Technically, many brandy snap recipes do not actually have brandy in them. These for example were made with rum….. potAto, potaato. Many have no alcohol at all and they all work just fine… once you get the hang of these crunchy critters.
I like doing this kind of thing around Samhain as they remind me of spiderwebs, hence the name.
Spiders have a strong mythological connection to time and esoteric wisdom. In some traditions this connection to time also means history, memory and past patterns. Once woven into the tapestry of the loom of creation and no longer active as the shuttle works its way back and forth across the strands of life, the Weaver remembers and as Samhain approaches and the veil between thins once more, this is an excellent time to join Her in that remembering.
For the “brandy snaps” you will need:
1/4 cup butter
1/4 cup brown sugar
2 Tbsp. maple syrup
1 tsp. lemon zest and you can use orange as well
1 – 1 1/2 tsp spice, more on that below
1 Tbsp. rum
5 Tbsp. flour
Deep breath in and hold for a moment, release, repeat. “Spinning your magic with glittering strands. I work with like power through loving hands. A home and a hearth I hold here in Love, with you at my window ensconced above. Wisdom, protection, I ask you to share. I return blessings that well may you fare. Grandmother Weaver please act as my guide, as forth on my journey I stumble and stride. Show me sight true, that clear I might see, with harm to none So Mote It Be” Begin..
I have made these with cinnamon and ginger and pumpkin pie spice and I think the real question to help you decide is, ” what filling am I putting inside?”.
I used 1 teaspoon of ginger and am happy with the flavour but that might be too much for another persons pallet.
Now comes the fun part. If you have not made these before or it has been awhile, I would suggest that the supplies for making a second batch be available. That is not to say they are difficult but they do require watching and if you get pulled away, as I did, and don’t set the timer, as I didn’t, it is very possible to loose focus and burn the first tray in the oven, as I did.
Drop by tablespoon fulls onto an ungreased cookie sheet. I would suggest that you do not do more than four cookies at a time and definitely fewer on the first run through. You might also need to spread them out with the back of the spoon a little bit.
The colour of your tray will make a difference in the baking time. Dark trays will bake product more quickly. Your oven may have a slightly different temperature so the length of time needed to bake might need adjusting by a minute or two and these are cookies that you can loose with a minute too long in the oven.
Other things can affect the baking time as well. If for example you were to substitute honey for the maple syrup you will find the cookies spread more and the baking time will shorten. Remember that once the tray comes out of the oven, the cookies will continue baking.
Try for darker edges with a little lightness still in the center.
These were baked at 350 degrees for 5 minutes and then left to sit out for 90 seconds before taking them off the cookie tray.
You want them to be hard enough to hold their shape and soft enough to be able to affect their shape. If the cookies get too hard, it is possible to put them back in the oven for a short time to “resoften” the cookie before trying again.
I used a wide handled whisk to roll the cookies around but anything that will give you a 3/4 – 1 inch center will do the job. Once each cookie is rolled allow to cool and harden.
Refill the cookie tray and bake the next batch. This recipe gave me nine cookies and they will store in an airtight container for over a week, so this is something you can do in advance and then leave the filling till just before serving if you want your spiderwebs crisp or about an hour before serving, if you would like them a little softer.
For the pumpkin cheesecake filling you will need:
4 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
1/4 cup pure maple syrup
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 cup plain Greek yogurt
6 Tbsp. pumpkin puree
1 cup whipped cream (already whipped)
Place the unwhipped whipping cream in a container and beat until firm peaks appear.
Fold the whipped cream into the pumpkin mixture and cool for at least one hour. Over night will not harm it all.
Just before serving, pipe filling into the cookie. A piping bag is helpful. You can pipe from both ends or hold the cookie vertically so the mousse will continue to fall further into the cookie as you continue to pipe. Just make sure you keep an eye on what is happening at the other end.
In my original recipe I used double the amount of Greek yoghurt before I realized I didn’t need to make the full batch. I found it too soft (as you can see below) and too tangy for my taste so I cut the yoghurt in half in the recipe above.
If you are celebrating Samhain or Día de Muertos together as a family, here is a suggestion for taking these treats to another level.
Cut little strips of rice paper in 1/2 inch by 2 1/2 inch strips or there about. Using a food colouring edible marker, write the name of an ancestor at one end. If the name comes up more than once in order to put a name in each dessert, that is absolutely fine.
Just before serving, gently push the strip into the filling, leaving the name outside the filling as a tag. Place the filled spider webs with the names upside down on a serving plate so that no one can see who they are choosing. (I used black here so you could see the names in the picture but ideally, use a yellow or something light.)
Have everyone tell a story or something they remember about the person they chose. It does not have to be personal experience, it can be a retelling of a family legend or an acknowledgement of an heirloom or physical trait received, or just a funny story that has become part of your family’s memories.
Samhain is a fire festival. In native traditions Grandmother Spider is credited with bringing fire and sun to the people, making Her stories quite apropos for this time of the year. Her adventures teach, determination and preparedness through the skills of pottery and weaving.
In other traditions, She teaches that each of us has a place in the loom of creation and that each choice we make is important.
Pumpkin Cheesecake Mousse wrapped in Crunchy Spiderwebs from My Kitchen Wand