Treat me: The ultimate Afghans

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



  1. November 15, 2013 / 11:21 am

    ooooh… it's arguments like this that can eat away at you and destroy a perfectly good biscuit… whichever way you go it has my support as it looks gorgeous!

  2. November 15, 2013 / 12:29 pm

    I grew up thinking afghans were Australian because they were part of my childhood – one of my favourite bikkies – and was quite surprised to find they were NZ. We always had walnuts on them and my mum used to put a slurp of sherry in the icing – I am not sure if this was done when we were quite small but I suspect she needed it 🙂 I agree they are an amazing biscuit and they sound like just what you need after driving to work together 🙂

    • November 25, 2013 / 7:18 am

      I think they're like lamingtons and pavlova – and now's not the time to start that debate. I do like the sound of sherry in the icing though…

  3. November 15, 2013 / 12:30 pm

    I've only ever eaten 1 afghan, and that was in a coffee shop in east london. Since then, I havent stopped thinking about them! I've seen soooo many recipes online but none of them convinced me bake them, obviously until I saw this! Agree that they should be large cookies, it took me ages to finish mine. Also agree they should aways have a walnut on top!

    • November 25, 2013 / 7:18 am

      Afghans in east London? Oh no, they've become hip!

  4. November 15, 2013 / 4:23 pm

    I've never heard of Afghan biscuits before. They would be lovely with a cup of tea x

  5. November 15, 2013 / 5:41 pm

    Wow! Those look fantastic and are going on my short list. I've never heard of Afghan biscuits before. Thanks so much for playing along with We Should Cocoa!

  6. November 15, 2013 / 11:16 pm

    I've eaten a biscuit very much like this in the past but I had no idea it was called an Afghan biscuit. Yum is all I can say. But I'm really not sure that I'd add the walnut – it must be a man thing.

  7. November 17, 2013 / 2:39 am

    mmm … these are worthy of a bake session … and I'm with you … walnut atop.

  8. November 20, 2013 / 12:55 am

    we have afghans in australia! my mum makes them. but she hasn't for a while so i can't recall if they have walnuts in them… good excuse to make them again, soon!

  9. November 20, 2013 / 1:34 am

    I can't imagine an afghan without the walnut, it just wouldn't be the same biscuit. I haven't eaten one for ages, but your post has just reminded me how delicious they are so now I know what I'll be baking this weekend.

  10. November 20, 2013 / 9:28 pm

    A million thank yous, Lucy – you just sold one of my Xmas present dilemnas. I have a lovely work friend who I was planning to bake a batch of bikkies for, as she is a real cookie addict. I was having trouble deciding what specifically to make though until I saw this post. Afghans are her absolute favourite, and she often laments that she tried making them once but they were such a flop she's never tried again. These will make the perfect gift for her, most definitely with the walnut on top. Thanks again for sharing them.

    • November 25, 2013 / 7:17 am

      This makes me so happy, thank you! Don't forget to give her the recipe as well – she might make you some in return!

  11. November 21, 2013 / 9:19 pm

    Now why, I'm wondering, in the six months I was in NZ, did I never come across an Afghan – good or otherwise? They sound wonderful, although I'm quite happy not to take sides on the walnut issue and I've bookmarked the recipe.

  12. November 23, 2015 / 12:06 pm

    Afghans are awesome! I have just started to remake them with a new food processor. The walnut is vital, it is the bitter on the sweet. Without it …would be like Pavlova with no cream and strawberries.
    There is certainly an art to getting the Afghan just right, and creaming the butter and sugar seems to be the key.

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