Anzac Biscuits; a Tuesdays with Dorie post

IMG_7493How time flies…We have been so busy here; the garden takes so much of our attention and leaves little time for anything else.  The space the garden occupies is the footprint of the garden that was maintained by the man who once lived here but has since passed away.  Funny coincidence, he too was a member of the master gardeners and more than one of my fellow members remembers him and stranger still, several of them would come here to help him in the garden.  It has been interesting to learn about him and the methods he used here.

When we hold our monthly meetings, we always have a potluck dinner.  Along with a large platter of salad greens fresh from our garden, I brought a tray of cookies.  Well, we call them cookies but to the folks in Australia where this recipe originates from, they call them biscuits.  If you take the time to read about the recipe in the book Dorie’s Cookies, you will learn that Anzac is an acronym for Australian and New Zealand Army Corps and that the history of the cookie suggests that it is a wartime recipe and was most likely favored because it was easy to ship.  Interesting to say the least but truthfully, tasty cookies worth the effort!

IMG_7490The recipe calls for golden syrup, a traditional British and Australian favorite but I used wildflower honey; it tasted awesome in the cookies.  Oatmeal and coconut are the other predominant flavors but the surprise is that the cookies contain no eggs!

IMG_7487Crispy and chewy at the same time.  These went fast at the potluck and I received many compliments.  The verdict; must make these again!  May even pick up some golden syrup just to see if it makes a difference.

IMG_7495To see how the other bakers did, check out the website.  Feel like baking along with us?  Pick up a copy of the book and get to work!

last minute cookies; coconut spritz

img_0426If you are like 99% of the people I know, you are in a hurry and trying to get everything done; baking, cooking, cleaning, shopping, wrapping and more.  Even though I am still trying to get my house unpacked from the move, I am also trying to do some holiday baking because it just isn’t Christmas without a small truckload of cookies in the house!  The good news is, that I have found one of the quickest and easiest recipes to prepare.

Coconut Spritz cookies are easy to mix and just as easy to shape.  While the dough can be shaped with a cookie press, it can also be scooped out and pressed with a cookie stamp, a flat bottomed glass or even the palm of your hand.  However, if you have a cookie press, use it, it will save you some time and produce cookies that are consistent in size.  One note, this dough is a bit high in fat and on the soft side.  Like most Spritz recipes, you should press the dough directly onto a sheet pan that is not non-stick or lined with any kind of paper.  While this may go against all you know about cookie baking, if you try to use paper or a treated pan, the dough cannot stick as you press it out and you will spend your time fighting with the press.  Do not worry, after baking, you will be able to get them off the pans by simply letting them set for a minute and then lifting them with a thin spatula.

The coconut flavor mainly comes from the oil so be sure to use a virgin oil that has not been refined and stripped of the flavor.  This recipe also calls for finely shredded coconut and if you plan to use the press, it must be extremely fine.  Whether it is sweetened or not is hardly important but in this case, size absolutely matters! If you cannot find it at the grocery store, try a Latino market, that is where I found mine.

img_7278Coconut Spritz Cookies

makes about 72 pressed cookies

1 cup coconut oil, at room temperature-not melted

5.4 oz sugar (153 g, 3/4 cup)

1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1/4 teaspoon salt

2 large egg yolks

10.75 oz unbleached all purpose flour (305 g, 2 1/4 cups)

1/8 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 oz extra fine shredded coconut (14 g, 1/4 cup)

3-4 tablespoons heavy cream

Coarse sugar for sprinkling

Preheat the oven to 350.  In a mixing bowl, cream the coconut oil with the sugar, vanilla and salt until well blended but do not mix it too long-the oil may begin to melt.  Add the egg yolks and mix to combine, scrape the bowl well.  Stir in the flour and baking powder and then the coconut.  Mix until it comes together.  Add the heavy cream, 1 tablespoon at a time until you have a dough that is soft and easy to shape.  You may not need all of it, and the more you add, the more the cookies spread in the oven.

Using the press, deposit the cookies onto the baking pans, leaving at least 1 inch between them.  Sprinkle the top of each cookie with a little coarse sugar.  Bake until golden around the edges, about 12 minutes.  Rotate the pans halfway through baking.  Let the hot cookies set for a minute then remove them from the pan with a thin, metal spatula and cool completely on a rack.  Store in an airtight container for about a week-if they last that long…

If not using a press, use a small portion scoop such as a #50 scoop.  Dip the top of each ball of dough into the coarse sugar and place onto a pan.  Flatten them slightly with a cookie stamp, the flat bottom of a glass or your hand.  Baking times will depend on the size of the scoop used, watch them closely and adjust the time as needed.


coconut tapioca; a tuesdays with dorie post


Tapioca is one of those foods you either love or hate.  Personally, I have fond memories of tapioca pudding from my childhood; my mother would mix up the instant pudding from a box and pour it into small pyrex bowls and topped it with a gentle shake of ground nutmeg. It was a bit eggy in flavor and mostly custard but it did have a small amount of actual tapioca grains in it.  In our house, it was a rare treat and a food memory I recall every now and then.  When I wrote my second cookbook, I included a recipe for tapioca pudding that came pretty close to my recollection of that flavor.

When I saw that we would be preparing tapioca for this weeks Tuesdays with Dorie challenge, I hoped the resulting custard would be a new twist on an old favorite.  Honestly, the two custards contain tapioca but that is where the similarity ends.  This recipe uses pearl tapioca and it is cooked with coconut milk, milk, sugar and vanilla-not an egg in sight.  Finding pearl tapioca can be a challenge unless you have Asian markets near you and since we moved to Williamsburg, the closest one is about 30 minutes away and it just is not convenient to drive that for a single ingredient.  My vision of pastel colored pearls in a rich coconut milk custard will have to wait until the next time I am in Newport News.

After dinner on Sunday evening, my husband and I went to the grocery store to pick up a few things and if I was lucky, a box of pearl tapioca.  With fingers crossed, I wandered from aisle to aisle.  Natural foods? Nope.  Gluten free foods?  Not there either.  International aisle?  No such luck.  Then I walked down the baking aisle.  Success was had right between the boxes of pudding and custard mixes!  Surprisingly, I had my choice of large pearls or small pearls and since I could not remember what the recipe called for, I chose small pearls.

Tapioca is a starch and like all other starches, it swells when it is soaked in water.  In the photo above, the perfectly round spheres are pearl tapioca with the larger ones being those that were soaked overnight.  The small, uneven grains are instant tapioca.  

The pearls expand and become translucent as they cook and this happens pretty quickly at a gentle simmer.  The recipe calls for full fat coconut milk and whole milk but since we do not keep milk in the house, I traded whole milk for some almond milk.  To alter the flavor, I used a small piece of vanilla bean, subbed a tablespoon of our own wildflower honey for a tablespoon of the sugar and added some rosewater to intensify the floral notes of the honey.


Dorie gives visual clues in the recipe to help you determine doneness.  Why don’t more recipe writers do this?  She tells you the milk will thicken and the pearls will sit just below the surface.  These two hints are pretty clearly visible in the photo above.


The tapioca will be slightly chewy when done and will fall apart with gentle pressure from your tongue.  For some, that texture is a problem, but not for me, I enjoyed it completely and not once did this remind me of the tapioca pudding of my childhood.

IMG_3562Vintage linens and violets were a natural choice to accompany such an old-fashioned custard.  The violets are actually Confederate violets, a common lawn flower here in Virginia, and no, I do not consider them weeds!  Earlier this spring, during the peak bloom time, I picked them by the bowl and made my own violet liqueur but that is a post for another day.


Violets have a faint odor that cannot be detected with just one bloom but a bowl of them steeped in syrup is slightly intoxicating.


Sadly, the flowers only appear for a few weeks in early spring so if you are lucky to find them in your lawn, be sure to try infusing them into syrup or a clear alcohol such as a potato vodka.  In the mean time, visit the Tuesdays with Dorie website and check out the LYL page to see how my fellow bakers fared.  And if the mood strikes, cook up a pot of coconut tapioca.  For the recipe, you will need to buy a copy of the book since we do not publish the recipes.