This Saturday, 25th April 2015, is ANZAC Day. This year, however, it is not just any ANZAC Day. It’s the 100th anniversary of that fateful day in ANZAC Cove at Gallipoli in 1915. It is an event that became a defining part of Australian (and New Zealand) folklore, history, and culture. As such, the commemorations this year, in Australasia and Europe, and especially at ANZAC Cove in Turkey, far outnumber and outweigh those that came before.
The ANZAC biscuit (cookie to the North Americans out there 🙂 ) was born during the WW1 era. During the war, the families of young Australian soldiers would send ANZAC biscuits to their loved ones to help make up for what were often meagre rations that they were given every day. The biscuit was created to have a long shelf life as they had to travel for several months by ship before reaching their recipients. They were often so hard, some soldiers used them to paint cameos on them instead of eating them. To make them last, they were made egg free and contained quite a lot of sugar. But as with all things, the biscuit recipe evolved a little over time, while still staying true to its roots.
If you are interested, check out some of the original recipes at the Australian War Memorial site.
Today’s ANZAC biscuits vary a bit from the original. We usually add coconut but historically, this appears to have been a later addition and not part of the original recipe. Recipes today are also usually more crumbly than the original but they vary depending on who makes them.
I really love ANZAC biscuits but this year I find myself unable to bake a batch as I still don’t have an oven that works properly. However, there is always an upside, right? In this instance, I’d say there are two wins here.
Firstly, there are so many great standard recipes for ANZAC biscuits in cookbooks, and all over the internet. What could I possibly add to that lexicon by posting my own, probably identical, recipe? Not a great deal.
Secondly, necessity is the mother of invention, and this is where it gets interesting. If I have no oven, why not create a no bake version of the beloved ANZAC? It may be a departure from convention. But I think that is a fairly typical Australian thing to do ;). A few years ago, I made some ANZAC Protein Bars, remember?
These are on the hard side, but how hard they will be, depends on how much caramelisation you want (and how hard you like them). In order to get the flavours developed, this recipe relies on browning the butter and slightly caramelising the sugars. This gives a richer flavour that is closest to the traditional baked ANZAC biscuit. They are great for dunking.
If you happen to be without an oven, or just dislike baking altogether (OMG, what?), then this recipe might just fit the bill for you this year.
On a more serious note, let’s take some time to remember the many young men and women who gave up their futures, their potential, and, so often, their lives.
We can argue about the futility of war, but we should never lose the respect for those whose innocent lives were lost because of war.
Lest We Forget.
This is a no bake version of a traditional ANZAC biscuit recipe. How hard you make them depends on your preference.
To obtain a more "toffee" hardness in your biscuits and a greater caramelisation, you can caramelise the sugar, syrup, and water separately before adding the browned butter. Aim for a light caramel or the biscuits will be rock hard. I quite like doing this. They do soften a little on keeping but will be most suitable for dunking if made this way.
I use honey for these mostly. This is partly because I have no real use for golden syrup and I love the flavour that a beautiful honey can give the biscuits.
You could toast the rolled oats lightly in an oven before adding to the biscuit mixture, if you prefer.
100 grams unsalted butter, cubed
185 grams caster sugar
45 grams golden syrup (or honey)
40 grams water
170 grams rolled oats
50 grams shredded unsweetened coconut
Line one or two baking sheets with non-stick baking paper and set aside.
Place the butter into a saucepan and melt over a low heat.
Raise the heat to medium and cook until the butter is slightly browned and gives off a nutty aroma. You want to brown the butter, not burn it. So take care!
Lower the heat and add the sugar and golden syrup (or honey), and water to the butter.
Stir gently until the sugar and syrup melt completely.
Raise the heat and boil for a couple of minutes, until light golden.
Remove from the heat and add the oats and coconut.
Stir well with a heatproof spatula, until the oats and coconut are fully coated.
Drop spoonfuls of the mixture on to the prepared baking trays.
Flatten each biscuit into a round shape.
Let the biscuits cool and set at room temperature.
These are best made ahead and stored for 24 hours before eating.
They will keep for ages, stored in an airtight container.