Yesterday my beloved and I drove to work together. This never, ever, happens (upon reflection, it’s probably the secret to domestic bliss) and by the time we’d dropped off the Small Girl and made it into the city we had managed to disagree about just about every topic you can think of.
By the time he’d made it home that night I’d thought of the one thing we hadn’t raked over in the 20 minutes in the car – whether or not walnuts belong on Afghan biscuits. He says no, I say yes. And since I make them, I get to choose. If only all marital disagreements were as easy to solve.
Unless you grew up in New Zealand, Afghan biscuits are probably a complete anathema. They don’t sound like much – a mixture of butter, sugar, cocoa, flour and cornflakes, topped with chocolate butter icing and the contentious walnut half – but, made well, they are heavenly. Unfortunately, they’re not often made that well – they’re the sort of thing you see in low-rent bakeries or on supermarket shelves. Here, the beloved and I are in total agreement. “Those supermarket ones are horrible,” he says vehemently. “They’re all flat and soggy and the icing is disgusting.”
Good Afghans – that is to say, the ones I make – are dark, rich and completely addictive. They’re the perfect contender for this month’s We Should Cocoa challenge, which guest host Rebecca of BakeNQuilt has decided is all about cookies. Throw away your Edmonds’ Cookbook instructions and make these instead.
The ultimate Afghans
My dear friend Anna taught me how to make Afghans and once you’ve made them her way, you’ll never turn back. The first secret is to cream the butter and sugar together for ages – as if you were planning a cake – and then beat it some more. Secondly, make them big. Thirdly, use the best cocoa you can – for these ones I used half the best supermarket-sourced cocoa and half Equagold Dutch process cocoa (I’m not being paid to say that, I just really like it). This recipe makes eight large Afghans.
200g unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup caster sugar
1/2 cup cocoa
1 cup plain flour
2 cups cornflakes
For the icing:
2 Tbsp unsalted butter
2 Tbsp cocoa
1 tsp golden syrup
1 cup icing sugar, sifted
8 perfect walnut halves
Heat the oven to 180C and line a baking tray with baking paper.
Cream the butter and sugar together until very soft and pale. Then beat it a bit more for good measure. Beat in the cocoa until well blended, then sift in the flour. Mix well, then stir in the cornflakes. Use your hands to ensure the mixture is well combined, but don’t crush them too much.
Divide the mixture into eight patties – mould them in the palm of your hand, as if they were burgers. Place on the prepared tray and bake for 20 minutes.
Let cool on the tray for 10 minutes, then carefully transfer to a rack to cool completely.
While you’re waiting for the biscuits to cool, make the icing. Melt the butter in a small saucepan, then add the cocoa. Stir over the heat for a minute or two, then add the golden syrup. Remove from the heat and sift in the icing sugar. Beat well, adding a teaspoon or two of hot water to get it to the right consistency.
When the biscuits are cold, top with a good splodge of the icing, then squash a walnut on top. Go on, do it.
Have a great weekend, everyone x