Sunday, November 16, 2014

Afghan Biscuits

I love these little Afghan biscuits with their rich, crunchy base and chocolate topping. They are a New Zealand favourite and I find it interesting that the longer I live here the less clear I am about what "belongs" to one country as opposed to another and it all becomes just baking without frontiers. If I've only been eating these since I arrived in NZ then I've certainly missed out and have a lot of catching up to do.

Traditionally these would be topped with a walnut half, but the batch I made were being shared with the nut allergy sufferer, so I topped half with pieces of coconut chips (shaved coconut).  The coconut goes well with the chocolate and I think gives a complementary look to the more traditional biscuit. Perhaps I could start a new trend?

I'm a bit fussy about the cornflakes. They have to be crushed just right. Not too crumbly, not too large. For some reason I hate seeing whole flakes jutting out the biscuit but that's just me always trying to be perfect.

I had some leftover chocolate ganache so used that as topping (which I have to say was a particularly luxurious touch and very nice) but I've given the standard chocolate icing recipe below.  

 Makes about 16-18 biscuits depending on size.

Afghan Biscuits

200g butter, softened
90g (1/2 cup) caster sugar
1 tsp vanilla essence
175g (1 1/4 cups) standard flour
35g (1/4 cup) good quality cocoa powder
55g (1 1/2 cups) cornflakes, lightly crushed

Chocolate icing

1 1/2 cups icing sugar
60g butter
4 tbsp boiling water
1/4 cup cocoa

Walnut halves or coconut chips to decorate.

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees Celsius. Grease or line a baking tray with baking paper.

In a cake mixer, beat the butter, sugar and vanilla until light and creamy.

Sift in the flour and cocoa and combine thoroughly. Stir in the cornflakes.

Place large tablespoonfuls onto the baking tray (I use a mini ice-cream scoop) and press each biscuit lightly with a fork to flatten slightly.

Bake for 15-20 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely before icing.  


In a cake mixer, beat the icing sugar, butter and sifted cocoa together until smooth and ice the biscuits when they are cold. Decorate with a halved walnut or a couple of coconut chips.

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Sweet New Zealand

You may have expected a nod to Halloween from some of this month’s Sweet New Zealand entries, but surprisingly there was none. To be honest, I hadn’t given much thought to it myself relying on a long driveway in the middle of the countryside as a deterrent to any trick or treaters (I had no sweets or lollies for them, you see). My assumptions were correct and no witches, warlocks or ghosts crossed my path – at least not whilst I was awake...

Whilst they may not have run with the scary theme, our New Zealand food bloggers did a magic job conjuring up their own potions and spells for October’s Sweet New Zealand and in no particular order, here they are.

First out the cauldron was the serene Sue from Couscous & Consciousness with an Apricot, Date & Pistachio Loaf. I am always up for a fruit loaf and Sue says this delicious loaf full of dried fruit, seeds and nuts was so good she can’t wait to make it again. I can’t wait to try it, Sue.

Sue's Apricot, Date & Pistachio Loaf from Couscous and Consciousness

Not one to rest on her laurels, Sue was back in the kitchen to whip up a second entry for Sweet New Zealand and I, for one, am eagerly awaiting apricot season as this Roasted Apricot Frozen Yoghurt sounds mouth-wateringly good. If, like Sue, you have a supply of frozen apricots in your freezer (why didn’t I think of that?), then what are you waiting for? Try it now – the sun is out as I speak.

Another delicious entry from Sue at Couscous and Consciousness - Roasted Apricot Frozen Yoghurt

Next up is Genie from a super little blog called Bunny Eats Design. Genie celebrated National Nut Day on 21st October (which along with Halloween also bypassed me) with these Sugar and Spice Candied Nuts. I love taking little bowls of snacks such as these to book club – especially when you’ve made them yourself.

If you love lemons as I do, then you will probably like lemon curd (and all its amazing possibilities). You’ll be glad then that Amanda from Move Love Eat has created a Healthier Lemon Curd that is also gluten free and paleo friendly! Lots of ticks there. It must be good - Amanda has been making triple batches to keep up with the demand.

A healthier Lemon Curd from Move Love Eat

If you’re looking for a moist cake that’s a bit sweet and a bit spicy, look no further than this Sticky Prune Cake from Frances at Bake Club. Just the thing to have with a cup of tea.

Sticky Prune Cake - courtesy of Frances at Bake Club

Doing things a little differently is Sweet New Zealand founder, Alessandra. Whilst in Japan she developed her very own Tiramisu di Alessandra. (She’s Italian, so if anyone can mess around with an Italian dessert, she can.) Hers is made with cream, instead of mascarpone. The topping is Italian ground coffee, not cocoa and she finds a good quality whisky makes all the difference. Well of course it does. Salute! 

Tiramisu di Alessandra - from Sweet NZ founder, Alessandra Zecchini

My own entry is this Citrus & Almond Cake with Yoghurt Drizzle

That's it from Sweet New Zealand this month.  Enjoy what is left of your weekend.

Yours truly's Citrus & Almond Cake with Yoghurt Drizzle