When it comes to Anzac biscuits (or Anzac cookies) , the world is divided into two camps. No, I’m not referring to the Aussie diggers and the New Zealand soldiers.
I’m talking about CHEWY vs. CRUNCHY.
Any Aussie will tell you that you have to pick a side.
But me, I’m a fence-sitter. My perfect Anzac biscuit is crunchy on the outside and chewy in the middle. Like the little girl in the Old El Paso ad who says, “Porque no las dos?” Why not have both?
In case you’re unfamiliar with Aussie history (I was until I immigrated here 12+ years ago), the word Anzac stands for Australian and New Zealand Army Corp. It was initially used to refer to Australian and New Zealand soldiers fighting in World War I, but today, it applies to all Aussie and Kiwi armed forces. Anzac Day on 25 April remembers the soldiers who landed in Gallipoli on 25 April 1915 – yes, this year marks the 100th anniversary.
You know the phrase ‘Necessity is the mother of invention’? The Anzac biscuit is just that. During World War I, when mums and wives sent their sons and husbands “care packages”, these foodstuff had to withstand the long journey across the oceans (no refrigeration!) and not spoil in the process.
Enter the Anzac biscuit – made with ingredients that were long-lasting and tasty to boot. Oaty. Crunchy. Tasty! Notice the lack of eggs in the recipe? This was deliberate: since so many poultry farmers were out fighting in the trenches, eggs were in short supply. So golden syrup was used as the binding agent.
I played with the original version, adding moist coconut flakes for texture, macadamia nuts because they are so Aussie, and melted chocolate to drizzle over as we had too many leftover Easter eggs! But feel free to leave them out. They’re not in the original Anzac biscuit recipe but, I have to say, we all thought they upped the “moreish quotient”.
Here’s my take on Anzac Biscuits
1 cup rolled oats
1 cup plain flour
¾ cup brown sugar
½ desiccated coconut
130g unsalted butter
2 tbsp golden syrup*
½ tsp baking soda
2 tbsp boiling water
¼ cup moist coconut flakes (optional)
½ cup chopped macadamia nuts (optional)
50 g melted chocolate (optional)
Preheat your oven to 170°C.
Line three cookie sheets with baking paper.
In a large bowl, mix together all the dry ingredients. You can choose to add or omit the macadamia nuts and moist coconut flakes here.
In a saucepan, melt the butter and the golden syrup over low heat. *If you do not have golden syrup, you can try honey or maple syrup. I have not tried to make them with either of these, though.
In a separate cup, add the baking soda to the boiling water – it should fizz. Now add this to the melted butter-golden syrup mixture.
Add the wet ingredients to the dry ones. Mix with your hands until it comes together. Shape into balls. Flatten and place onto cookie sheets (5-6 biscuits per sheet). Leave enough space between the biscuits as they will spread.
Bake at 170°C for 10 minutes until golden brown. Or, if you want the crunchier version, just bake for another 3-5 minutes.
Once baked, leave to cool on a wire rack which will allow the Anzac biscuits to crisp up.
Here’s where you get fancy: once cool, drizzle melted chocolate over the cookies – a decadent twist to humble yet oh-so-yummy Anzac biscuit.
So this Anzac Day, on the centenary on the Gallipoli landings, raise your afternoon cuppa to our soldiers and enjoy an Anzac biscuit – or three!
When it comes to Anzac biscuits, which do you prefer: chewy or crunchy? What kind of biscuits do you love to dunk into your cup of tea? Do you have any plans for Anzac Day?