Have you ever been out to an upmarket restaurant, enjoyed a pleasant meal and company, only to then have the waiter present desserts that are architecturally inconceivable, that look too good to eat? Ever wanted to know how they did that stuff? Well, I won't go into the logistics of spun sugar cages, because really, who has the time and energy anymore, but if you want a fairly simply dessert garnish that will simply blow your guests away, then read on.
The mixture used in this recipe is basically a brandy snap mixture that is quickly cooked in the oven, then pressed out so thinly that they end up dissolving in the mouth like some ethereal filigree. They also command some size so once placed on your dessert of choice, it will look for all the world like something you paid 20 bucks for in the swankiest restaurant in town.
There is one caveat however, simple as this recipe may be, you must work quickly once the biscuits come out of the oven. If they get too cool you won't be able to mould them into astonishingly appetizing shapes. Don't be too concerned, because if they do harden too quickly, you can pop them back in the oven for a few seconds to soften.
What to serve them with? Well in all honesty, they will go with most desserts, as they are more of a textural treat than flavour. Be decadent, serve them with the best quality ice cream and fresh, lush berries.
100 gm (3 1/2 oz) unsalted butter
90 gm (2 1/2 Tbs) liquid glucose (available from good cookery stores or maybe your chemist (drugstore))
180 gm (6 oz) caster sugar
90 gm (3 oz) plain flour
Melt the butter and glucose together in a saucepan or the microwave. Mix together the dry ingredients and then fold in the butter mix. Stir until well combined. Place in the refrigerator for a few hours to set. The mix can be made up to this stage and left in the refrigerator for months.
When ready to cook the biscuits, heat your oven to 180 C (360 F). On your largest flat baking tray (sheet), place a piece of non-stick (silicone) paper to fit. Spoon out a tiny bit of the mixture and roll into a ball. It wants to be about the size of an almond. Place these on the baking tray and keep them well spaced. 4 or 6 is probably the maximum at any one time.
Place in the oven and cook for about 6 or 7 minutes. They will have dissolved and flattened out to small discs. They need to be a deep golden colour, so if they are not ready, stick them back in the oven for a minute or two.
Now, here comes the tricky part. Working very quickly, place an identically sized piece of non-stick paper directly over all the cooked biscuits. Keep the biscuits on the baking tray as this will help to keep them hot and workable. Using a cylinder of some sort (an empty drink bottle or straight sided coffee mug) press out each biscuit one at a time until it has at least doubled in surface area. They will be quite thin and translucent, just like glass!
Very gently (they snap easily) lift off the baking tray and store in an airtight container, between sheets of non-stick paper for a day or two. Makes lots and lots, around 70 biscuits.