Afghans: NZ Chocolate Cornflake Biscuits

_MG_1300The biscuits are soft, chocolatey, crunch and all things delicious rolled into one. I do think they are the perfect home-made biscuit. If I said things like “my signature bake” then these would be it.

I bake quite a bit for my workmates, when I’m practicing baby shower cakes, trying out new recipes and using up all the bananas in my freezer, but Afghans are what I get the most requests for. I definitely don’t mind obliging either, these are my favourite biscuits to make. They are so simple and quick and it’s one of the few recipes that I have committed to memory, so I don’t even need to hunt through the cookbook any more.

Almost as much as I get requests for the biscuits though, I get questions about the name. Why is it called an Afghan? The simple answer from me is that I have no idea. Neither does Wikipedia. An interesting but very long blog post has been written on the subject and in the end the writer calls on re-naming them. If it ever comes to that I hope we give them a quintessentially New Zealand name as they are a great part of our very limited culinary history. Especially when Australia keeps trying to claim the Pavlova.

_MG_1315For me, the Afghan biscuit is a huge part of my childhood. My nana used to have them in her biscuit tin often. When I was young the whole family used to pile into the car on Sunday afternoons and make the 30 minute drive from Petone to Island Bay to visit nana and granddad. My two sisters, cousins and I would be placated with board games or sent to the park while nana would set up afternoon tea. There would be a spread of what she had in her tins for that week, usually scones or pikelets, Neenish tarts, lemon or orange cake, Tan Square (a caramel biscuit slice), ginger slice and always, always a sponge with cream and jam. The adults would have tea in nana’s dainty cups and saucers and us kids would have homemade lemonade.

So many of my baking memories come from afternoon tea at nana and granddad’s place, my nana was such a committed baker and used to make so much from scratch. Not only sweets and lemonade but tomato sauce, preserves, pastries, crackers and even home-made chocolate eggs at Easter. Not to mention the evening meals and lunches. She was an impressive lady and has inspired me more than she could ever know.

So here is the recipe, give it a try. Let me know how you get on.

Edmonds Afghans

Ingredients:

200g butter, softened

1/2 cup sugar

1 1/4 cups plain flour

1/4 cup cocoa

2 cups cornflakes

Optional:

chocolate icing

walnuts to decorate

Method:

Cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Sift flour and cocoa into creamed mixture. Fold in cornflakes. Spoon mounds of mixture onto a greased oven tray, gently pressing into a ball. (I then flatten these slightly with a fork). Bake at 180 degrees celsius for 15 minutes or until set. When cold, ice with chocolate icing and decorate with a walnut if wished.

Tip: The mixture should be firm and sticky like below. If you find it’s getting too soft and the butter is melting, then once you have spooned the mixture onto the trays put them in the fridge to set for about 15 minutes before baking.

_MG_1242Here I’ve used silver balls on the icing to make them a bit special. I am donating this batch for my work bake sale on Tuesday.

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The Edmonds Challenge

This blog is all about expanding my horizons and pushing myself just that little bit further to get where I want to be. But it’s not just on this big things. I want to challenge myself to get out of my comfort zone and do just a little bit more.

_MG_0099So I’m starting with baking. This is my number one hobby and go to for everything in life from comfort and stress relief to creativity and expression. Not a weekend goes by where I’m not whipping something up for some reason or another. But what I have realised recently is that the ‘something’ I’m making is usually one of two things, banana loaf or Afghans. It is time to branch out and that’s what my Edmonds Challenge is about. I want to bake at least two new things from the Edmonds cook book  per month. Sort of like Julia and Julia with a lot less time pressure.

_MG_0094I’ve chosen the Edmonds book as it is a bit of a New Zealand institution. I learned to cook through my copy of The Edmonds Junior Cook Book, which had step by step pictures and warnings on every page ‘Careful, the pan is hot’. It is a New Zealand tradition to receive a copy of The Edmonds Cookery Book from your Mum when you first leave home, the copy I am using was my boyfriends departing gift when he moved to Wellington to study. It’s a book that has been around for ever, first published in 1907 and the biggest selling book ever published in New Zealand. It’s a staple in every NZ home so it’s not a fad to pass like cronuts and cake pops. It’s simple, plain and hopefully delicious cooking. Also, if my two signature bakes come from it, surely there are more to be discovered.

So, what’s your favourite Edmonds recipe? What should I try out first?