There are so many cookies, or biscuits that I love to make. There are chocolate-chip, almond, peanut butter, afghan, jammy dodger, muesli and ANZAC . . .
But for this occasion I think that I will choose two special biscuits or cookies. One that I believe is particular to New Zealand - the Afghan - and one that is shared between New Zealand and Australia - the ANZAC biscuit.
No-one seems to know why the Afghan biscuit is called an Afghan biscuit. Is it because of the walnut half pressed into the chocolate coating that is reminiscent of an afghani hat? Is it because these biscuits were invented by one of our Great-Grandmothers to send to her Beau posted to Afghanistan in the First or Second World Wars? Or was it that a handsom Afghani gentleman made his way to our far shores and made such an impression on baking day that a biscuit was created in his honour. I suppose we will never know. But the afghan lives on.
One can buy packets of mass-produced afghans, or one can spend a bit more and buy "home-made" afghans from a gourmet grocer, one can even refer to the Edmonds cookery book that we got when we first left home, or one can use the recipe that your mother gave you over the phone when you first felt homesick enough to make them in your flat. This is the recipe I use, albeit with a few modifications that I feel reflect the next generation of Afghan biscuit bakers.
This is my recipe for Afghan biscuits :
175g of butter
1/2 cup of caster sugar
3 tablespoons of cocoa
1 1/4 cups of flour
2 cups of cornflakes
Melt the butter, sugar and cocoa in a saucepan large enough to hold all the ingredients. Stir in teh flour and cornflakes, mixing well. Form into biscuit shapes, pressing the mixture together as you go. Bake at 180° for 10 minutes or until they are set.
Melt the chocolate and spread on the biscuits and press a walnut half onto each one.
ANZAC means a soldier from New Zealand or Australia and stands for A(ustralian and) N(ew) Z(ealand) A(rmy) C(orps). When our great-grandfathers were away fighting in World War One our great-grandmothers would make these long lasting biscuits to send in care parcels to their men. This is a fabulous example of the ongoing influence of our Scottish ancestors - ANZAC biscuits are cheap to make, nutritious, keep for a long time and taste good. The best time of year to make these biscuits is in April in order to commemorate ANZAC day on the twenty-fifth. This is a recipe that my mother has always made and we always used to have in our lunch boxes for morning tea. Perhaps this is a perfect example of comfort food and nostalgic cooking?
My recipe for ANZAC biscuits is :
125g of butter
2 tablespoons of golden syrup
1 teaspoon of bicarbonate of soda dissolved in 1 tablespoon of hot water
1/2 cup of thread coconut
1/2 cup of caster sugar
1 cup of rolled oats
3/4 cup of flour
Melt the butter and golden syrup in a saucepan large enough to hold all the ingredients. Add the rest of the ingredients and stir well. Bake generous teaspoon sized rounds at 180° for 10 minutes or until golden.