Monday, October 24, 2016
Brandy Snap Cannolis
When I first made the two-year baking calendar for the Alpha Bakers, these cannoli were somewhere in the first three months. Might as well get them over with, I thought. But then I kept rearranging the list, and the cannolis kept going further down. Until finally there was no escaping it. Still, I thought to myself, this may turn out better than you think. After all, the Meringue Twigs turned out to be fairly presentable. And the Pink Pearl Lady looked a little weird, but it was good. The more I looked at this cannoli recipe, though, the more I sensed disaster ahead. Sadly, my prognosticating powers were all too accurate. After hours of hard labor, I ended up with one moderately acceptable cannolo (honestly, that is the singular of cannoli). Everything else went to the squirrels (who seemed quite delighted with the unexpected treat).
In fairness, making the batter for the brandy snaps was, well, a snap. Just heat up some butter, sugar, and golden syrup.
And then add flour, whisking until the flour is completely mixed in. Then pour onto prepared baking sheets.
The batter spread a lot (I may have made the cookies too big), and I only got five on the first sheet, so I switched to the bottom of a half-sheet pan. Big mistake. The cookies on the cookie sheet turned out fine.
But something about the makeup of the half-sheet pan didn't agree with the makeup of the brandy snap, and the cookies refused to crisp. They refused to harden, although they seemed to be done. Finally I scooped them up, turned them into a gooey brown ball, divided the ball into six pieces, and smashed them onto a cookie sheet.
The dark brown, lumpy ones below are the snaps that didn't work out. At this point, I was still relatively optimistic that I could rescue at least some of the cannoli. I figured I could just put more powdered sugar on the thick, lumpy ones, and, after all, half of them looked more or less like what they were supposed to look like.
Also, I was pretty proud of myself for figuring out that Rose's mini rolling pin would make the perfect sized dowel.
And for finding the same-sized pestle from a marble mortar and pestle set that served to keep the opening in the cannoli round while they cooled and hardened.
But here's where things really started to fall apart. First, the pastry cream didn't thicken.
It was completely liquid, even though I used the correct amount of egg and cornstarch (I checked). I thought it might thicken as it cooled, but it didn't. Not at all. I thought the mascarpone and whipped cream would make the filling thick enough if I just added a little pastry cream, but the entire mixture was still very thin.
I squeezed as much liquid from the dried fruit mixture as I could, and I didn't add the Grand Marnier, because the filling just didn't look thick enough to work in a pastry tube. Actually, I was so dismayed at how everything was turning out that I forgot to be worried about the fact that I was going to have to use a pastry tube.
I picked a smallish pastry tip because I thought maybe the not-very-dense filling would work better coming through a small tip. Alas, what happened is that the fruit got stuck in the pastry tip and nothing came out. Refusing to believe I couldn't somehow rescue this, I grabbed another tip and another bag, and I sloshed as much filling as I could from one bag to the other. Daubs of white filling flew all over the kitchen. I ordered Jim to put his camera down--"I don't want a record of this," I said.
And that, dear reader, is how there came to be one cannolo on a plate and why the squirrels are now begging at our back door. Jim said it was pretty good. I didn't even want to taste it.