April 25 is celebrated in Australia and New Zealand, honoring the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps (ANZAC) formed in WWI, and reader friend Vera Scott shared this recipe with me. They’re called biscuits, not cookies (we Anglophiles know this from all the Brit novels we’ve devoured, yes?) and they have an interesting history:
For more than 100 years, the Anzac biscuit has been a taste of home for many Antipodeans, a recipe born from the spirit and sacrifice the ANZACs (Australian and New Zealand Army Corps) made during WW I. Basic army rations included rice, tinned corned beef, and an unpalatable hardtack biscuit so difficult to eat they were described as “one of the most durable materials used in the war, reputed to be bulletproof!” In an effort to boost morale, wives and women’s groups sent troops care packages containing Anzac biscuits. Although the original recipe evolved over time, the biscuits were made of essential pantry ingredients. And because they were bound by golden syrup, rather than eggs (which were scarce, as poultry farmers left to fight overseas), they were hardy enough to survive the two- to three-month journey to soldiers.
For those of us in US, some supermarkets carry golden syrup, but not all do. I was able to order some online, but Bon Appetit magazine suggests substituting 1 part dark Karo and 3 parts honey if you can’t get your hands on golden syrup. Likewise, desiccated coconut is not common here, but my research shows it to be more of a powder than the flaked coconut we’re accustomed to using. That, too, can be ordered online, but I’m thinking of trying putting unsweetened coconut into my food processor to see if I can get that powdery consistency. (From my reading, coconut is common use now but was not part of the original biscuits, so you could try them without it.)
A fun adventure, making these—and celebrating our NZ/Aussie friends!
You can print this recipe here! Enjoy!