ANZAC stands for “Australian and New Zealand Army Corps”, created during the World War I and the biscuits bearing this name were created at the same time by women desperate to send nutritious home-made food to their husbands, sons and boyfriends. According to this website, faced with at least two months’ transportation time, a group of women worked out a recipe based on rather healthy Scottish rolled oats biscuits and added only those ingredients which ensured long preservation. There are several theories on why eggs are not used, but their absence certainly makes biscuits last longer.
Nowadays ANZAC Biscuits are widely available in supermarkets in Australia, New Zealand and apparently also in the UK. They are also very popular among home cooks and there is myriad ANZAC Biscuits recipes on the web. Mine is taken from Three-Cookies blog (or to be precise from Easily Good Eats by the same author) and if you know Mr. Three-Cookies, you understand that my choice was obvious. If you don’t, either of his blogs and you will quickly realise it would be difficult to find a better cookies and biscuits specialist. If you are familiar with ANZAC Biscuits, Mr. Three-Cookies is also a very adventurous experimenter and his Easily Good Eats blog features also modified versions of this classical recipe.
Before baking them I have never tasted ANZAC Biscuits, so I really didn’t know what to expect. I had already baked with rolled oats and desiccated coconut and expected good, but quite ordinary biscuits. Since my expectations were so low, the first bite felt like an electric shock on my tastebuds. I don’t know what magical chemical reaction is created among the ingredients, but the result is irresistible and surprisingly complex. I bet that if you have never tasted ANZAC Biscuits, “Wow!” is all you will be able to say while you bite into the first one. (UPDATE and WARNING: do not taste the raw dough! You will end up eating it straight from the pan while you wait for your previous batch to bake).
I have only slightly modified the recipe and followed Mr. Three-Cookies’ advice (see his post here), using brown sugar, which gave a very pleasant, slightly caramelised taste. I have also put molasses instead of golden syrup. I also totally agree with him on one point: do not use margarine or any other vegetable shortening. The butter taste and aroma is so strong, you will lose a big part of the pleasure.
As I have mentioned above, they keep fresh in a tightly closed container for several days (and maybe even more, but I wasn’t able to test it). The stay crunchy and slightly chewy.
UPDATE: You might also like ANZAC biscuits with dried cranberry.
Preparation: 1 hour (or 30 minutes if you manage to bake everything in one batch)
Ingredients (I have obtained about 30 biscuits):
70 grams/1 cup rolled oats
90 grams/1 cup desiccated coconut
120 g/1 cup flour
125 g/about 4,5 oz butter
160 g/3/4 cup brown cane sugar
1 tablespoon dark syrup (I used 2 tablespoons molasses)
1 teaspoon baking soda (bi-carbonate of soda, in countries where it is not widely available, for example in France, it can be easily bought in pharmacies)
2 tablespoons boiling water
pinch of salt
Preheat the oven to 180°C.
Melt the butter and syrup or molasses in a big pan.
Combine the flour, the oats, the coconut, the salt and the sugar. Add slowly to the melted butter.
At the end combine the boiling water and soda. Pour the mixture into the dough and stir well with a spoon.
Roll small balls (mine were a walnut size) and put them on a baking sheet (leaving at least 3 cm spaces between each ball since they will spread).
Flatten them slightly (they will flatten even more during the baking process) and bake 10-15 minutes or until golden.
Don’t worry if the dough seems crumbly. It is normal. Just squeeze well the dough when forming balls in your hands and don’t flatten them too much.
Keep them in a tightly closed container. Apparently they keep for ages. All I know is they keep at least three days.