Something Different
Week of: April 22, 2013
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Discover ANZAC Cookies from Down Under

By Dana Jacobi
for the American Institute for Cancer Research

Chocolate chip cookies are an American invention. Around the world, other countries also have sweet treats they created. Think French pain au chocolat and éclairs, Italian biscotti, and the chewy Japanese rice flour treat called mochi.

We know little about Australian cooking, so let me introduce you to ANZAC biscuits. ANZAC means Australia and New Zealand Army Corps and a biscuit is a sweet cookie. ANZAC biscuits are like crunchy oatmeal cookies with shredded coconut. Their name is capitalized because of its unique place in Australia’s history – so unique that its name is registered and its use is protected by law.

ANZAC biscuits, or cookies as we think of them, are associated with ANZAC Day, April 25th, when during World War I, troops from down under landed in Gallipoli to face a horrendous situation. Over the years, ANZAC biscuits have come to be as popular as our chocolate chip cookie, while also remaining a symbol of military bravery and of national pride.

The actual recipe was created to bring home cooking to troops far away and to fortify their limited diet with good nutrition. The result is a smart, delicious sweet combining the goodness of whole grains with fat that together slow the body’s absorption of sugar.

As with chocolate chip cookies, recipes for ANZAC biscuits abound. Here, I use a soft buttery spread in place of butter to minimize saturated fat and cut out cholesterol. Keeping the fat content reasonable means this dough works best baked as a bar cookie. I like this, too, because not forming individual cookies saves time and means I can enjoy and share these ANZAC treats often.

ANZAC Cookies

ANZAC Cookies

  • 1 cup quick cooking rolled oats
  • 1 cup reduced-fat, unsweetened shredded dried coconut (or 1/2 cup regular, unsweetened shredded coconut)
  • 1/2 cup whole-wheat pastry flour
  • 1/2 cup unbleached all purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup buttery spread
  • 2 Tbsp. honey
  • 1/2 tsp. baking soda
  • 2 Tbsp. boiling water
  • Canola oil cooking spray

In mixing bowl, use whisk to combine oats, coconut, flours, sugars and salt. In small pot over medium heat, heat spread until melted. Mix in honey. Remove pot from heat. In small bowl, combine baking soda with boiling water. When mixture is foamy, add to melted spread mixture. Pour warm mixture into dry ingredients and mix, first using flexible spatula, then your hands, working with your fingers until mixture is evenly moistened. It will be sandy and crumble when squeezed in your fist. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and set aside at room temperature for 2-24 hours, until handful squeezed tightly sticks together.

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.

Coat 11 inch x 7 inch baking pan with cooking spray. Pour bar mixture into prepared pan and press firmly into even layer.

Bake 10 minutes. Remove pan and using sharp, thin knife make 4 cuts spaced evenly across wider width of pan. Rotate pan 90 degrees and make 3 cuts across smaller width of pan, creating 20 bars. Return pan to oven and bake for 8-10 minutes, until cookies are deep golden brown. They will be slightly puffy and yield a little when with pressed with a finger.

Set pan on wire baking rack and run knife through cuts. Cool completely. Run knife through cuts again to make sure cookies are completely separated and lift from pan. ANZAC Cookies will keep in airtight container for 1 week.

Makes 20 servings.

Per serving: 130 calories, 6 g total fat (3 g saturated fat), 17 g carbohydrate,
1 g protein, 1 g dietary fiber, 140 mg sodium.

Something Different is written by Dana Jacobi, author of 12 Best Foods Cookbook and contributor to AICR’s New American Plate Cookbook: Recipes for a Healthy Weight and a Healthy Life.

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