followed by the apple cider. Drop tablespoons of the dough onto the baking sheets, leaving ample room for them to spread (at least four inches). Place the pot of dough in a bowl of hot water to keep it fluid. Bake cookies for 7-10 minutes, rotating the pans top-to-bottom and front-to-back at 3 minutes. When the cookies are light golden brown and lacy, remove the pans from the oven. Let cool one minute.
Working quickly, use a small flexible spatula to remove each cookie, and gently wrap it around the handle of a wooden spoon or a 1″ dowel. Press the outer seam to hold the shape. Remove the rolled cookies to a rack to cool completely. Repeat until all dough is used.
Make the Cider Whipped Cream. With an electric mixer, beat cream and brown sugar just until the mixer starts to leave defined marks in the cream. Add apple cider and vanilla, and continue to whip the cream until fluffy. Place it in a piping bag with a tip. Immediately before serving, pipe whipped cream into rolled cookies on each end. Serve immediately.
Un-filled rolled cookies keep covered at room temperature for up to 24 hours. Whipped cream will keep in the refrigerator for up to two days, but will need to be lightly whipped before piping.
1. Light corn syrup may be substituted.
2. Dark brown sugar may be substituted in both the cookies and the whipped cream.