Sunday, July 1, 2012
ANZAC Cookies: Tough, Tender, & Time-Tested
Some things are designed to be sturdy and resilient, to travel well, and to require no special handling. Rucksacks, helmets, and combat boots come to mind. But one doesn't normally associate a cookie with those particular qualities. Interesting, then, that just such rough and tumble characteristics rightly belong to this chewy little cookie. Containing no eggs and not prone to crumbling, they hold up well in transit and are palatable for a good while after being baked.
Featuring dessicated coconut, oats, and that beautiful concoction Lyle's Golden Syrup, ANZAC cookies/biscuits (they're named for the Australia New Zealand Army Corps) gained popularity during World War I. Wives, moms, and girlfriends prepared them for their loved ones in the service far away. Can't you just picture a tired young soldier unwrappping a parcel from home, only to find a couple dozen of these fragrant cookies snugly packed inside, along with a nice long letter? It's no wonder they've withstood the test of time.
And besides boasting a strong constitution, these cookies have a lush buttery flavor. They're just plain delicious. Try one dipped into a cold glass of milk, tucked into a scoop of chocolate ice cream, or served alongside a bright bowl of fruit sorbet.
About this recipe . . .
From Alice Medrich's irresistible book, Chewy Gooey Crispy Crunchy Melt-In-Your-Mouth Cookies, this is my formula of choice for this legendary cookie. (My only adaptions were to double the recipe and rewrite the instructions to reflect what I actually did). I doubt this recipe could be improved upon. It's so good as it is. You can always trust Alice's recipes. That gal really knows her stuff.
(For a printable version of this recipe, click here!)
2 cups rolled oats (I happened to use quick oats.)
2 sticks (1 cup) unsalted butter
1 and 1/2 cups granulated sugar
2 tablespoons water
4 tablespoons (1/4 cup) Lyle's Golden Syrup (You can substitute honey, per Alice, but I have to believe these taste best made with Lyle's.)
2 cups all-purpose flour (I used unbleached, and whisked it lightly before measuring.)
2 teaspoons cream of tartar
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 cups dessicated coconut (This is coconut that's dried, shredded small, and unsweetened; readily available in health food stores if you can't find it in a regular grocery store.)
In the large bowl of your food processor, pulse the oats for a few seconds, until coarsely ground but not powdery.
In a large mixing bowl, by hand, combine the ground oats along with the flour, cream of tartar, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.
In a large pot (I used a dutch oven) set over low heat, stir together the butter, sugar, water, and golden syrup until the butter is melted. Add in all of the dry ingredients, and stir until it's entirely combined.
Divide the dough into four equal parts and form each one into a log about 2 inches in diameter. Roll each log snugly in parchment paper and chill in the refrigerator for a couple of hours, or overnight.
When you're ready to bake the cookies, preheat your oven to 325 degrees. Line a couple of cookie sheets with parchment. Removing one chilled log from the fridge at a time, slice the cookies to a thickness of no more than 1/2 an inch with a very sharp knife; if the dough crumbles on the edges as you slice, press it back together with your fingers. Lay the cookies about 1 inch apart on the parchment lined cookie sheets.
Bake the cookies for approximately 15 minutes, until they're golden on the bottom and lightly golden on top. Rotate the sheets in the oven half-way through for even baking. Let the finished cookies cool on their pans for a few minutes. (They'll be firm enough to handle relatively quickly, but will still be kind of soft and chewy at first. They'll be much firmer after a few hours and that's when you'll realize why they're famous for their sturdy constitution!)
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