Saturday, April 25th, was ANZAC day here in New Zealand and Australia. ANZAC stands for Australian and New Zealand Army Corps and this year marking one hundred years since the beginning of World War One made the commemorations particularly significant. The rituals on Anzac Day range from family to family but the Anzac biscuit (it is a cookie, but we also say “bikkie” for short) is ubiquitous. Anzac biscuits – made with oats, flour and golden syrup – were supposedly good for enduring distances so they were sent to soldiers at the front, packaged up in tins and accompanied by love letters, photos and knitted sox.
Anzac day is special for our family for a lot of reasons. It’s the birthday of Matt’s grandfather, James, who produced an impressive quantity of offspring, many of whom bear his name as their first or second. Our very own B2 was born on Anzac day too, arriving at dawn, three whole years ago. It’s a public holiday, the beginning of Autumn, a time for reflection and watching documentaries and cosying up with one another. A time to visit the War Memorial museum, remember our grandparents, line the baking trays, stir the mixture.
This year, instead of giving you an Anzac bikkie recipe, I’m VERY excited to offer you a biscuit recipe direct from the pages of my book: Season of Salt and Honey. (It is our month of salt and honey, after all) These biscuits are called Nzuddi and were originally baked by nuns at Monastero di San Vincenzo in Catania in Sicily. Nzuddi is the diminuitive form of Vincenzo. In other words you could call anglicize and call them “Vinnies”. They are simple and good, not too sweet and truly perfect with tea or espresso. Made with roasted almonds and fragranced with citrus, they’re uplifting but not too happy, too peppy, if you know what I mean. They’re humble. They’re unfussy. They’re old-fashioned. Both grown-ups and kids approve of them (although my kids remove the offending almond from the top, just like they remove the walnut from afghan biscuits. One day they’ll be hunting out the biscuit with the BIGGEST nut on top. Mark my words, kiddos.)
What is odd is that Nzuddi taste very familiar. As though you should remember your grandmother always having a tin of them, giving them to visitors, forever propping one on the edge of her tea saucer. This strange nostalgia must be due to the magic alchemy of flour, roasted almond and orange zest. Or, perhaps, whispered blessings the nuns at San Vincenzo said when they made them.
(from Season of Salt and Honey by Hannah Tunnicliffe)
Makes approx 30 cookies – Will keep in an airtight container for up to two weeks
200 grams plain flour
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
200 grams roasted almonds (unsalted)
200 grams caster sugar
1 tablespoon finely grated orange zest
2 teaspoons baking powder
Juice of half a lemon
3/4 cup caster sugar
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
100 grams roasted almonds (unsalted)
- Chop almonds or pulse in a blender until finely diced. Preheat oven to 180 degrees centigrade / 350 fahrenheit. Line a baking tray with baking paper.
- Sift flour and cinnamon into a large bowl then add almonds, sugar and orange zest. Mix well before turning out onto a counter. Make a well in the centre and break eggs into it. Beat lightly with a fork and then add lemon juice and baking powder. Continue mixing all ingredients with a fork until thick and slightly sticky.
- Combine caster sugar and cinnamon for decorating in a flat bottomed bowl. Take a teaspoon of mixture at a time, form into a ball before rolling in the sugar + cinnamon mixture.
- Place the balls onto the prepared baking sheet and then add a whole roasted almond to each ball, pressing down lightly.
- Bake for about 15 minutes, until the nzuddi are golden brown. Allow to cool completely before serving.
We hope you have been enjoying this month of Salt and Honey as much as we have!
Which cookie / bikkie makes you nostalgic?