Sunday, August 25, 2013

Chocolate Anzac Biscuits

It's safe to say an Aussie recipe post is in order considering I've been living here for a year now. What?

There are a lot of wild and weird things about this country. Like how about the fact that they have giant palm-sized fuzzy-legged spiders that come into the house, loud swooping birds, loads of sharks and other lethal sea creatures that roam the waters, and funny taste in breakfast food like vegemite and margarine on toast? Yeah... I'm not quite there yet.

You pretty much need a dictionary when you first arrive...

There's lots of "reckon"ing.
Everyone is my mate.
G'day is how I'll greet you in the morning.
When you're ill, you're said to be "crook", not to be mistaken for "a crook". It's not like I rob banks when I'm sick...
Rubbish is garbage.
"Chuffed" means to be excited.
Bloody this! Bloody that!
Knickers replace underwear.
Chips are french fries, crisps are potato chips. CONFUSING!
An Esky is a cooler, the same way "Kleenex" is a tissue.
The bush is where people are from when they're not from the city.
Hotels are usually not hotels, they're pubs.

And Aussies have perfected the art of simplification (aka. laziness) when it comes to vocabulary:

Footy describes a football match, of course.
Spag bol = spaghetti bolognese
No worries is the most used all-around expression to say "No problem", "You're welcome", "Forget about it", "Sure thing", "I can do it", "Yes, I'll take care of that...". Talk about an all-purpose phrase.
How ya goin'? = a hybrid of How are you doing?/How is it going? One size fits all.
"You're alright" is the same as "it's OK", "no problem", "that's OK", in response to someone who excuses themselves or says "sorry".
I need a nap in the arvo means I'll be sleeping in the afternoon. How arvo is short for afternoon, beats the heck outta me...
Uni is short for university.
Homos is Hummus? I think?...

But, when it comes to dessert, there are only a few things that Australians claim their own.

Hedgehog Slice.
White Christmas.
Passionfruit everything...

And most importantly, Anzac Biscuits.

Anzac day is a national day in Australia and New Zealand commemorated every year in honour of the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps (ANZAC) who fought during WWI. These biscuits were created by super awesome wives as rations for the soldiers. If you look closely at the recipe, you'll notice there's no egg! In addition, they are baked dry and crisp making them perfect to send abroad since they keep for a very long time.

For this reason, Anzac biscuits are something Aussies take very seriously, and probably wouldn't be very happy that I've changed them significantly by adding cocoa. I'm sorry, I couldn't help myself.

I mean, I'm not kidding... The term Anzac is actually protected under Australian law and cannot be used in Australia without permission from the Minister for Veterans' Affairs. If its name is misused for commercial purposes, and some food company chooses to sell "Anzac" biscuits that aren't true enough the original recipe, there can be some legal action taken.

All this commotion over a cookie!

OH! Correction. Don't dare ever call it a cookie. It's a biscuit.

So aside from the really serious, legal and political aspects, these biscuits (and you have no idea how bad I want to call them cookies...) are delicious in their own right.

What makes them so tasty? Golden syrup. Corn syrup is not an appropriate replacement so don't go there please. Golden syrup is a more refined version of molasses with the consistency of honey and it has the most lovely, caramelly and butterscotch-like flavour. The closest substitution would have to be maple syrup.

These biscuits (I seriously wrote "cookies" again, jeeeeez), are designed to be crisp and crunchy which I think also warrants the name "biscuit" because us North Americans enjoy a chewy cookie, don't we?

They get this way by the addition of dissolved baking soda which reacts instantly with the other ingredients in the dough and automatically aerates the mixture. Moreover, the lack of egg and simple one-bowl mixing method encourages crunch.

So, if you fancy a crunchy biscuit, give these a go. They are an impeccable mate to your morning or afternoon tea, as perfectly Australian as that sounds.

Chocolate Anzac Biscuits
Makes about 22 biscuits

1 ¼ cups (180 g) all-purpose flour
2 ½ tbsp (15 g) unsweetened cocoa powder, sifted
2/3 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1 cup (100 g) rolled oats
1 cup (85 g) unsweetened shredded coconut
½ cup (113 g) unsalted butter
3 tbsp golden syrup (Lyles golden syrup, or can substitute with maple syrup if you must)
¼ tsp salt
2 tbsp water
¾ tsp baking soda

Preheat oven to 325°F. Line 2 large baking trays with parchment paper.

Whisk together flour and sifted cocoa powder in a large bowl to blend. Add brown sugar and rub it in with your hand until evenly combined and no lumps remain. Stir through oats and coconut.

Stir the butter and golden syrup in a small saucepan over low heat until the butter melts and the mixture is smooth. Stir in water and baking soda. The mixture will froth up quickly. Immediately Add to the oat mixture and stir until well combined.

Roll tablespoonfuls of the mixture into balls and place them on the prepared trays, spacing them about 2 inches apart. Note, the dough will feel oily at first but will feel dry once baked and cooled. Flatten each dough ball with the palm of your hand until about ½ inch thick. Bake for 12-14 minutes until dry. Transfer cookies to a wire rack to cool completely. The will harden as they cool.

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