AUSTRALIA - Anzac biscuits
Anzac biscuits are a traditional Australian biscuit made on ANZAC day - April 25. ANZAC day is a remembrance of soldiers who fought in Gallipoli. Anzac biscuits are to Australians what chocolate chip cookies are to Americans.
Makes about 40
1 cup rolled oats
1 cup plain flour
1/2 cup sugar
3/4 cup dessicated coconut
2 tablespoons golden syrup*
1/2 cup butter
1/2 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
1 tablespoon boiling water
Mix oats, flour, sugar and coconut. Melt syrup and butter together. Mix soda with boiling water and add to melted butter and syrup, add to dry ingredients. Place teaspoonfuls of mixture well spaced on a greased baking sheet.
Bake at 300 F for 20 minutes.
Note: * if you are unable to locate golden syrup, Ochef recommends substituting it with 2 parts light corn syrup and 1 part molasses or equal parts of honey and light corn syrup.
CANADA - Nanaimo bars
Nanaimo Bars are a traditional Canadian bar cookie whose origins are in Nanaimo, British Columbia.
1/2 cup unsalted butter (Euro-style cultured)
1/4 cup sugar
5 tablespoons cocoa
1 egg, beaten
1 3/4 cup graham wafer crumbs
1/2 cup finely chopped almonds
1 cup coconut
Melt first 3 ingredients in top of a double boiler. Add egg and stir to cook and thicken Remove from heat. Stir in crumbs, coconut and nuts. Press firmly into an ungreased 8 X 8 pan.
1/2 cup unsalted butter
2 tablespoons and 2 tsp. cream
2 tablespoons vanilla custard powder (such as Birds — see Note below)
2 cups icing sugar
Cream butter, cream, custard powder and icing sugar together well. Beat until light. Spread over bottom layer.
4 squares semi-sweet chocolate (1 oz. each)
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
Melt chocolate and butter over low heat. Cool When cool, but still liquid, pour over second layer and chill in refrigerator.
Note: Birds custard powder is widely available in the UK and Canada. However, it is harder to find in other areas of the world. If you are unable to find it, try the Napoleon Creams recipe which uses vanilla pudding. It’s not quite the same, but it is a good substitute.
GREECE - Kourabiedes
Kourabiedes, a butter cookie, are also known as Almond Crescents.
Makes about 30
1/2 cup ground almonds
1 cup unsalted butter, softened
1 egg yolk
2 tablespoons powdered sugar
1 tablespoon brandy
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
2 cups powdered sugar
Preheat oven to 350F. Spread almonds in a shallow pan and toast in oven for 6 to 8 minutes or until lightly browned. Decrease oven temperature to 325F. Let almonds cool completely.
In large bowl of an electric mixer, beat butter until creamy. Add egg yolk and the 2 tablespoons powdered sugar, mixing well. Stir in brandy and almonds. In another bowl, stir together flour and
baking powder. Gradually add to butter mixture, blending thoroughly. Pinch off dough in 1-inch balls and roll each into a 3-inch rope. Place ropes about 2 inches apart on ungreased cookie sheets. Shape into crescents. Put a whole clove in each cookie. Bake for 30 minutes or until lightly golden.
Let cookies cool for 5 minutes. Sift about half the 2 cups powdered sugar over a sheet of waxed paper. Transfer the cookies to the waxed paper and then sift the rest of the powdered sugar on top of them, so that they are well covered with powdered sugar. Let stand until cool. Store airtight. Remove clove from cookie before eating it.
PERU - Alfajores
Alfajores are an almond-flavored shortbread sandwich cookie with a rich caramel filling in the middle. Popular in South American countries.
Makes about 24
For the cookies:
1-1/2 cups unsalted butter
1 cup confectioners’ sugar
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon almond extract
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/3 cup ground almonds (can be ground in a food processor)
3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
For the filling:
2 cups firmly packed brown sugar
1 cup half & half or light cream or evaporated milk
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
To make the cookies:
Cream the butter with the powdered sugar until fluffy. Stir in salt, extracts, ground almonds and flour. Wrap and chill 30 minutes. (If you chill longer, you have to let the dough warm up a bit before it can be rolled. Or, do what professional pastry chefs do: whack it with a rolling pin until it becomes more malleable).
Mealwhile, make the filling:
In a medium saucepan, heat brown sugar with cream over medium heat. As it cooks, brush inner sides of pan with a pastry brush dipped in cold water. This wipes away grainy sugar crystals. Heat until mixture reaches soft ball stage (238-240 F). Remove from heat - let cool to about 110 F. Stir in the butter and beat until mixture is thickened. Add vanilla. (Heat to loosen or add additional cream). If mixture is too thin, add in confectioners’ sugar.
To bake the cookies:
Roll out dough 1/4 inch thick. Cut in 2-1/2-inch circles. Bake on a parchment-lined baking sheet at 350 F for 12-14 minutes. Cool baking sheets
between batches. Cool cookies on wire racks.
To assemble Alfajores:
Spread some caramel filling on a cookie. Top
with another cookie and press together nicely. Be careful, these are fragile. Dust tops with confectioner’s sugar.
YUGOSLAVIA - Yugoslavian Christmas Cookies
This Christmas cookie is an unusual and incredibly sublime cookie. It has crunchy nut and meringue topping over the berry shortbread crust and has a clean, crisp addition of lemon extract.
Makes about 36
For the base:
2-1/4 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup chopped toasted walnuts
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup butter, softened
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3/4 cup seedless red raspberry jam
For the topping:
4 egg whites at room temperature
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
1 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup ground walnuts
3 ounces unsweetened chocolate, melted and cooled to room temperature
1/3 cup finely chopped walnuts
Pre-heat oven to 350 F. Grease a 15 x 10-inch jelly roll pan. To prepare cookie base, combine flour, nuts, cinnamon and salt in a medium bowl; set aside. In a large mixing bowl beat butter, sugar and vanilla until light and fluffy. Stir in flour mixture; blend well. Turn into prepared pan and smooth the surface. Evenly spread jam over dough; set aside.
To prepare topping, beat egg whites and cream of tartar in a large mixing bowl at medium speed until soft peaks form. Increase speed to medium-high; add sugar, 1 tablespoon at a time, until egg whites form very stiff glossy peaks. Gently fold in ground nuts and melted chocolate. Spoon dollops of meringue over jam, spread evenly. Sprinkle meringue with chopped nuts.
Bake 5 minutes, remove pan from oven. Using a very sharp or serrated knife, lightly score surface of meringue into 2-inch squares (8 x 5). Continue baking 20 to 30 minutes or until meringue is firm to the touch. Cool in pan on rack. Cut into squares. Store in airtight container at room temperature for up to 4 days.
POLAND - Kolaczki
Kolache is a type of pastry that holds a dollop of fruit rimmed by a puffy pillow of supple dough. Originating as a semisweet wedding dessert from Central Europe, they have become popular in parts of the United States.
For the dough:
1 pound cream cheese, softened
4 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 pound butter or margarine (softened)
2 egg whites
For the filling (choose one or more of the following):
nut filling (recipe below)
Combine cream cheese and butter until smooth. Add flour gradually, until a soft dough ball has formed. Cover and chill overnight. Preheat oven to 350 F. Roll out small sections of dough. (Keep remaining dough chilled.) Cut dough into rectangles roughly 1 1/2 x 2 inches. Place filling on one corner of the pastry and roll it up. Seal the edge with egg white. Alternately, cut dough into squares, place filling in center and bring opposite corners together in the center of the filling. Bake for 12 to 15 minutes.
1 pound ground walnuts
2 cups sugar
Combine nuts and sugar. Gradually add water until mixture forms a stiff paste.
Note: In English, these are sometimes also spelled Kolaches.