Saturday, April 25, 2009

Anzac Biscuits

Anzac Biscuit (cookies) are a big Aussie icon. They are especially prominent around ANZAC Day. The story I've been told over and over is that the biscuits were made and sent to the men in the trenches. Now, it's been said that it was a form of nourishment, and while the ingredients may not seem to wholesome to us today, you have to remember that food was highly rationed during that time (World War I). There are many stories or theories as to how these biscuits came into play, but they all go back to World War I. There are those who say the troops themselves created them. Some think that perhaps the CWA started them (which isn't possible because it wasn't founded at the time), and the Kiwis have an entirely different view point. The fact still remains though that ANZAC Biscuits are a great way for me to help my kids learn a bit about their Australian heritage.

They might be too young to pull out of bed at sunrise and take them to a service or gathering. But they are never too young or too old for a biscuit! So, while the kids were upstairs waking up to Blue's Clues I was downstairs reminiscing as to how I wasn't getting to see any of the soldiers returning home, and preparing a batch of Anzac Biscuits. The recipe is extremely simple, but, as always, loaded with sugar.

I turned to the pantry and lined up the sweeteners I had available, which was followed with a few laments for those I was out of. Then, I set to work making a batch of these tasty treats with no sugar. Something to keep in mind is that I don't have access to things like Date Sugar and Maple Sugar.

I've been giving the green light to import them for myself, so long as packages are clearly marked, but when I looked into the price of shipping I nearly lost my mind! So, with that said I have to supplement with what I do have. If you can get yourself some date or maple sugar then you're free to make these cookies with the original recipe simply using maple or date sugar as a cup for cup replacement.

I wasn't into using honey for them if I could help it. Honey will make them soft, and Anzac's are suppose to be a bit more crispy. I had hoped to use my brown rice syrup, but I was out. Which left me with maple syrup (Lawrence doesn't like maple), Molasses, Agave Nectar, & stevia. Plus, I remembered I had some dried dates in the cupboard that were a bit too hard for eating. It was suggested I attempt to make my own date sugar by grinding them in the food processor.

I ground them, but they were super sticky once they broke down enough. Knowing that date sugar doesn't fully dissolve I opted to use them anyway. In the end here's the recipe I used:

Anzac Biscuits
(without sugar)

180 g butter
2 T agave nectar
1 T molasses
1/2 t Stevia
1 c dried date pureed
1 t baking soda
1 c oats
1 c flour
1 c desiccated coconut

Put the butter in a small saucepan add agave nectar, molasses, and stevia. Heat on low until all melted, add baking soda. It will foam a bit, but this is normal and okay! Set aside. Mix dry ingredients in a bowl, add date and either mix with a fork, pastry cutter, fingers, OR throw it all in the food processor and give it a whirl until it's crumbly. Mix wet and dry together. Scoop out by tablespoon full, roll into ball and squash it flat between your palms. Put them on pre-greased trays and bake at 180 c (350 F) for 8-10 minutes or until golden brown.

NOTES: I had only 50 grams of butter, so I used margarine for the rest. I was also nearly out of white flour and only had 1/4 cup (extra bran) and used 3/4 cup barley for the rest. I was also shy on coconut, but had desiccated toasted (I'd used them on marshmallows earlier this year) and so I simply threw in the toasted to make up what I needed. I used the food processor to combine the date puree into my dry ingredients. My biscuits took just under 10 minutes. They crisp up once cooled. Not CRISP, but crisp outside with a softer inside. I do NOT like coconut, but I love these biscuits.

The boys were delighted to be told they could have one before breakfast. Which opened up lots of questions as to why were having Anzac biscuits. They, of course, ran to the window to see if they could spot any soldiers (no such luck), and were dismayed to find out that the soldiers didn't get a cup of milk with their tasty biscuits.

For those of you who don't mind sugar you can get the original recipe from many sources, but here's two: Anzac Biscuits 1 -- Anzac Biscuits 2. You could also use those recipes if you were subbing with Maple or Date sugar. Metric measuring spoons/cups are slightly bigger then American ones, so you may find that you need to be more generous with your measurements.

If you really want to try a packaged one (I swear to you homemade is better) and you reside in America you can try to buy them from either of these places: Australian Catalog (located in GA, they are REALLY good company, and if you go to GA they have bakeries where you can get loads of yummy treats.) Amazon also has them listed, but not available.


Kimberly said...

These cookies look yummy. I will try them with some date sugar I have.


Heidi said...

I'm going to make these with my son, and he'll get a history lesson as well as yummy biscuits!

Kendra said...

Heidi, that's going to be a History Lesson he'll remember too, with the tasty treats awaiting him! :)

Kimberly, lucky you with date sugar on hand!