Afghans – New Zealand’s famous biscuits


Togs. It’s a strange word isn’t it? For those of you who live anywhere other than Queensland, Australia, it’s what we call our bathing suits or swimmers. Yes we’re a strange lot we Queenslanders. I have no idea where the word came from. It’s not like it gives you even the tiniest hint of what it means.

It turns out we’re not the only ones who name things and then can’t remember why we named them what we did. A few weeks ago my friend Amy, who happens to be a Kiwi, sent me a recipe that she said I had to try – Afghans, a biscuit that the Kiwis claim as one of their national foods, or so I’ve heard.

According to a bit of Googling, the name has nothing to do with Afghanistan but it more related to the dark colour of the biscuits. Apparently no one actually knows for sure where the name came from. Whatever the origin, the Kiwis love them and I can see why. They’re easy to make, use pretty simple, inexpensive ingredients and are just scrumptious.


The recipe comes from New Zealand’s most popular and one of its oldest, recipe books – Edmond’s. The book was so popular that for a few years after its release, engaged couples were sent a copy of the book for free because no wife should be without one. I wish that was still the go. I am one quarter Kiwi so I think that would entitle me to one.

I had to adapt the recipe just slightly but the end result was fantastic. I think they’re even pretty enough to serve to guests. If you’re not keen on nuts you can leave them off the top of replace them with anything you like… maybe a marshmallow or white chocolate button?

Thanks for the recipe Amy!

The ingredients

As well as the above, you will need a little bit of milk. I didn’t realise that until I got into making the biscuits and I’m still in chapter one of Photoshop for Dummies so there’s no milk in the picture.

Butter and sugar

These are super simple to whip together. Yep you guessed it – beat the butter and sugar together until they’re nice and smooth.

Flour, cocoa and milk

Take the bowl off the stand and sift in the flour and cocoa then stir them through. This is where I improvised a little. The dough seemed way too dry to be able to have cornflakes mixed into it so I also added two tablespoons of milk. The end result tasted fantastic so I don’t think I did any damage. Maybe New Zealand flour isn’t as dry as Aussie flour?


Tip in the cornflakes and stir them through. Don’t worry if you crush most of them, it’s pretty hard to be delicate at this stage. Just keep stirring/mashing it around until it looks fairly even.

Ready for baking

Using a heaped teaspoon of dough, roll it into balls and place it on a line baking tray. Squish them down until they’re all about 2cm thick. Bake the biscuits at 180C fan-forced for 15 minutes or until they are set.

Chocolate, butter and cream

While the biscuits are baking, make the icing. You can throw it all together in the microwave but it’s far less risky to melt the chocolate 15 seconds at a time and then add the butter and cream.

Mmm chocolatey goodness

Stir it all together and set it aside.


When the biscuits are cooked, leave them on the tray to set for five minutes.


Then it’s over to the wire rack to cool completely. They don’t take very long at all.


Top each one with a blob of icing. You might need to give the icing a zap in the microwave every few biscuits as it hardens up pretty quickly.

Pecan topping

Add the finishing touch – a pecan to the top of each one. The recipe actually calls for walnut but they weren’t to my standards. I couldn’t find a packet that had more than a few whole nuts in it even though they were sold as ‘whole’ nuts. Tsk tsk Coles. The pecans looked much prettier I think.


Serve them up with a cup of tea or keep them in an airtight container. I made these early last week and had the last one last night so they do keep quite a while. Enjoy!

What about you? Do you have any strange names for things? Can you remember where the name came from?

p.s. I’m looking for guest posts while I’m off lazing on a beach in Thailand on my honeymoon (in 3 weeks!!!). If you’re interested I’d love to hear from you. I’ll also re-pay the favour, if you’re happy to have me of course.

Afghans - New Zealand's famous biscuits
Serves: 30
  • 200g (7oz) butter, chopped and softened
  • ½ cup caster (superfine) sugar
  • 1¼ cups plain AP flour
  • ¼ cup cocoa
  • 1 tbsp milk
  • 2 cups cornflakes
  • 200g (7oz) chocolate
  • 25g (2tbsp) butter
  • ½ cup cream
  • whole walnuts or pecans to top the biscuits
  1. Pre-heat the oven to 180C(356F) fan-forced and line two baking trays with baking paper.
  2. Beat the butter and sugar together in the bowl of an electric mixer.
  3. Take the bowl off the stand and sift in the flour and cocoa. Add the milk and stir it all together.
  4. Tip in the corn flakes and fold them through.
  5. Using a heaped teaspoon of dough at a time, roll it into balls and place on the lined trays and press them down until they are 2cm thick.
  6. Bake for 15 minutes or until they are set.
  7. Meanwhile make the icing by melting the chocolate in the microwave. Add the butter and cream and stir them all together until the mixture is smooth.
  8. Leave the baked biscuits on the tray to set for 5 minutes and then transfer them to a wire rack to cool.
  9. Once cool, place a blob of icing on top of each one and top them with a walnut or pecan.
  10. I'm not sure how long they keep but mine were still perfect a week later (kept in an air-tight container).


  • Jill

    Reply Reply February 16, 2017

    Lovely conversations ladies. Im a Kiwi and have lived in Australia since I was 34. I’m now 61!!
    I have the most lovely memories of my darling mum who was a great baker. Thursday’s was her baking day. After dinner and when the table was cleared, she would commence baking.
    I always marvelled how she planed each weeks baking, as she made up to 8 different items in a space of 4 hours in a coal range. when I was 11 Dad bought her an electric Shacklock double oven. My mum would have said OMG for that!!! She baked Everthing from kiwi biscuits, Lamingtons, Tan Square, Belgium Slice, Ginger Crunch, Fruit Slice, Coconut drops that I still crave for and still don’t have the recipe!! And yes, the most beloved and ever popular Afghan. Always with a walnut on the top! Every week she baked something different apart from a couple of old time favourites. I can still see her in the kitchen with all the baking staked in tins on the Formica table. Guess what! I have just made some Afghans for my 2 year old Granddaughter. Who said sweets are bad!!! I have all her recipe books, and her mothers, my Nana’s. I hope they will be passed on and treasured as I treasure them. Happy baking journeys!
    Cheers – Jill xx

    • Claire

      Reply Reply February 17, 2017

      Oh Jill that’s such a wonderful memory to have. Thank you for sharing x

  • Paula Morris

    Reply Reply August 20, 2016

    I came across your site whilst searching for Afghan biscuits thinking it was a silly UK made up biscuit! Imagine my surprise? I first made these at school in the UK about 30 years ago and have been making them ever since. My recipe is hand written in my book from way back. I never knew it was a NZ delicacy! So interesting today to read about this. How strange that my old school teacher chose this as a biscuit for us to make. Delicious.

    • Claire

      Reply Reply September 7, 2016

      Oh what a wonderful story Paula. I guess you wouldn’t think that Afghans were from New Zealand would you?!

  • Andrea

    Reply Reply August 6, 2015

    Made gluten free ones for my granddaughter just replaced it with gf cornflakes & flour, found I had to add 1/2 cup extra flour they turned out yummy

  • Jacqui

    Reply Reply November 9, 2013

    Hi Claire,
    I’m a Kiwi and here in NZ afghan buscuits are such a favourite as they are so easy & quick to make. They are so easy that even husbands I know make them. Most people I know who make them don’t roll them into small dainty balls but spoon large blobs onto the tray to make them more rustic and a lot less shiny. As for togs, yes all us kiwis call them togs.

    • Claire

      Reply Reply November 9, 2013

      I think the blobs would be much easier Jacqui! Love the sound of husbands making biscuits!

  • Such a fun, original cookie idea. I’m sure I’d love the extra crunch from the cereal.

    • Claire

      Reply Reply April 14, 2012

      They’re so good Barbara! I was impressed with how crunchy the cornflakes stayed. I guess there’s not really much liquid in there so they stay nice an dry.

      • Elna ( South Africa)

        Reply Reply July 22, 2013

        Yesterday a friend had these delicious biscuits for tea at your Cake decorating guild meeting. Wow they were amazing. We ask for the recipe but she said that it is a secret because her son in Australia has a coffee shop were he sells these traditional biscuits. Lucky for me, she mentioned the name. I surfed the web and used your recipe. My family has a knew favourite biscuit!!

        • Claire

          Reply Reply July 22, 2013

          I’m so glad you found my recipe too Elna. They’re great aren’t they?

  • myfudo

    Reply Reply April 13, 2012

    I’d call these delicious….Need i say more? These are awesome!

  • I love chocolate and pecans, so I know I’d love these biscuits!

    • Claire

      Reply Reply April 13, 2012

      You definitely love all the essential elements. You’ll just have to make them now Laura!

  • amy@currylime

    Reply Reply April 13, 2012

    These look silly delicious! Can’t wait to try them.

  • Hi Claire! So glad to have found your beautiful blog here. These little New Zealand cookies look fantastic and totally mouthwatering. Even though I’ve never heard of them til now, I’m glad I know about them! Definitely would love to try these for myself! Thanks for sharing.

    • Claire

      Reply Reply April 13, 2012

      Thanks for visiting Georgia! They are so good. I can’t believe I’d never heard of them before.

  • Beautiful Claire! Love everything about these and your photos are wonderful ~ Chris

    • Claire

      Reply Reply April 12, 2012

      Thanks Chris! I’m getting better on the photos I must say. It’s a work in progress.

  • Hotly Spiced

    Reply Reply April 12, 2012

    Well, as a Kiwi from way-back, I do know these Afghan cookies and I absolutely love them. They have such a dark, chocolatey flavour. And your cookies look amazing – absolutely perfect! And, in NZ we all our swimmers ‘togs’ too! xx

    • Claire

      Reply Reply April 12, 2012

      I can’t believe I’d never heard of them before. I didn’t know NZ called them togs too. Maybe it’s not a Queensland thing, maybe dad got it from my Kiwi grandma? Thanks for the compliment Charlie!

  • These are one of my favourite cookies and I use the one from Ladies, A Plate which is so good! I love how crunchy they are with the cornflakes 🙂

    • Claire

      Reply Reply April 12, 2012

      Aren’t they fantastic? I love how easy they are. I bought a super size packet of cornflakes (cause it was the cheapest) so I’m pretty sure I’ll be making these again soon.

  • Suzie Power

    Reply Reply April 12, 2012

    Hi Claire
    Writing to you from shaky Christchurch we have just had a 4.6 earthquake at 12MD today. Getting on a big jet and flying across to Brisbane is something I’m so looking forward too!
    Afghans are my favourite biscuits and I’ve loved them since a child. My darling mother makes superb ones. The Edmonds Cooking Book is a bastion here in New Zealand.
    Loved your BLOG and would you like me to pick up a copy of the Cooking Book hand delivered by me!
    I’m arriving a little earlier now and Molly is meeting me on the 21 April and Lee & A arriving from Spain that same morning.
    You must be sooooo excited and I can’t wait to see you you Darling Girl! Suzie XXxx

    • Claire

      Reply Reply April 12, 2012

      Oh my goodness Suzie good thing you’re coming over to solid ground soon. We’re looking forward to seeing you! I would love love love a copy if it’s not too much trouble!? Thank you!!! See you very soon. xx

  • Jessica

    Reply Reply April 12, 2012

    I love desserts with cereal in them! These need a bit of love in the U.S. – I’ve never heard of them, but now I don’t know how I’ve gone so long without them!

    • Claire

      Reply Reply April 12, 2012

      I’d never heard of them either until Amy sent me the recipe. They really are delicious!

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