April 25th was ANZAC Day, the annual commemoration of the important role played by the Australian and New Zealand Army Corp in World War II, especially in the bloody campaign in Gallipoli, Turkey. To be perfectly honest, none of this would have been at the forefront of my consciousness, had Jacquie not sent Michael a box of ANZAC biscuits, an eggless cookie popularized by the wives and girlfriends of ANZAC soldiers. These oat cookies had a long shelf life and could withstand the rigors of being shipped halway around the world to their loved ones on the front lines.
Jacquie’s version differed from the ubiquitous one on the internet by the addition of ginger powder and toasted macadamia nuts. They looked scrumptious and since Tawn and I were going to have guests over for dinner last weekend, I decided to bake a batch. Along the way, I spontaneously decided to add some left-over white chocolate that was in the fridge as well as a handful of dried cranberries.
This is the recipe Jacquie provided with only minor modifications by me. An original recipe without nuts and ginger is located here.
Ginger Macadamia ANZAC Biscuits
1/2 c unstalted raw macadamia nuts
3/4 c all-purpose flour
1 1/2 t powdered ginger
1 1/2 c rolled oats
3/4 c granulated sugar
1/2 c dried shredded coconut
2 T boiling water
1 1/4 T golden syrup (or corn syrup)
1 t baking soda
4 oz butter
First step is to preheat the oven to 180 C / 375 F and, once warm, toast the nuts for a few minutes, stirring them to ensure even toasting. Remove when golden brown and aromatic and let cool in the pan. Then chop the nuts with a knife making the pieces not too large (they’ll fall too easily out of the cookie dough) but not so small that you lose the nice crunch of the nut.
Next step is to mix all the dry ingredients – except for the baking soda! – together. You may get the impression that there isn’t enough flour, but have faith that it will come together in the end.
Melt the butter on the stovetop. In a separate bowl, add the boiling water, golden syrup (which is a sugar cane based syrup – you can substitute corn syrup), and baking soda. Whisk briefly to set the soda bubbling then stir in the butter. Set aside for five minutes to allow it to cool slightly.
Pour the liquid mixture into the dry mixture, stirring throughly to combine. At this point, I decided to add a few more items: a handful of dried cranberries and about a 1/3 cup of coarsely chopped white chocolate. These were wonderful additions although by no means necessary.
You can then wrap the dough tightly and place in the refrigterator for fifteen minutes to firm it up slightly, making it easier to handle. If your kitchen is nice and cool and you aren’t having that problem, no need to refrigerate!
Prepare baking sheets with parchment paper then portion the dough onto the sheets. A heaping teaspoon full of dough should be enough, although you may want to experiment with sizes should you prefer a larger cookie. Bear in mind that these cookies will spread so don’t crowd them together. If you put the trays back into the refrigerator until baking, it will slow the spread.
Bake one sheet at a time in the oven for about 12 minutes or until golden brown, turning halfway through the baking to ensure even cooking. Cooking for a little longer will make for a crispier cookie. After taking the tray out of the oven, let the cookies rest on the tray for 5 minutes before transferring them to a wire rack. Let cool and enjoy!
As for the rest of our dinner, I prepared some nice crostini as an appetizer:
Balsamic-vinegar roasted sweet peppers on basil pesto.
Black olive and caper tapenade.
A fresh salad with feta, candied pecans, and cherry tomatoes.
A ham, black olive, and fresh mozzarella pizza.
And the real winner of the day, a white pizza with a simple white cream sauce, thinly sliced rosemary potatoes, a scattering of mozzarella cheese, and red onions. Divine!