For the first eighteen years of my life, I am sorry to say, Australia didn’t really exist for me. Sure, I knew of it and had a smattering of friends who wanted to visit — and that one friend who actually did — but besides that, I didn’t think of Australia. Of course, when you meet people from a given country, your thoughts and opinions change. That’s what happened when I went to university and became good friends with some Australians. Now, I’m proudly able to distinguish between an Australian and generic British accent and I know a thing or two about their coffee scene. That, my friends, is quite the improvement in my book.
Yet, I still don’t know that much about Australia. Bill Bryson hit the nail on the head — as he usually does — when he wrote, “Flying into Australia, I realized with a sigh that I had forgotten again who their prime minister is … My thinking is that there ought to be one person outside Australia who knows” (In A Sunburnt Country, 1). Despite the fact that Australia is a major anglophone country, we Americans know so little about their culture. That ought to change, so today I give you Anzac biscuits. I have a feeling you’ll like them.
Anzac biscuits are a bit like digestive biscuits, they’re the younger sister if you will. A bit sweeter and dressed up in a bouncy coconut dress, anzac biscuits are the kind of treat you imagine Australian families always having in their cookie jar; ready to have with tea, as an after school snack or a cheeky midnight nibble.
You may be wondering — I certainly was as I melted together the butter and golden syrup — what Anzac means. Could it possibly be a proper name? Anzac is an acronym for ‘Australia and New Zealand Army Crops,’ a holiday the two countries celebrate on 25 April to commemorate the solidiers that fought during the great wars and have continued to protect them since. The celebration begins a bit like remembrance day with people attending memorial services across the country (services are also held abroad for expats). Then, the holiday progresses to more July 4th-style activities with people celebrating, drinking beer and gambling during the one day that small, unlicensed gambling is allowed.
Anzac biscuits are a pinch to make, you probably have most of the ingredients on hand. Since they were originally made to be able to withstand overseas shipping to soldiers abroad, they’re sturdy too.
I didn’t have shaved coconut on hand so I subsitituted coconut chips. It made the biscuits a little softer and more rounded, but still delicious. If you only have coconut chips, I would recommend throwing them in a food processor to shred them. Unfortunately, I only thought of that after I added the coconut.
If you can’t find golden syrup, then I guess you could use maple syrup or honey as a substitution; HOWEVER I highly advise against that and recommend taking the time to search for golden syrup. It’s a fantastic sweetener that has a deliciously unique taste. I know you can find it at some gourmet grocery stores such as Fairway, Dean and Deluca and Whole Foods. You can also buy it on amazon.
Have you ever had an anzac biscuit before? What’s your national/regional cookie?