ANZAC Biscuits

Today is ANZAC Day – a very special day in both New Zealand and Australia, where soldiers who have given their lives in the armed forces are remembered and celebrated. ANZAC stands for Australian and New Zealand Army Corps and dates back to the First World War (1914 – 1918), and is strongly linked to the battle of Gallipoli in 1915.

ANZAC Biscuits

Coming from South Africa, the term ANZAC was new to me and during my research about the meaning and history of this day, I came across a page that gives a lot of information so instead of re-writing it all here, I include the link for you to check out – please take a moment to visit it.
http://azmetro.com/nzanzac.html.

Every 25th of April, dawn services are held to commemorate the fallen soldiers who were young men in the prime of their lives who gave their lives, as so many since, so that we may live in a free and peaceful world. As humankind, we still haven’t quite got the hang of it, but generations later, we still benefit from the sacrifices so many have made. Anzac biscuits have a cloudy beginning, with no account actually being able to categorically state their true beginning, but it is thought that these biscuits were made by wives and girlfriends and sent out to the soldiers using war-time ingredients and ones that would travel well and still be enjoyable by the time they reached the forces. No eggs were used, due to shortages, and all are basic pantry ingredients. They’re deliciously sweet biscuits and are on sale throughout the year in both New Zealand and Australia, but are often used as part of fund raising drives for the RSA (Returned Servicemen’s Association).

After the slaughter that launched the Battle of Gallipoli which lasted 8 months, it was decided that forever more, these brave young men would be remembered, with the first commemorative service being held in 1916 and continuing every year since then. At each service, the dedication below is read and each time I hear it or read it, it brings tears to my eyes and a lump to my throat and I pray that we will never again be faced with a war of such proportion in this beautiful world of ours.

The ANZAC Dedication: For the Fallen
by Laurence Binyon

They shall not grow old
as we that are left grow old.
Age shall not weary them,
nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun
and in the morning,
we will remember them.

ingredients:
(Below are the ingredients for a single batch, but I double it all and end up with about 30 decent sized biscuits)
1/2 cup plain flour
1/3 cup sugar
2/3 cup coconut
3/4 cup rolled oats
50 g butter
1 Tbsp golden syrup
1/2 tsp baking soda
2 Tbsp boiling water

  1. Preheat the oven to 180°C and either grease or line two baking trays with baking paper.
  2. Mix together the dry ingredients, except for the baking soda.
  3. Melt the butter and golden syrup in the microwave or on the stove.
  4. Dissolve the baking soda in the boiling water and add it to the butter and golden syrup.
  5. Stir the butter mixture into the dry ingredients.
  6. Using two spoons, measure out a dollop of the mixture (or just use your hands and roll little balls) and place onto the cold baking trays.
  7. Flatten slightly if too round.
  8. Bake for about 15 minutes or until golden brown.

Enjoy!

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Best Chocolate Brownie – ever!

This has got to be one of my favourite treats to bake and of course, to eat. Growing up, I was never fond of Brownies, in fact, I tried to avoid them at all cost , but the older I got and as my penchant for chocolate increased – especially dark chocolate – I turned to Brownies. I can’t remember why I didn’t enjoy them when I was younger, perhaps the fact that nuts are a popular ingredient; and although I enjoy nuts, I prefer my Brownies plain – plain chocolate that is – too fancy and the chocolate pleasure is diluted. Now some of my friends are baking whizzes while others… well, let’s just say that they weren’t born with the baking gene but are thankfully blessed with other wonderful talents, but this dish is as difficult as combining all ingredients into a single pot and pouring the mixture into a lined baking tray. Now anyone can do that…I think :).

Best Chocolate Brownie ever

Over the years I must have tried about 12 different recipes while searching for “The One” and even though I’ve played around with this one a little, I always come back to the original recipe – the way it was given to me by an ex colleague about 9 years ago. Life simply changed the day she brought these into the office. They are rich, dense and truly decadent. I prefer to make them with a Dutch cocoa, but used a mixture of Dutch cocoa and Cadbury Bournville cocoa on these (pictured above) so they aren’t as dark as they otherwise would be.

TIP: While looking through the list of ingredients, you’ll notice a hideous amount of chocolate and a gargantuan quantity of sugar, but I’ve proved to myself that if using 50 – 60% dark chocolate, you need every sugar crystal the recipe calls for. When I make the Brownies for a younger audience and choose milk chocolate instead of dark, I halve the quantity of sugar required or they are overly sweet. I’ve also tried using 70% dark chocolate, but that’s a little too bitter for me, but served warm as an after dinner dessert with a good helping of vanilla ice cream or freshly whipped cream, it can work….so give it your best shot and see what works for you.

TIP: Once cut up into servable slices or squares, they look very pretty dusted lightly with icing sugar, but they must be cold or the icing sugar melts and disappears before your eyes.

TIP: I also sometimes use cookie cutter shapes and “cut out” themed pieces for Christmas, Easter or birthday parties. The kids love them and the adults always think you’re so clever, he he he – not really, just innovative. Off-cuts can be frozen to use later to make cake pops, or nibbles if the cake pops seem like too much hard work.

TIP: last one…I promise – also works well for people with nut allergies as you simply replace the chocolate with a nut-free version (like Sweet William in NZ) and a suitably nut-free cocoa (Sun-Valley Foods in NZ) and flour (Pams in NZ). The Sweet William range includes both slabs and chips/drops.

ingredients:
225 g butter
200 g dark chocolate
2 cups castor sugar
4 medium sized eggs
1½ t vanilla essence (or 2 if you can’t be bothered trying to measure a half)
1½ cups plain flour
½ cup cocoa

  1. Preheat the oven to 180°C (lower for fan forced ovens). Grease and line a 27 x 17 cm baking tin with baking paper or simply line with tin foil. The original recipe calls for a 30 x 24 cm tin, but it’s much of a muchness – I just don’t like my Brownies to be too thin. The thicker/taller they are though, you’ll have to adjust the baking time and watch closely, as oven temperatures differ.
  2. Melt the butter and chocolate in a large saucepan over a low heat.
  3. Add the sugar and stir gently to combine, allowing the sugar to melt.
  4. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition (use a hand beater or whisk).
  5. Stir in the vanilla essence.
  6. Mix in the flour and cocoa until evenly combined – pop a sieve over the top of the pot and sieve the dry ingredients directly into the mixture – it’s not to incorporate air, but to avoid any lumps of flour/cocoa in the end product.
  7. Pour into the prepared tray and bake for 20 – 25 minutes (larger tray – thinner brownies) or 25 – 30 minutes (smaller tray – thicker brownies). Remember to adjust the cooking time and keep checking during the last few minutes as a true Brownie MUST be squidgy in the centre.

Enjoy!

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Peppermint Crisp Chocolate Log

I have to be honest and admit I’ve only made this once, but it has got to be just about the easiest non-baked treat I’ve come across. A friend recently shared the original link on Facebook (you can follow Chocolate Goose on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/chocolategoose?ref=hl\) and it looked so delicious I had to give it a go. It didn’t last very long either so it will definitely be made again, and again, and again…you get the picture ;).

If you can’t find Peppermint Crisp chocolate bars (they hail from South Africa and we are lucky to be able to get them from a few SA shops in Auckland), then perhaps peppermint Aero or any delicious minty chocolate might do the trick.

Peppermint Crisp Log

I also realise this has nothing to do with Easter, and although I was planning on doing another Easter themed treat, this log got the better of me so please just humour me – surely anything chocolatey at this time of year passes as an Easter treat? Well, I dare you to try it. It’s another one of those recipes where you can adapt the ingredients to suit your taste buds or pantry stocks and everyone will be begging for more. Although I must warn you, it is very rich, so a little goes a long way.

Thank you to Katelyn Williams, the creator of this delicious treat, for sharing the recipe, I’ve tried adding the original link but it wants to embed the post so please visit:
https://www.facebook.com/thekatetin?fref=ts if you’d like to see it in all it’s former glory.

The original recipe called for part of the Peppermint Crisp to be included in the log with the rest sprinkled over the top, but I personally think this may have overdone the peppermint flavour a little, so I halved the quantity required and put it all into the log, then grated Kinder chocolate over the top so play around with the ingredients as much or as little as you like.

ingredients:
100 g butter (salted is probably better here as it balances out the sweet)
300 g milk chocolate, chopped
½ a tin condensed milk
200 g shortbread biscuits, broken into small pieces
80 g Peppermint Crisp bars, chopped (you can use the full 160 g if you like)
50 – 80 g Kinder chocolate (or any other chocolate on hand – BUT ONLY if you aren’t using the full 160 g as mentioned above)
80 g white marshmallows
cocoa powder, for dusting

  1. In a saucepan, combine the butter, milk chocolate and condensed milk over a low heat and stir until melted.
  2. In a separate bowl, break the biscuits into pieces and combine with the peppermint crisp chunks and chopped marshmallows.
  3. Line a standard size loaf tin with a sheet of baking paper and set aside.
  4. Combine the melted chocolate mixture with the biscuit mixture and stir until combined.
  5. Pour into the lined loaf tin and place in the fridge until completely set.
  6. Unmould and dust the cocoa powder over the top, using a fine mesh sieve.
  7. Sprinkle over the rest of the chopped/grated chocolate and cut into slices.
  8. TIP – you might want to remove it from the fridge a while before slicing as it becomes so hard, it can be difficult to cut – alternatively, once set, slice the full log and return to the fridge and then dust with cocoa and sprinkle with chocolate when ready to serve.

Enjoy!
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Chocolate Oaty Easter Nests

With Easter just around the corner I decided to pull out a few old family favourite recipes from my childhood. My sister used to make these, or something very similar, just minus the Easter eggs, and we’d impatiently wait for the freezer to set them sufficiently before we attacked them with relish. She would heap spoonfuls of the combined ingredients onto a baking sheet prepared with baking paper so they didn’t stick and we’d enjoy the little mountains of solidified oaty chocolate. It is neither a cookie, nor a slice and although I’ve put them into cupcake cases, that is purely for decoration, ease of eating and so they keep their shape. Provided you are able to eat oats, you can make these little tasty treats any which way you like and the kids will love getting involved with this easy no-bake recipe too.

Easter Chocolate Oaty Nests

A few years ago I saw a similar recipe in a kiddies magazine, but I remember them using cornflakes instead of oats. Another option could be to replace the oats or cornflakes with bran flakes or cocoa pops/rice crispies. Adding raising or cranberries takes it to another level so feel free to be as adventurous with these basic ingredients as your imagination will allow.

As this is a very easy “no-bake” recipe, and is made from pantry staples, it’s a great idea to keep this recipe handy for when visitors pop in unexpectedly (little ones I mean) or for parties, the annual school fundraising gala, church bazaars or just because you feel like it…

ingredients:
3 Tbsp butter
1 cup icing sugar
1 – 2 Tbsp cocoa powder
1 cup oats
a little milk if required
mini coated chocolate Easter eggs

These ingredients make about 6 medium sized muffin/cupcake size treats (filled halfway) or 10 – 12 mini muffin/cupcake size treats. It might seem like I’m being stingy, but they are very rich and you don’t need a large helping to satisfy a sweet tooth craving. Double or triple the ingredient quantities to suit the number of treats required.

  1. Melt the butter over a low heat in a medium sized saucepan.
  2. Sift in the icing sugar and cocoa, purely to remove lumps as there is no need to incorporate air.
  3. Add the oats (or rice crispies, cornflakes, crushed weetbix, bran flakes, raisins, etc.) and stir gently with a wooden spoon. You may need to add a little milk, about 1 Tbsp at a time as you don’t want to make it too runny.
  4. When the ingredients are well combined, spoon them into cupcake cases or heap them in mounds on a prepared baking sheet.
  5. Place into the freezer to set – should be ready in about a half an hour.
  6. Decorate with the mini coated Easter eggs.

Enjoy!
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