Max Miller recently did a podcast on Anzac Biscuits—Americans would call these “cookies.” We have not had a decent Anzac Biscuit since we visited New Zealand twenty years ago. Wife Jan decided that she really wanted some. Max always strives to use the original ingredients and methods in his show. I have no such constraints, as I always try to make any recipe my own. One problem—with any cookie actually—is that these tasty treats are not exactly diabetic friendly. While I started with Miller’s authentic 1926 Recipe for Anzac Biscuits as a basis, I substituted many of the ingredients to make them healthier for me to eat.
My first attempt was a bit of a disaster. I switched out the AP flour with whole wheat and the sugar and golden syrup with agave syrup—which are lower on the glycemic index. I figured that since the agave syrup was a liquid I could leave out the little bit of water that was in the original recipe. This turned out to be a mistake. My final product came out dry, tasteless, and hard—what my daughter Eilene called “horse biscuits.” My wife actually likes horse biscuits—long story about how she knows that—but she also asked me to try again.
With a better idea of what I was doing, I adjusted my recipe. First, I decided to toast the rolled oats—this is always is a good idea when using raw oats, as it imparts a distinctive toasted flavor to your dish. To boost the flavor further, I decided to add back some of the sugar—agave is much less sweet that sugar, which is one reason why the first batch was so bland. Instead of plain sugar, I thought to use my orange infused sugar and some cinnamon would also be a welcome addition. Vanilla enhances these flavors and Jan bought me some vanilla paste that she wanted me to try. It turned out that the little water in the original recipe was actually absolutely necessary to moisten the cookie batter. Finally, I found that the baking soda in the original recipe did not have enough to react with to produce any significant lift to the dough—leaving you with a dense hard hockey puck of a biscuit. Replacing the baking soda with baking powder gave a much more satisfying result.
Note: These cookies are dangerously delicious. While they are as diabetic friendly as I could make them, this recipe makes 4 dozen cookies. I would freeze most of them as a treat to eat over time. If you just leave them out, you will not be able to walk past without having “just one more.” While there are hints of the orange and cinnamon, the flavor of these biscuits is distinctly “oat-y”—as they should be.
Karl’s Anzac Biscuits for Diabetics
2 cups rolled oats, toasted
1 cup whole wheat flour
2 Tbs. Karl’s Orange Infused Sugar
1 tsp baking powder
½ Tbs. cinnamon
Pinch Kosher salt
½ cup (one stick) butter, melted
½ cup agave syrup
2 Tbs. water
1 tsp. vanilla paste or vanilla extract
1. Set a large sieve over a mixing bowl and add one cup of the rolled oats.
Tip: When you are toasting rolled oats it is important to sieve out the fine oat dust before putting the oats in a skillet to cook. This dust will burn in the pan long before the flakes of oats get golden brown, leaving you with burnt powder bits in the mix.
Note: Do not toss out this oat powder—just add it to the flour and other ingredients.
2. Once you have sifter out as much oat powder as you can, put the oats in a large skillet and repeat this process with the second cup of oats.
3. Set the oats over a medium heat and toast them until they start to brown.
Tip: Stir the oats frequently.
Note: Do not let any of the oats spend too much time in contact with the hot skillet. If you burn one or two flakes of the oats, carefully remove them from the pan.
4. When most of the oats have started to get brown remove them to a bowl to cool slightly.
5. Place a flour sifter in the bowl with the oat dust and add the flour, sugar, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt.
Note: As well as breaking up and clumps of flour or baking soda, sifting everything together give you a better blending of the ingredient.
6. Sift the dry ingredients together and then whisk in the cooled oats.
7. Add the butter to a large one cup measuring cup and microwave it for 30-45 seconds.
Tip: I always lay a plate over the top of the measuring cup to prevent the butter from splattering all over the inside of the microwave. Solid butter frequently has small bubbles in it. As the microwave heats up the butter, these bubbles expand and can “pop” causing the melted butter to splatter.
Note: When you remove the butter from the microwave, all of the bits of butter may not have completely melted. Set the cup aside and let the residual heat finish the job.
8. Add the agave syrup, water, and vanilla to the completely melted butter.
Tip: When you add the various ingredients to the cup they will separate into layers—the agave on the bottom, the butter above and the water and vanilla floating on top. Use a small whisk to emulsify them until you have an evenly colored mixture—this may take a minute.
Note: This is why you want to start with a high sided one cup measure. The total liquid ingredients will be just over one cup and you do not want the contents to splash out as you are whisking them together.
9. Make a well in the dry ingredients and add the liquid ingredients to the bowl.
10. Stir the ingredients together until there are no streaks of dry flour.
Note: You do not want to over mix the dough. While you want it to be thoroughly combined you do not want to let too much gluten to form, which would make for a “tough cookie.”
11. Line two large baking pans with parchment paper and preheat the oven to 350° F.
Note: The oven rack should be in the center of the oven. If you have more than one pan of cookies you should bake them separately.
12. Form the dough into one inch balls and space them out over the baking pan.
Tip: A one tablespoon cookie scoop makes this quite easy.
13. Use a fork to flatten the dough balls into two inch disks about a quarter inch thick.
Tip: You want your disks spaced about half an inch apart.
Note: These cookies do not spread out as they cook, so there is no danger of them merging into a mass as they bake.
14. Bake each pan of cookies for 15 minutes at 350° F.
Tip: Rotate the pan halfway through to ensure even baking.
Note: The back of the oven is always just a few degrees hotter than the front of the oven.
15. Allow the biscuits to cool in the pan for 5 minutes, then transfer them to a wire rack to cool completely.