Friday 25 November 2005

cook·ie swap

Is My Blog Burning – Sugar High Friday Cookie-swap Party virtual cookie swap thanks to the Domestic Goddess and Alberto of Il Forno! Well this is something I have been looking forward to - taking part in a food blog event - hooray!

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
Dark chocolate
Walnut halves

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.


Anonymous said...

Your Afghan Biscuits look DELICIOUS! Never heard of them before, but Iwill definitely be making them soon!

Anonymous said...

Confession time - I made a batch of Afghans...and ate them all in one sitting. Definitely posting this as anon.

Anonymous said...

I made afghans for Waitangi Day yesterday, to take into work to share with my mainly Scottish workmates, who have never heard of afghans, let along Waitangi Day. I used the Edmonds recipe, tried and true, and they looked very like your ones. I think more Kiwis overseas should make and share afghans, and get them out there, as they are truly a wicked biscuit! Still trying to find out how they started off, though. My workmates asked me, and I didn't have the foggiest.

Anonymous said...

Just wanted to say that I too took afghan biscuits into work for Waitangi Day (as I do each year) - I've lived in London for the past 7 years - and once again they were a huge success. Have to confess though I didn't have any cornflakes to hand so used branflakes instead and they worked just as well. Have just had to type up the recipe so that others could have a go at making them. Wish I knew why they were called Afghans though!

eefa said...

I came across your blog entry while searching for an appetizing photo of Afghan biscuits for my own Afghan biccie post. I've only recently moved to NZ and so these biscuits are new to me, but what can I say - they're scrumptious!

Anonymous said...

In the late 19th and early 20th centuries Alice Springs in the centre of Australia relied on camel trains to supply it's needs. There was none but rudimentary road and no railway. Alice Springs was an important telegraph relay station. Camels (Dromidary single humped) were imported of course from the Middle Eastern countries. Many camel drivers were imported also. They came from both Afghanistan and Pakistan but were all called "Ghans" short for Afghan. The trainhat runs between Adelaide in South Australia and Alice Springs is also called The Ghan in memory of those drivers. In the 1940s a cook book called "The Edmonds Cook Book" was published. It was a very popular book throughout Australia and New Zealand. One of it's recipes was a biscuit (cookie) called "Afghans". An afghan cookie was a thickish chocolate cookie base onto which a rich dark chocolate icing was spread just over the top of the base. On top of this dark chocolate icing a half walnut kernel was placed. I never questioned why they called afghans, afghans until I learned about the Ghans. The cookie base is the dark tanned body. The dark chocolate icing the darker hair. And the walnut kernel was the turban.

I heart cupcakes said...

I am definitely going to try your recipe for afghan biscuits. Until yesterday I'd never heard of them but tried one in a bakery in London and it was fantastic!
And thanks to this blog, and comments, for helping me find out why its called an afghan biscuit!

Henry said...

Nice ANZAC bikkies Emma :D

Christina said...

Just made these all the way over in Canada! Funny how much you miss NZ baking when you are away from home. They went down very well here!