Brandy Snaps | The Shawshank Redemption

The Shawshank Redemption is one of the best films of all time. That isn’t even just my opinion: this film is still IMDb’s highest rated film ever. STILL. My The Shawshank Redemption brandy snaps are a cracking treat for a Shawshank viewing. Let’s tunnel in.

About the film:

Released in 1992, The Shawshank Redemption presents the story of two convicts who build their friendship over the course of their sentences at Shawshank Prison. Andy Dufresne, a former banker, played excellently by Tim Robbins, is wrongfully (if you’ve seen the film, I will leave this up to you to decide on this) convicted of murder. As a result, he is sent to Shawshank to carry out his sentence.

We watch Andy’s life unravel and experience along with him how he deals with his new life in the jailhouse.

He works to befriend a number of fellow prisoners, but it is when he meets and connects with a specific long-term prisoner that we begin to see the levels of compassion and later, redemption that these characters show. This fellow prisoner goes by the name of Red and was played by the superb Morgan Freeman.

Their relationship develops over the course of several years, as the film progresses. We travel through Andy’s story, witnessing both the extreme lows and the heart-warming moments that are found mostly with Red. 

Their desire for redemption is palpable. As is their desire for escape.

The Shawshank Redemption is based on the works of Stephen King and is written by Frank Darabont, with Darabont also at the director’s helm. It stars a multitude of talent, including the likes of Bob Gunton, Clancy Brown, William Sadler, Gil Bellows, Mark Rolston, James Whitmore, Jeffrey DeMunn, Larry Brandenburg, Neil Giuntoli, Brian Libby, David Proval, Joseph Ragno, Jude Ciccolella and Paul McCrane.

The performances are second to none in this film. Truly exquisite. The story sucks you in, gets you invested and keeps a hold of you right until the last second.

I say this in every post but seriously, if you haven’t seen this film, please watch it. 

The Shawshank Redemption is what cinema is all about. It’s a film with such heart and compassion and thought-provoking energy. Don’t be afraid to give it a go, even if it doesn’t necessarily sound like your cup of tea. After all…

“Fear can hold you prisoner. Hope can set you free.”

Trust me on this one. It’ll stay with you.

About the bake:

Now, Flavour of the Film will always be devoid of spoilers. There’s nothing worse for a film and TV fanatic than for something to be spoiled. Whether that something be a plot twist, an Easter egg or an ending.

With that being said, The Shawshank Redemption is like Good Will Hunting in that doesn’t necessarily promote creative inspiration in the way of baked goods. Thus, I chose to base it on something that the entire film builds up to. It’s not necessarily a spoiler, especially as the film is over twenty years old.

Nonetheless, I won’t say what the event in the film that inspired me is.

All I will say is what the elements of the bake represent. So, if you have seen the film, you’ll know exactly what they reflect. If you haven’t, then you’ll be even more intrigued and subsequently motivated to watch the film (I hope).

I chose brandy snaps for their shape.

I wanted to make something that could represent a tunnel. Or, the iconography of a tunnel, at least. For those who don’t know, a brandy snap is a sweet crispy treat made from rich ingredients. It tastes a little like it has a caramel base to it. 

There is no actual brandy in brandy snaps. The treat itself can be eaten as is or eaten filled with whipped cream, as I have done in this recipe. You see, the whipped cream represents the inside of the tunnel.

The story starts with Andy clinging to a container of alcohol, so it made sense to incorporate some into the bake. That’s why I put brandy into the whipped cream. Not much brandy but just enough to give it that warming depth of flavour. It is not remotely necessary to include alcohol to complete the bake so by all means, leave it out if it’s not for you.

I then created a lemon flavoured shortbread that I fashioned into tiny rock hammers. Lemon because… well, when life gives you lemons… 

Plus, I wanted to make this bake a little interactive. When eating a brandy snap, you use the shortbread rock hammer to dig out some of the whipped cream centre to eat and then you finish the brandy snap. Fun, right?

I cut the rock hammers out freehand using a small knife but you can use a template to help if you wish. I also added a dash of black food colouring as the dough was coming together. This way they give a sort of marbling effect and look more like used rock hammers that have been worn down over time. 

The recipe for the actual brandy snaps are inspired by a classic Mary Berry recipe. I changed it slightly by using dark brown sugar instead of light brown sugar because I wanted a richer taste to go with the brandy in the whipped cream, and also because I wanted a slightly darker colour in the finish of the brandy snaps.

If preferred, go with a light brown sugar. I just really love dark brown sugar and the deep taste that it provides.

I also adapted the method when it came to the shaping step. When it came to the width of the brandy snaps, I wanted them to resemble tunnels more than anything. Mary recommends oiling a wooden spoon handle to help shape the brandy snaps, but I used a rolling pin. It worked out great.

The key with brandy snaps is to work fast.

Once out of the oven, you need to let them harden slightly for a moment and then shape them before they start to cool. Speed is of the essence here! If you wait too long or faff around, you risk your brandy snaps hardening before you can shape them.

You can definitely put them back in the oven for a few moments to soften them again, but you risk burning. There are a lot of sugar elements in brandy snaps so accidentally burning is certainly possible. For this reason, I really suggest just working as fast as possible. Don’t rely on the fact that you can put them back in the oven. I’d say it’s more of a last resort!

Top Tips:

  • Avoid over working the shortbread. An over worked biscuit can result in a tough biscuit.
  • Do not let your brandy snap mix boil when in the pan. It can crystallise.
  • It is easier to bake one tray at a time. That way you’re not rushing to shape all eight brandy snaps in one go.
  • Work quickly to shape the brandy snaps around the rolling pin. They will be hot to hold at first but they are unlikely to burn you.

These brandy snaps are deliciously sweet and rich (and are easily made alcohol free!). Despite the crunchiness of them, they would make excellent movie viewing treats. I would recommend using a spoon rather than eating them by hand. The cream, after all, bursts through all the little holes on the first chomp.

Happy baking, happy eating!

Ingredients:

Shortbread:

  • 50g [1.75 oz] unsalted butter room temperature
  • 25g [2 tbsp] golden caster sugar
  • 75g [¼ cup + 3 tbsp] plain [all-purpose] flour
  • 1 tsp lemon extract

Brandy snaps:

  • 55g [2 oz] unsalted butter
  • 55g [¼ cup] dark brown sugar
  • 55g [2 tbsp + 2 tsp] golden syrup
  • 50g [¼ cup + 1 tbsp] plain [all-purpose] flour
  • ½ tsp ground ginger
  • ½ tsp fresh lemon juice
  • Oil of your choice (I used olive) for greasing

Whipped cream filling:

  • 300ml [11.25 oz] double [whipping] cream
  • 2 tbsp icing [confectioners/powdered] sugar
  • 12ml or ½ a single shot of brandy optional

Serves: 8

Preparation time: 30 minutes

Chilling time: 1 hour

Baking time: 30 minutes

Method:

Shortbread:

  1. Make the shortbread first as it needs to chill. Cream together the butter and sugar until pale and fluffy. Add the lemon extract, then the flour and mix. Add the food colouring just as your dough is beginning to form and work into it, making sure the dough is mostly grey.
  2. Prepare a baking tray by lining it with greaseproof paper or baking parchment.
  3. Tip the dough out onto a clean and floured surface and roll out until around ½ inch in thickness. 
  4. Cut out your rock hammer shapes using a small sharp knife and template if preferred. Place each biscuit on the baking tray.
  5. Keep gathering the dough, rolling it out and cutting out the shapes until you have used up the dough.
  6. Place the baking tray in the fridge for at least 1 hour.
  7. Whilst your biscuits are chilling, make your brandy snap mix.

Brandy snaps:

  1. Preheat your oven to 180°C [350°F] or 170°C fan. Line two baking trays with greaseproof paper or baking parchment and set aside.
  2. Set aside a cooling rack. Grease a rolling pin with oil (I used olive) and lay on the rack for now.
  3. Weigh out the butter, then the sugar, then the golden syrup on top in a metal saucepan. You should end up with 165g worth of ingredients in the one pot. 
  4. Place the pot over a low to medium heat and warm through until the sugar has dissolved. Stir regularly. You’ll know the sugar has fully dissolved when you scrape a spoon across the bottom of the pan and no longer hear a gritty sound. Do not let the mixture boil as it could crystallise.
  5. Once the sugar has dissolved, take the mixture off the heat and leave to cool for 2 minutes. 
  6. Sieve the flour and ginger over the mixture and add the lemon. Stir in, mixing really well.
  7. Pour 4 heaped tablespoons in individual splodges on one baking tray, with 4 or so inches gap between them as they will spread. Repeat on the next baking tray so that you have 8 brandy snap splodges in total, across the 2 baking trays.

Baking brandy snaps:

  1. Bake just 1 tray for around 8 – 12 minutes. This fully depends on how hot your oven runs: mine only took 8 minutes. They will be ready when they are well spread and a very deep golden colour. 
  2. Once baked, remove from the oven and leave for one moment to harden slightly. 
  3. Use a fish slice to check the texture of the brandy snaps are solid but pliable enough to shape. Slide it under the edges and make sure the brandy snaps are together but still soft enough to mould. If any of the brandy snaps have melted together at the edges, use the fish slice to gently slice them apart.
  4. Using your fish slice, gently lift one brandy snap from the tray and mould it gently around the oiled rolling pin. Press the seal underneath the rolling pin and hold for a few seconds. Slide off the rolling pin and lay on the wire rack, seal down, to cool.
  5. Repeat for the other brandy snap mixes.
  6. Repeat steps 15 to 18 with the second tray of brandy snap splodges.
  7. Whilst the brandy snaps are cooling, bake your shortbreads.

Baking shortbread:

  1. Turn your oven up to 190°C [375°F] or 180°C fan and bake your rock hammer biscuits for 12 – 15 minutes until crisp.
  2. Leave the biscuits to cool on the tray.
  3. Make your whipped cream filling. 
  4. Whip the cream with an electric whisk until you have stiff peaks. Add sugar and brandy (if using) and whisk in briefly.
  5. Once the brandy snaps are cool, pipe the whipped cream into the middle of each one using a piping bag – or sandwich bag with a corner snipped off – and a nozzle of your choice. Do this by piping halfway into the brandy snap on one end, starting from the middle and working out. Then turn the brandy snap around and repeat for the other end so that each brandy snap is full.
  6. Present your brandy snaps with the accompanying rock hammer biscuits. Enjoy digging the whipped cream out with your biscuits!

These wonderfully rich and decadent brandy snaps are best eaten on the day but can be kept in the fridge for up to 2 days. If making the brandy snaps without the cream filling, they can be kept in an airtight container for up to 1 week after baked. Enjoy!

Recipe card:

Brandy Snaps | The Shawshank Redemption

Laura – Flavour of the Film
Deliciously sweet brandy snaps filled with a brandy whipped cream, accompanied by lemon shortbread, celebrating The Shawshank Redemption.
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Chilling time 1 hour
Total Time 2 hours
Course Dessert
Servings 8

Ingredients
  

Shortbread:

  • 50 g [1.75 oz] unsalted butter room temperature
  • 25 g [2 tbsp] golden caster sugar
  • 75 g [¼ cup + 3 tbsp] plain [all-purpose] flour
  • 1 tsp lemon extract

Brandy snaps:

  • 55 g [2 oz] unsalted butter
  • 55 g [¼ cup] dark brown sugar
  • 55 g [2 tbsp + 2 tsp] golden syrup
  • 50 g [¼ cup + 1 tbsp] plain [all-purpose] flour
  • ½ tsp ground ginger
  • ½ tsp fresh lemon juice
  • Oil of your choice I used olive for greasing

Whipped cream filling:

  • 300 ml [11.25 oz] double [whipping] cream
  • 2 tbsp icing [confectioners] sugar
  • 12 ml or ½ a single shot of brandy optional

Instructions
 

  • Make the shortbread first as it needs to chill. Cream together the butter and sugar until pale and fluffy. Add the lemon extract, then the flour and mix. Add the food colouring just as your dough is beginning to form and work into it, making sure the dough is mostly grey.
  • Prepare a baking tray by lining it with greaseproof paper or baking parchment.
  • Tip the dough out onto a clean and floured surface and roll out until around ½ inch in thickness.
  • Cut out your rock hammer shapes using a small sharp knife and template if preferred. Place each biscuit on the baking tray.
  • Keep gathering the dough, rolling it out and cutting out the shapes until you have used up the dough.
  • Place the baking tray in the fridge for at least 1 hour.
  • Whilst your biscuits are chilling, make your brandy snap mix.
  • Preheat your oven to 180°C [350°F] or 170°C fan. Line two baking trays with greaseproof paper or baking parchment and set aside.
  • Set aside a cooling rack. Grease a rolling pin with oil (I used olive) and lay on the rack for now.
  • Weigh out the butter, then the sugar, then the golden syrup on top in a metal saucepan. You should end up with 165g worth of ingredients in the one pot.
  • Place the pot over a low to medium heat and warm through until the sugar has dissolved. Stir regularly. You’ll know the sugar has fully dissolved when you scrape a spoon across the bottom of the pan and no longer hear a gritty sound. Do not let the mixture boil as it could crystallise.
  • Once the sugar has dissolved, take the mixture off the heat and leave to cool for 2 minutes.
  • Sieve the flour and ginger over the mixture and add the lemon. Stir in, mixing really well.
  • Pour 4 heaped tablespoons in individual splodges on one baking tray, with 4 or so inches gap between them as they will spread. Repeat on the next baking tray so that you have 8 brandy snap splodges in total, across the 2 baking trays.
  • Bake just 1 tray for around 8 – 12 minutes. This fully depends on how hot your oven runs: mine only took 8 minutes. They will be ready when they are well spread and a very deep golden colour.
  • Once baked, remove from the oven and leave for one moment to harden slightly.
  • Use a fish slice to check the texture of the brandy snaps are solid but pliable enough to shape. Slide it under the edges and make sure the brandy snaps are together but still soft enough to mould. If any of the brandy snaps have melted together at the edges, use the fish slice to gently slice them apart.
  • Using your fish slice, gently lift one brandy snap from the tray and mould it gently around the oiled rolling pin. Press the seal underneath the rolling pin and hold for a few seconds. Slide off the rolling pin and lay on the wire rack, seal down, to cool.
  • Repeat for the other brandy snap mixes.
  • Repeat steps 15 to 18 with the second tray of brandy snap splodges.
  • Whilst the brandy snaps are cooling, turn your oven up to 190°C [375°F] or 180°C fan and bake your rock hammer biscuits for 12 – 15 minutes until crisp.
  • Leave the biscuits to cool on the tray.
  • Make your whipped cream filling.
  • Whip the cream with an electric whisk until you have stiff peaks. Add sugar and brandy (if using) and whisk in briefly.
  • Once the brandy snaps are cool, pipe the whipped cream into the middle of each one using a piping bag – or sandwich bag with a corner snipped off – and a nozzle of your choice. Do this by piping halfway into the brandy snap on one end, starting from the middle and working out. Then turn the brandy snap around and repeat for the other end so that each brandy snap is full.
  • Present your brandy snaps with the accompanying rock hammer biscuits. Enjoy digging the whipped cream out with your biscuits!

Notes

These wonderfully rich and decadent brandy snaps are best eaten on the day but can be kept in the fridge for up to 2 days. If making the brandy snaps without the cream filling, they can be kept in an airtight container for up to 1 week after baked. Enjoy!
Keyword brandy snaps, shortbread, the shawshank redemption, whipped cream

© Flavour of the Film. All content and imagery is copyright protected. Please do not use any of my images or written content without prior permission. If you would like to share any of the recipes or images on Flavour of the Film, please link back to the recipe in question and rewrite it in your own words, crediting Flavour of the Film as the original source.