Kiwiana bakes

Afghans: A long-standing Kiwi favourite, they do not draw their name from Afghanistan.
JAN BILTON
Afghans: A long-standing Kiwi favourite, they do not draw their name from Afghanistan.

There are many high-profile sweet delights that are indigenous to New Zealand despite claims to the contrary. As most of us know, our Australian neighbours still dispute the fact that we created the pavlova even though food historians have written proof.

The two countries also argue over the origins of the lamington – a square of sponge cake coated traditionally in either raspberry (or strawberry) jelly or chocolate icing then rolled in desiccated coconut. Sometimes, lamingtons are split and filled with whipped cream and/or jam. Many cafes are now reinventing the lamington, serving lime and lemon variations.

There is no need to argue over the Anzac biscuits' origins. They have been associated with the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps (Anzac) established in World War I. It has been claimed the biscuits were sent by wives to husbands abroad because the ingredients did not spoil easily and the biscuits kept well when transported.

The Afghan biscuit is also thought to have originated in New Zealand. Prepared from a cocoa-infused dough and cornflakes, they are usually topped with chocolate icing and walnut pieces. It is believed that the name has nothing to do with the country of Afghanistan but rather the dark colour of the biscuits.

Caramel slice – a Scottish creation – has taken on many Kiwi characteristics. We love it topped with chocolate or nuts. It is one of the most popular sweet treats that coffee houses and cafes serve.

The scone – a Scottish/British original – has always been a Kiwi standby. Cheese and date scones will always be a favourite but many cafes also offer their own variation serving such delights as savoury vegetable, passionfruit, and decadent chocolate scones.

AFGHANS

The icing on these afghans is ganache – a mixture of dark chocolate and cream.

Makes 20 to 21

250g butter, softened

3/4 cup caster sugar

1 1/2 cups flour

1/2 cup dark cocoa powder

1 1/2cups cornflakes

Chocolate icing:

1/2 cup cream

200g dark chocolate, finely chopped

20-21 walnut halves

Preheat the oven to 150 degrees Celsius. Line two baking trays with baking paper.

Cream the butter and caster sugar until light. Sift in the flour and cocoa and mix well. Add the cornflakes and mix, until just combined.

Roll into 20 to 21 balls about 35g each. Place on the prepared trays. Flatten lightly with a fork. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes. Cool the biscuits on a wire rack.

To make the icing, bring the cream to the boil. Remove from the heat and stir in the chocolate. Stand for two minutes. Whisk until smooth. Stand, until cool and thick.

Spread the icing with a spatula. Place a walnut half in the centre of each biscuit. When the icing is set, store the afghans in an airtight container in a cool place.

CAB SAV LAMINGTONS

These lamingtons can be prepared two or three days in advance and refrigerated (unfilled) in an airtight container.

Serves 4 to 6

Lamingtons:

500g slab trifle sponge cake or similar

1 cup cabernet sauvignon wine

1/2 cup water

85g packet raspberry jelly crystals

1 cup desiccated coconut

Raspberry sauce:

1 1/2 cups frozen raspberries

2 Tbsp icing sugar

2-3 Tbsp cabernet sauvignon

1 cup cream, lightly whipped

Trim the sponge of any extra brown edges. Cut the sponge into 4cm x 4cm cubes.

Bring the wine and the water to the boil and stir in the jelly crystals. Cool, then refrigerate until the jelly has reached an egg-white consistency, stirring occasionally.

Dip each side of the lamingtons into the jelly to coat, then gently toss in the coconut. Refrigerate to set.

To make the sauce, puree the raspberries with the icing sugar and enough wine to produce a pouring consistency.

Pile the lamingtons on serving plates and drizzle with the sauce and garnish with whipped cream.

Alternatively, split the lamingtons, combine a little sauce with the whipped cream and fill the lamingtons.

Serve with the remaining sauce and extra raspberries, if preferred.

CRAZY PINWHEEL SCONES

Makes about 12

3 cups plain flour

2 Tbsp baking powder

100g butter, chopped

3 Tbsp sugar

1 cup milk

1/4- 1/2 cup apricot or raspberry jam

3/4 cup each: pomegranate-flavoured craisins, sultanas

Preheat the oven to 190C. Lightly grease or line an oven tray with baking paper.

Sift the flour and baking powder into a large bowl. Rub in the butter with your fingertips, until crumbly. Mix in the sugar.

Add the milk – a little at a time – until a smooth dough is formed. Gently knead the dough on a lightly floured bench until smooth. Roll out the dough to make a 5mm-1cm thick rectangle.

Spread a thin layer of the raspberry jam over the dough. Evenly spread with the craisins and sultanas.

Gently roll up the dough, long edge to long edge. Cut into even pieces, about 2.5cm wide.

Place on the greased tray, cut sides up. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, until golden brown. Cool on a rack.

CARAMEL HAZELNUT SLICE

Makes 20 pieces

Base:

250g vanilla wine biscuits, finely crushed

1/2 cup desiccated coconut

175g butter, melted

Caramel filling:

25g butter

2 Tbsp golden syrup

375g can sweetened condensed milk

Topping:

100g toasted hazelnuts, roughly chopped

Line a 25cm x 20cm baking pan or slice pan with baking paper.

Combine the crushed biscuits and the coconut in a large bowl. Stir in the melted butter. Press the mixture into the pan. Refrigerate to set.

To make the filling, combine the butter, golden syrup and condensed milk in a heavy-based saucepan. Stir constantly over a low heat for about five minutes, until the mixture boils and becomes caramel. Pour the mixture over the base and cool slightly.

Once cooled, sprinkle the hazelnuts over the caramel. Cover and refrigerate overnight before cutting.

COPYRIGHT JAN BILTON

The Marlborough Express