(Originally published, Aug-2015, then updated by Tania, May-2018)
These small, chocolate biscuits are a favourite with us Kiwis. They are made with crunchy cornflakes, covered with sweet chocolate icing and topped with walnut halves.
The exact origin of the Afghan biscuit is somewhat a mystery and why they were named Afghans is also unknown, there are a few theories but I’ve chosen the cutest one that suggests they are named after the Afghan Hound.
Afghans have been in several editions of The Edmonds Cookery Book, which is the go-to recipe book (especially for baking) for New Zealanders since 1908 and I don’t know many Kiwis of my generation that don’t have an edition and if not, their parents or grandparents probably do.
300 g / 10 ½ oz butter (at room temperature)
2/3 cup castor sugar (superfine)
2 cups standard flour (loosely packed, for a lighter biscuit)
1/3 cup good-quality, unsweetened cocoa powder
1 tablespoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon salt
3 ½ cups cornflakes
24 walnut halves
2 cups icing sugar (confectioner’s sugar)
2 tablespoons of unsweetened cocoa powder
30 g / 1 oz of butter (at room temperature)
¼ teaspoon vanilla extract
¼ cup boiling water
Makes 24 small
STEP BY STEP
Preheat the oven to 150°C / 300°F fan/convection oven or 175°C / 350°F conventional oven, on bake, with a rack situated in the centre of the oven.
The butter needs to be super soft for this recipe so if it isn’t at a warm room temperature cut it into small cubes and place it in the microwave and use the 50% / ½ power setting for 1 minute and then 30-second increments after that until it’s soft (you don’t want any melty bits though, this will make the dough too soft and sticky).
Not all older microwaves have the half power function so another thing you can do when you need soft butter for creaming is this…Cut it into small cubes and then place it on a plate. Next, fill a heatproof bowl with boiling water and then tip the water out straight away. Place the hot, upturned bowl over the butter and leave it there for say 5 minutes for a small amount of butter and 10 for a larger amount, or simply until it reaches your desired softness (with a large amount of butter you may need to do it twice).
So, if the butter is nicely softened add it to a large bowl with the castor sugar.
Using an electric beater (or bench mixer) on medium/high speed, cream the butter and sugar together for around 3 minutes or until it’s light and fluffy and has paled in colour.
Then, scrape the bowl down and add the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder and salt and still using the beater, mix it all together until just combined.
Next, add the cornflakes and beat them in until they are just combined also.
Line two baking trays with non-stick baking paper, lightly spray them all over with cooking spray and set them aside.
Divide the dough into 24 x 35 g / 1 ¼ oz pieces (it doesn’t have to be precise, just either side of that weight is fine).
- If you don’t own digital scales each biscuit is around 2 tablespoons of dough.
- I like to weigh my biscuits so they are all the same size. It ensures that they are cooked at the same size rather than have some underbaked, some overbaked and some just right.
- There will probably be a little bit of ‘cookie dough’ left that’s not enough for a whole biscuit so you can do one of two things…eat it…:) or simply divide it up and add it to the others.
Next, roll 12 of them into fairly smooth balls.
Place the balls of dough on the tray.
- They are better not in perfect rows, so the heat can move around them easily, cooking them more evenly.
Then flatten them down a little, using a metal spatula or a fork.
Pop them in the oven and bake them for 20 minutes or until they are just firm to the touch in the centres.
Now that the first tray is in the oven, roll out the other 12 and get them ready to go into the oven as soon as the other tray is cooked.
Leave them on the tray for 10 minutes before using a spatula to transfer them to a cooling rack.
Once the /’bikkies’ are on the cooling rack you can make the icing.
First, boil your jug/kettle.
Then, cut the butter into very small cubes and place it and all the other ingredients into a medium-sized bowl.
Mix it all together, use the back of the spoon to push the butter against the sides of the bowl to help blend it in.
Leave it to sit for 10 – 15 minutes to allow it to thicken slightly.
Spoon some chocolate icing over each Afghan (I use the back of the spoon to spread it over) and then…
…place a walnut half in the centre of each biscuit before the chocolate icing sets too much.
Leave them out until the chocolate icing has set before placing them in a container or cookie jar.
Keepin’ em fresh – Store them in an airtight container, in the pantry, for up to a week.