Cashew nut & cocoa nib snaps

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These biscuits, which are a cross between brandy snaps and florentines, are incredibly easy and quick to make, with a batch made and ready to eat in under 30 minutes.

The snaps are perfect eaten just as they are, or served with coffee or tea after a meal. They also make excellent edible gifts.

About the recipe

I have taken what is essentially a standard brandy snap mixture (cue my barely-holding-together cookery book from the 70s!) and added cocoa nibs and crushed cashews.

The slight bitterness from the cocoa nibs is a perfect foil to the sweetness of the rest of the biscuit. I have also added some sea salt to pep things up a notch: think salted caramel!

You can drizzle melted chocolate over the top of them or dip them in chocolate, either coating one side (as per florentines) or just dipping part of the snaps into the chocolate.

Other flavours

There are so many flavour variations and you can go as simple, flavour-wise, or as elaborate as you want. Other favourites of mine include:

  • crushed coffee beans in place of the cocoa nibs (or a mixture of coffee beans and cocoa nibs)
  • the finely grated zest of a large orange
  • finely chopped dried cherries or other dried fruit
  • different nuts: walnuts are especially great if using coffee bean, but pistachios, macadamias, peanuts….
  • 1 teaspoon dried chilli (chipotle chilli flakes are wonderful here)
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon or ginger

NB: if adding dried fruit, as per florentines, you get a chewier biscuit: absolutely delicious.

Recipe: cashew nut & cocoa nib snaps – makes about 40

  • 60g unsalted butter
  • 60g golden syrup
  • 60g dark muscovado or any brown sugar
  • 60g plain flour
  • 40g cocoa nibs
  • 40g cashews, chopped (you can toast them gently first if you want a more pronounced flavour or leave them as they are)
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt, crushed

To finish:

  • about 50g melted dark, milk or white chocolate

(1) Preheat the oven to 160C(fan)

(2) Put the butter, syrup and sugar in a small pan over a low heat until the butter has melted and the sugar has dissolved. You don’t need it to simmer but if it does start to simmer that is fine. Remove from the heat and stir in the remaining ingredients mixing well to give a soft paste.

NB: you can now either use the mixture immediately or else leave it to cool, by which stage it will set to a dough-like consistency, put into an airtight container and keep in the fridge for several weeks.

(3) Take about half a teaspoon at a time, roll into small balls and place well apart on a baking sheet. Flatten out roughly using wet fingers: they will flatten more as they bake, going very thin.

NB: alternatively, place the paste onto a sheet of baking parchment and place a sheet of parchment on top. Roll out the paste fairly thinly to a rough rectangle and peel off the top layer of parchement. Pop the rolled out mixture, along with the baking parchemnet it is on onto a baking tray. When this bakes it will thin out and spread further, and you can cut out shapes from it.

(4) Bake for 9 minutes, turning the tray around after about 7 minutes if your oven is prone to hot spots: they should look lacey and be bubbling. Remove from the oven and stand for about a minute to firm up ever-so-slightly until they can be moved easily to a wire rack with a palette knife.

You can press a circular cutter over them to give perfect circles, but the rustic look is, I think, quite charming. If some of them have melded together, run a knife between them before transferring them to the cooling rack or simply snap them apart once cooled.

NB: if you are cutting out shapes, do so after a minute of letting them rest, working fairly quickly so the biscuits don’t firm up too much. If they do become too firm to cut easily, pop the tray back in the warm oven for a minute or two to soften up. The off-cuts you get when cutting out shapes are wonderful as tasters, or break them into smaller pieces and mix with melted chocolate, perhaps a few chopped dried cherries, for mini crispy chocolate bites.

(5) Let the snaps cool fully on the wire rack before drizzling over some chocolate.


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