ANZAC Biscuits

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Happy ANZAC Day! ANZAC Day is celebrated on April 25th, but since it's now April 26 in Australia and New Zealand, where ANZAC Day is celebrated, I guess it's no longer ANZAC Day. ANZAC stands for the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps and it's basically the equivalent of Veterans Day in the United States.

The nice thing about the United States, though, is that you'll find that it celebrates just about every holiday in the world because chances are, there's at least a small population of just about every culture here. According to Wikipedia, ANZAC Day is commemorated at the Los Angeles National Cemetery, at Rockefeller Plaza in New York City, in Santa Barbara in California, at the Korean War Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C., and at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific in Hawaii. Phew.

Legend has it that ANZAC biscuits (or cookies, as Americans would call them) came about because military wives wanted to send their soldiers something that would not spoil easily, and these ANZAC biscuits are typically the crunchy type so there's no need to worry about that. Eggs are also omitted because eggs were scarce during World War I. Today, ANZAC biscuits are sold commercially and are often used to raise funds.

I can't remember exactly where I first heard about ANZAC biscuits, but I know it was while I was in the England and was going through my "Australia phase." I think I tried to bake the biscuits while I was in England and I failed somewhat miserably. I think I failed at a lot of my baking endeavors while in England, and now that I think about it, I probably just couldn't figure out how to properly use the ancient oven I was supplied with.

I did buy myself a package of ANZAC biscuits very shortly after arriving in Australia last year, and I was surprised at just how hard/crunchy they were. But they have an undeniably addictive flavor. The original recipe requires golden syrup, which is a supermarket staple in England, so I made sure to buy a bottle to bring home with me when I left England. Golden syrup is hard for me to describe ... I'd say it's a mix of corn syrup and molasses. It has a distinctive, but pleasant, flavor (not as "distinctive" or intense as molasses) and is sweet. If you don't live in a Commonwealth nation or have access to a British grocery store, corn syrup will work just as well (according to my research, the baking time will be slightly shorter if made with corn syrup, and slightly longer if made with maple syrup, so watch your cookies!). My particular bottle of Lyle's Golden Syrup has been sitting around for YEARS, waiting to be made into ANZAC biscuits. Its time to shine has finally come ...

ANZAC Biscuits (adapted from this recipe)
Yields approximately 4 dozen cookies

1 cup of quick cooking oats
1 cup of all-purpose flour
3/4 cup of coconut flakes
1 cup of white sugar (I used 3/4 cups, fearing it'd be too sweet, but it wasn't)
1 stick of butter (or 1/2 cup)
1 tablespoon of golden syrup (or corn/maple syrup ... may alter baking time)
2 tablespoons of boiling water
1 teaspoon of baking soda

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

Mix oats, flour, coconut and sugar together. Over low heat, melt the butter and golden syrup together. In a separate container, mix the boiling water and baking soda together, then add to the melted butter and syrup mixture.

Add the butter mixture to the oats mixture, and scoop out teaspoon-sized balls. On a greased cookie sheet, place the balls about an inch apart and lightly flatten the balls. Bake cookies for 10-12 minutes for slightly chewy cookies, and 13-15 minutes for crunchier cookies. Allow to rest on cookie sheet for 2-3 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool.

These cookies are so, so simple and tasty! They're buttery and slightly coconutty, and pretty crunchy. I prefer the slightly chewier kind myself, but both are welcome in my household. For some reason, I thought for a long time that the biscuit recipe required a lot more golden syrup, but now that I know it doesn't, I foresee lots of batches of ANZAC biscuits in the near future ...

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