To commemorate Anzac Day, these traditional Anzac biscuits are spiked with cinnamon and browned butter and then sandwiched together with a dense layer of fluffy, creamy coconut buttercream frosting. Sweet, crunchy, and slightly nutty, you’ll have trouble stopping at just one!
For those of you who don’t keep a running tab of world holidays, you probably haven’t heard of Anzac Day unless you live or have spent some time in Australia. This important day remembers the brave Australian men and women who died during the World Wars, which began with the landing of Gallipoli in 1915. During the first World War, the soldier’s wives would bake these crunchy biscuits to send to the troops. These cookies, today known as Anzac biscuits, were made from readily available ingredients that both didn’t spoil and travelled well. Ingredients such as rolled oats, flour, sugar, butter, and golden syrup were the main components during the war, but today the cookies also feature desiccated coconut, spices, and other modern additions.
Before I moved to Australia, I’d never heard of Anzac Day or its commemorative treat. And before two days ago, I’d never even tried an Anzac biscuit, even though they are sold at pretty much every café and bakery in Canberra. However, when my boyfriend asked me if I’d make some Anzacs, I was up for the challenge. They seemed relatively easy in comparison to other things I’ve baked.
As I looked through a few different recipes online, I realised that they sounded very much like my grandmother’s recipe for oatmeal cookies. I was game. I love oatmeal cookies.
While I wanted to stay mostly traditional for this recipe in honour of Anzac Day tomorrow, I couldn’t help myself from adding a little bit of my own modern spin to these special cookies. I couldn’t leave out cinnamon! Oatmeal and cinnamon are two peas in a pod! You can’t have one without the other, in my opinion. I also decided to brown the butter used for these cookies. Oh my god, you guys! I’m not sure whether women in the 1900’s knew about browned butter, but I like to think someone must have made the happy mistake at least once. Don’t skip the browning step, it’s crucial for the slightly nutty, caramelly flavour that comes through in these biscuits. It is mandatory. (If you’ve never browned butter before, take a look at my tips section at the bottom of the recipe – there’s a great tutorial there from Joy the Baker.)
So cinnamon and browned butter. Sounds like a good enough modern twist, right? Nope. I didn’t stop there either. Instead I decided to sandwich these guys together using a thick layer of coconut buttercream. The fluffy cream with a subtle flavour of coconut works perfectly with the nutty, crunchy biscuits. These sandwiches are so delicious! And they’re 100% Aussie approved!
- 1 cup flour
- 1 cup rolled oats
- 1 cup brown sugar
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- ½ cup unsweetened, desiccated coconut*
- 125g unsalted butter, browned
- 1 tbsp water
- 2 tbsp golden syrup
- ½ tsp baking soda
- 113g unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 1¾ cup confectioner's sugar
- ½ tsp vanilla extract
- 1¼ tsp coconut extract
- pinch of salt
- Preheat the oven to 175 C (350 F) and line two cookie trays with non-stick paper. In a large bowl, combine the flour, oats, brown sugar, cinnamon, and desiccated coconut. Stir well and set aside.
- In a medium saucepan over medium-low heat, brown the butter. Once it has browned, immediately remove the butter from the heat and stir in the water. Pour the butter into a separate bowl and whisk in the golden syrup and baking soda until combined. Add the wet ingredients into the dry and stir well until a loose dough forms and no floury bits remain.
- Roll the dough into balls a little smaller than a ping-pong ball and evenly distribute them among the lined trays. You may have to squeeze the dough a bit to make it stick together. Bake the biscuits for 15–17 minutes until golden brown. Allow them to cool on the tray for 5 minutes, then remove to a wire rack to cool completely before frosting.
- In a medium bowl, use an electric mixer to cream the butter and confectioner's sugar together. It is easiest if you incorporate the sugar a ½ cup at a time to avoid lumps. Once all the sugar is mixed in and the frosting is fluffy, add the vanilla, coconut extract, and salt and whiz to combine.
- Match your cookies according to size so that you don't have any lopsided sandwiches and turn half the biscuits upside down. Fix a star nozzle to a piping bag and fill the bag with the buttercream frosting. Pipe the frosting in a circle at the centre of each upside down cookie, leaving a little bit of naked edge around the cookie. Place the matching biscuits on top of the frosted halves and gently press down so the frosting spreads to the edges.
- These cookies will keep in an airtight container for up to 5 days.
Does your country have any holiday-specialized desserts?