Afghans

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.

Afghans

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?

Cornflakes

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.

Resting

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

Cooling

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

Icing

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.

Afghans

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

Afghans - New Zealand's famous biscuits

Afghans - New Zealand's famous biscuits

Yield: 30

Ingredients

Biscuit

  • 200g (7oz) butter, chopped and softened
  • 1/2 cup caster (superfine) sugar
  • 1 1/4 cups plain AP flour
  • 1/4 cup cocoa
  • 1 tbsp milk
  • 2 cups cornflakes

Icing

  • 200g (7oz) chocolate
  • 25g (2tbsp) butter
  • 1/2 cup cream
  • whole walnuts or pecans to top the biscuits

Instructions

  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).

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