One of the things I love best about travelling is getting to try foods that are native to a country or region. While I have enjoyed making and eating ANZAC cookies (biscuits) for many years, I knew that tasting them in Australia would be something special and I sought them out shortly after arriving in this gorgeous country last week. These biscuits have an important history – they were devised by the wives and mothers of Australian and New Zealand (ANZAC) soldiers during World War I, as a way to provide a nutritious supplement to their meagre army rations. Because they don’t contain eggs, these biscuits, when packed in airtight tins, were able to survive the long shipping times to reach troops overseas. Initially dubbed Soldiers’ Biscuits, the cookies were renamed ANZAC biscuits after the 1915 landing on Gallipoli, a defining moment in the war for Australia and New Zealand, commemmorated annually on April 25, ANZAC day. While most traditional ANZAC biscuit recipes call for golden syrup or treacle, corn syrup (more readily available in Canada) is a good substitute. Thanks to a delightful woman I met in New South Wales who shared her recipe – and her biscuits – with me.
• 1 cup (250 mL) rolled oats (quick but not instant)
• 1 cup (250 mL) all-purpose flour
• 1 cup (250 mL) white sugar
• 3/4 cup (185 mL) finely flaked coconut
• 1/2 cup (125 mL) butter
• 2 tablespoons (30 mL) golden syrup or corn syrup
• 1/2 teaspoon (2.5 mL) baking soda
• 1 tablespoon (15 mL) boiling water
- Preheat oven to 300F and line three baking trays with parchment paper.
- In a large bowl, combine oats, sifted flour, sugar and coconut.
- In a small saucepan (or microwave-safe bowl), combine butter and golden syrup, stir over low heat just until melted.
- In a small heatproof bowl, combine baking soda with boiling water, then add this to the melted butter mixture.
- Stir the combined liquids into the dry ingredients. Note that the mixture will be quite crumbly – this is ok!
- Use your hands to shape golf ball sized portions of the cookie dough mixture, packing it tightly so it sticks together.
- Place dough balls onto the lined baking trays, leaving two inches (5 cm) between for spreading.
- Place cookie sheets (baking just one sheet at a time) into the preheated oven.
- Bake for 16 – 17 minutes or until golden brown but still very slightly soft in the middle.
- Let cookies cool completely on trays before transferring to airtight containers for storage.
Makes approximately 2 1/2 dozen cookies.