And the meek (biscuit) shall inherit the earth

I was lucky enough to spend a couple of weeks in Australia last May.  The first week was work in Sydney and then I flew over to Melbourne and met TD for a little RNR.

We’d been to Melbourne before but left behind some unfinished business in the form of the Great Ocean Road as well as a host of untried restaurants, as yet to be imbibed cocktails and un-strummed scenic fall strolls.

We enjoyed ourselves immensely.

As I think I’ve mentioned before, I like to pick up a few new recipes while in-country as opposed to hauling back souvenirs.  This practice helps keep my luggage weight under control and is a delightful excuse to try exotic treats in the name of research.

To wit, our last trips to Australia yielded a batch of Lamingtons, Cherry Rip Bonbons and Jude Bolton Bars.

Funny thing about those Jude Bolton Bars…I actually met him while in Sydney during this trip.  The faculty I was traveling with arranged to have him meet our group while we were touring the Sydney Cricket Grounds, where the Australian Football League’s Sydney Swans call home.  My faculty friend is friends with Mr. Bolton and in the days leading up to the visit, she sent him the post I wrote.  Now, it’s been a few years so I’ll remind you, the post was written as a humorous but genuine tribute to Jude’s…athletic superiority.  It was also not meant to be read by him.  Nor did I intend to ever meet him in real life.

When the moment of the meeting came, we were both embarrassed.  His embarrassment was charming.  Mine was that of a dirty old woman who had been caught, literally, with her hand in the cookie jar.  Thanks JP.

But anyway.  Back to baking.

The first recipe I “brought back” with me from Australia is for Anzac biscuits.  I’d heard of Anzac biscuits prior to our trip–mostly through literature.  I swear there is mention of them in M.L. Steman’s, Light between the Oceans.  And there is an entire scene about them in Liane Moriarty’s The Hypnotist’s Love Story (one of my favorites of hers).

Since they aren’t as well known here in the States, I’ll give you the two sentence explanation.  ANZAC stands for Australia New Zealand Army Corps. During World War I, families would pack their soldiers these oatmeal-coconut cookies in care packages because while they would harden, they wouldn’t spoil.    Australian’s celebrate ANZAC Day each year in late April.  Similar to Memorial Day in the U.S., the day is one of remembrance for those who fought and died in any conflict for Australia or New Zealand.

I’ll admit, I completely underestimated these wholesome little treats.  I thought they’d be fun to make once and then I’d be done with them.  Well, I was wrong.  These seemingly simple biscuits are rich and flavorful.  The oatmeal gives them a bit of heft while the coconut and brown sugar make them taste like an exotic far-off-island (or in this case, island nation).  Need further proof that you should make these?  Several people asked me for the recipe.  That never happens!

Anzac Biscuits

(read through the ingredients and my notes first–these call for a couple of unusual additions).


  • 1 C rolled oats (in reviewing recipes I saw calls for both old fashioned and quick cooking.  I opted for old fashioned because I wanted the additional texture)
  • 1 C all purpose plain flour
  • 2/3 C golden brown sugar
  • 2/3 C desiccated coconut (desiccated coconut is hard to find.  The first time I made these I ordered the coconut via Amazon.  After that I just chopped up unsweetened shredded and hoped for the best.  It’s work just fine so far)
  • 1/2 C or 1 stick of  butter chopped
  • 2 TBS golden syrup (you can find this on Amazon.  If you aren’t committed to tryin golden syrup, sub-in corn syrup)
  • 1 tsp baking soda


  1. Preheat oven to 325 F.
  2. Line 3 baking trays with parchment.
  3. Fold together the oats, flour, sugar and coconut in a bowl.
  4. Add butter, syrup and 2 tablespoons of cold water to a saucepan over medium heat.
  5. Stir for 2 minutes or until butter has melted.
  6. Stir in baking soda
  7. Add the butter mixture to the dry ingredients and fold until combined.
  8. Roll level tablespoons of mixture into balls. (as a note, the uncooked cookie balls freeze well)
  9. Place on trays, 2 inches apart and flatten slightly.
  10. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes or until light golden.
  11. Leave on the baking trays for 5 minutes.
  12. Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

Ayyyye Churro Macarona!

Can you believe that when I met him TD had never had a churro?  You think you know someone and BAM a little fact like that slips out.

On the one hand, I’ll admit it was pretty ethnocentric of me to believe that the churro was as ubiquitous in other parts of the country as it is in Southern California.  On the other hand, we’re talking about a man who lists the Choco Taco as a favorite dessert. Explains a lot doesn’t it?

Whether or not churros are a part of your cultural landscape, you can’t deny the allure of cinnamon and sugar together.  Add in a cinnamon infused cream cheese filling and you’ve got yourself an easy win.

Churro Macarons

cinnamon shells with cinnamon cream cheese filling and a dusting of cinnamon sugar on top

for the shells, makes 18-20 shells for 9-10 finished cookies


  • 60 grams almond meal
  • 100 grams confectioner’s sugar
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 50 grams egg whites
  • 20 grams granulated sugar

Note: I did not use food coloring in these guys because the little flecks on cinnamon were too pretty to cover up.


  • Preheat oven to 315 degrees.  Line two baking sheets with parchment.  I like to draw the circles with Sharpie on a couple of pieces of parchment as a stencil. In order to use them multiple times I lay another piece of parchment over the top.
  • Weigh and measure out all of your ingredients.  When I’m making multiple batches I actually weigh out the almond flour, sugar and any other dry ingredients into separate zip-lock baggies and label them.
  • In a food processor fitted with a blade, pulse together almond meal, cinnamon and confectioner’s sugar.  Give it a few pulses then sift into a medium bowl.  Set aside.
  • In a standing mixer fitted with the whisk attachment (or an electric hand mixer), add the egg whites.  Beat on medium low until frothy.
  • Increase the speed and slowly add the granulated sugar and pinch of salt.
  • Beat eggs until they form soft peaks.
  • Working in three batches, add first portion of almond meal mixture to the egg-whites.  Gently fold until just combined.  Repeat with the additional two portions of meal folding to combine while using as few folds as possible.
  • To test if the batter is ready to pipe, scoop about 1/4 tsp onto a flat surface.  The batter should act like lava and spread enough to lose its peak but not its shape.  I usually do this test several times starting at the point where everything is just combined.  If you under-mix the batter you can always give it a few more folds.  However, you are out of luck if you over mix.  So, err on the side of multiple tests.
  • When the batter is ready, pour it into your piping bag.  To be honest, I don’t bother with a tip, I just snip the bag about an inch or so from the tip.
  • Pipe your shells onto the parchment-lined baking sheets.
  • Allow to sit for 10-60 minutes or until the shells appear dry.  I have found this process is heavily dependent on the weather.  The more moisture in the air, the longer they need to sit.
  • Working with one sheet at a time, bake for about 20 minutes.  To test, gently grab one corner of the parchment and attempt to peel it from the shell.  A clean peel means the shells are done.  If they are sticky, back in the oven for another 5 minutes and test again.
  • Let the shells cool but once cool, carefully remove from the parchment.  I have found that you don’t want to let the cooled shells sit on the parchment.

for the filling


  • 4 ounces cream cheese (I like to use a lower fat version to keep the filling from being too heavy)
  • 1 C confectioner’s sugar
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon (more to taste)
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla
  • Optional: 4 TBS or so of cinnamon sugar for dusting (4TBS granulated sugar + 1 /2 tsp cinnamon)


  1. Beat the cream cheese with an electric hand-mixer until smooth.
  2. Add- in remaining ingredients and beat until combined.
  3. Once the sandwich cookies are filled, dip the finished cookie in a shallow dish of cinnamon and sugar.  The surface tension should be enough to keep some of the fine granules stuck to the cookie.


Any excuse

While gathering inspiration for ways to rid my house of Nutella, I came across an absolutely lovely blog called The Cake Merchant. Oboist by profession, baker by passion, this author’s gorgeous photography and creative verve for desserts quickly pulled me in.

Of course, out of all the fancy and colorful creations she highlighted, the brown sugar and cinnamon shortbread caught my eye first.  As you know, I’m always looking for excuses to make shortbread and sable cookies.  And, reading the ingredients for a brown sugar and cinnamon variety had be wondering, “why did I think of that?”

Simple and elegant, what sets these cookies apart is a sprinkling of turbinado sugar that has been doused in cinnamon.

Like cinnamon toast, only a smidge more refined.

While the smell of cinnamon rising from the kitchen on a May morning felt a little bit anachronistic,  these would be a happy treat on a cool fall afternoon with a cup of tea.

 Brown Sugar and Cinnamon Shortbread

adapted from The Cake Merchant


  • 1/4 C turbinado sugar
  • 1 TBS ground cinnamon
  • 1 C (2 sticks) unsalted temp, at room temp but still cool to the touch
  • 1/2 C packed golden or light brown sugar
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • 2 1/4 C all purpose flour
  • 1/4 tsp kosher salt


  1. In a small bowl, combine turbinado sugar and first tablespoon of cinnamon.  Set aside.
  2. In a medium bowl, sift in flour then whisk-in salt and cinnamon.  Set aside.
  3. Using a standing or electric mixer, beat butter and sugar until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes.
  4. Reduce speed to low, and add-in flour, mixing until just combined.
  5. Turn dough out onto a floured work surface and work slightly until dough comes together.
  6. Divide dough in half and roll each half into a log (I like to use the cardboard round from paper-towels, split length-wise to help hold shape).  Wrap tightly in plastic and either refrigerate for an hour or freeze.
  7. Preheat oven to 300 degrees.  Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
  8. Slice logs into 1/3-1/2 inch rounds (depending on desired thickness).  Please on cookie sheet and sprinkle with turbinado and cinnamon mixture.  Press down just slightly so as not to change the shape of the dough, but help the sugar stay in place (you could also brush the cookies with an egg-wash first, then sprinkle the sugar if you didn’t want to press the sugar into the dough).
  9. Bake for 18-20 minutes if using from fridge, add-one 3 minutes or so if from frozen.  The cookies should be golden brown on top but not around the edges.
  10. Cool on wire racks.  These will freeze well if tightly wrapped.

Alfa who?

Guess what we’re making?

[note–the pot above is utilized only as the bottom of the jerry-rigged  double boiler and for making dulce de leche where its contents do not interact with the food–I promise I’m not poisoning people with teflon].

It’s been a while since I had fun with dulce de leche.  And, I was thinking about my friend Melissa who moved to Argentina.  Another friend of mine was just there and it got me wondering why haven’t I been?  Why not just hop on a plane?  There are multiple daily flights out of LAX on LANS.  I could be there before sundown tomorrow.

And then reality set in.  There is that thing I spend most of my time doing called work.  And there is that dishwasher that needs to be replaced.  And those Kitchen Gods who are insistent on being fed.  So, I settled on missing Melissa and making alfajores.

As if the dulce de leche filling wasn’t enough to motivate me to give these a whirl, I’ve long been intriugued with the idea of swapping out traditional flour with cornstarch.  I’ve done some experimenting with shortbread recipes, to mixed results.  So, this was an excuse to experiment.

Unlike my shortbread attempts, this was a success.  Just barely sweet, the cookies were tender and crisp.  I managed to coax exactly two dozen little round cookies out of the dough.


Alfajores are often rolled in ground coconut as a finishing touch.  As coincidence would have it, the other recipe I made the day I made these also included coconut as a main ingredient.  Not wanting to over coconut the recipients of my treats, I left off the coconut here.




  • 1 cup cornstarch
  • 3/4 cup all-purpose flour, plus more as needed
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon fine salt
  • 8 tablespoons unsalted butter (1 stick), at room temperature
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 large egg yolks
  • 1 tablespoon pisco or brandy
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup dulce de leche at room temperature.  For recipes goes here and here
  • Powdered sugar, for dusting


  1. Place the cornstarch, measured flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a medium bowl and whisk briefly to combine; set aside.
  2. Place the butter and sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment. Mix on medium speed, stopping the mixer to scrape down the sides of the bowl once with a rubber spatula, until the mixture is light in color and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add the egg yolks, pisco or brandy, and vanilla and mix until incorporated, about 30 seconds. Stop the mixer and scrape down the sides of the bowl. On low speed, gradually add the reserved flour mixture and mix until just incorporated with no visible white pockets, about 30 seconds.
  3. Turn the dough out onto a piece of plastic wrap, shape it into a smooth disk, and wrap it tightly. Place in the refrigerator until firm, at least 1 hour.
  4. Meanwhile, heat the oven to 350°F and arrange a rack in the middle. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper and set aside.
  5. Remove the dough from the refrigerator, unwrap it, and place it on a lightly floured work surface or, between two sheets of parckment. Lightly flour the top of the dough. Roll to 1/4-inch thickness (the dough will crack but can be easily patched back together). Stamp out 24 rounds using a plain or fluted 2-inch round cutter, rerolling the dough as necessary until all of it is gone.
  6. Place the cookies on the prepared baking sheets, 12 per sheet and at least 1/2 inch apart. Bake 1 sheet at a time until the cookies are firm and pale golden on the bottom, about 12 to 14 minutes. (The cookies will remain pale on top.) Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
  7. Flip half of the cookies upside down and gently spread about 2 teaspoons of the dulce de leche on each. Place a second cookie on top and gently press to create a sandwich. Dust generously with powdered sugar before serving.


JB Bars

JP, this one’s for you.

Since traveling to Australia is sort of like going to the U.S. from a size perspective, we chose to visit three cities: Melbourne, Sydney and Port Douglass (an hour outside of Cairns).

In each of the three cities, a delightful little petit-four like cookie was served alongside coffee for a taste of something sweet at the end of meals.

The little treats started with a shortbread base.  To which a layer of penuche, or brown sugar fudge was added.

The squares were topped by a layer of chocolate.

These are kind of like million dollar shortbread.  Only not.

Once we got home I spent some time trying to find a name for these little guys.  No luck.

So, TD and I decided to name them ourselves.

While in Sydney, we met up with our friend Julia (and Jennifer and Myra).  They were there leading a group of college students and while it’s a sad state of affairs to have to go halfway around the world to spend time with someone who lives less than 10 miles away, good fun was had by all.  Some of that fun was the discussion, debate and general admiration of a certain footie player from the Sydney Swans.

Australian rules football is fantastic.  TD and I caught a Sunday game in Melbourne (at the historical MCG) between the Richmond Tigers and the Carlton Blues.  It was a crisp afternoon in early fall with huge clouds and a cool breeze.  Beer, meat pies with tomato sauce and some very….athletic athletes.  It doesn’t get much better.

Australians are fervent sports fans and on their island nation, the Sydney Swans are royalty.

Their crowned prince?  That certain footie player, Jude Bolton.  A prolific athlete–315 games in his 14 year career thus far–Mr. Bolton is, according to JP, also an ace bloke.   Dear readers, meet Jude.

Photo source: Phil Hillyard / News Limited via FoxSports.

By now you’ve figured it out.  JB Bars are short for Jude Bolton bars.  Because, we like him that much.

As for the Sydney Swans…well…Australia seems to have a knack for using American fight songs as their own.  The Sydney Swans fight song is set to the tune of the Notre Dame fight song.  Make what you will of that little nugget.

If you like this, you might like these.

Salted Caramel Squares

Twix Bars

JB Bars

penuche layer adapted from Stephanie Stiavetti at everything else is Misanthropic Hostess

Shortbread Base


  • 10 TBS butter, cold
  • 1/4 C brown sugar
  • 1/8 C granulated sugar
  • 1 1/4 C flour
  • 1/8 C salt


  1. Preheat oven to 235 degrees.
  2. Line an 8X8 or 9X9 pan with parchment so that pieces hang off the end on all four sides.
  3. In a food processor, pulse together sugars, flour and salt.
  4. Cut butter into 1/2 TBS pieces.  Using pulse function on the processor, add-in pieces one-at-a-time until the dough just barely comes together.
  5. Refrigerate for 20 minutes.
  6. Press dough into pan.
  7. Prick dough all over with fork.
  8. Bake on middle rack until golden brown (20-30 minutes…begin checking at 20 minutes or when you  begin to smell the butter cooking).
  9. Remove from over and allow to cool completely.

Penuche & Chocolate Layers

  • 2½ cups brown sugar
  • 2½ cups white sugar
  • 1¼ cup whole milk or half and half
  • ½ cup unsalted butter
  • ¾ teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 8-12 ounces chopped chocolate (I used bittersweet) depending on how thick you’d like the layer.  I used about 9 ounces.


  1. In a heavy saucepan over medium-low flame, heat brown sugar, white sugar, milk, butter, and salt to 236F while stirring constantly. This should take 20-25 minutes.
  2. Pour penuche into the bowl of a stand mixer. Beat on medium for 2-4 minutes, or until fudge is thick and smooth. Lower speed to low and add vanilla extract.
  3. Using a spatula greased with butter, spread penuche fudge on top of shortbread base, smoothing out the top. Refrigerate for 30 minutes.
  4. While the penuche is cooling, melt chocolate in a double boiler or in microwave (50% power, 30 seconds at a time, stirring in-between until chocolate is melted and smooth).
  5. Spread chocolate evenly over penuche layer using an offset spatula.  Allow to harden.
  6. Lift entire concoction from pan using the ends of the parchment.  Cut into 1-inch squares.
  7. Serve or use within two or three days.  Will keep slightly longer if stored in an air-tight container.  Do not refrigerate.