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put one foot in front of the other

Recipe: anzac biscuits

I can never get into the mountains early enough. This is the truth seeing as we like to mountain year round. It’s just that the summer season is so fleeting up here – typically not melting out fully until mid-July and then getting snow as early as mid-September. Trust me, I am NOT complaining about snow in the backcountry. In fact, I would prefer a little more this year. Jeremy and I did a couple of hikes recently and nearly cried tears of sorrow at the sparse and measly little patches of snow at 11,000 feet. I mean seriously… this is what the backcountry looked like last year on the first day of summer.

my kind of summer

Really though, our tears are more for the parched wilderness than the skiing. We can find skiing of one kind or another most of the year, but the snowpack is 2% of normal right now and there is a giant wildfire blazing an hour north of us. We are on alert. Our evacuation items are ready. In the meantime we hike (and mountain bike and trail run). It’s funny to walk up these trails without heavy boots and skis and skins on your feet, and by funny I mean way the hell lighter. It’s also mind-numbingly slow hiking out compared to skiing out. And it’s hot. That’s why we love our mountain forests, for the shade they provide and the beautiful, lush undergrowth.

shooting star by a small stream

ski hut

the view across to the continental divide

When I first began hiking with Jeremy almost 20 years ago, I was an impatient hiker who was hellbent on peak-bagging. I think that’s a common newbie characteristic. As I’ve grown older, maybe even wiser, I’ve come to accept it for what it really is – a journey. The journey IS the goal. Once I understood this, I’ve enjoyed a greater success rate of summits despite the fact that summits aren’t really my goal anymore. So zen. This is especially so when you hike in a place you know well, as if you are visiting the plants and animals and rocks and streams – the community. One of my favorite local hikes is Pawnee Pass (and Pawnee Peak given no thunderheads) on the Continental Divide. It’s beautiful. It is long enough to be a worthy hike, yet not so long that it kills you. It has a nice climb, great views, and so many wonderful flowers and critters at the right time of day and right time of year.

fairy primrose (alpine primrose)

my favorite blue: alpine forget-me-nots

The flowers get shorter and smaller as you climb higher, because the weather trashes the higher elevations with wind, rain, snow, everything it can throw at you. Look out across the high country and most people see grasses, dirt, and rock. If you look closely, you will discover so much life thriving in little crevices where a pocket of soil has developed in the lee of the boulder or a stream has fed a tiny depression. This has always amazed me, inspired me. A few years ago I had done this hike with Jeremy, our friend, Marianne, and Kaweah. It was shortly after my radiation treatments had ended, but I felt that I needed to get outside. Halfway up, I was hit with these recurring abdominal pains which I figured were just side effects from radiation or perhaps chemo. I didn’t realize I had a smoldering appendix until two months later in the emergency room. But I told Jeremy and Marianne to hike ahead and I would have Kaweah for… company (let’s face it, she’s not saving ANYONE) and that I’d just turn around when I caught up with them on their return.

on the pass

storm clouds building

Jeremy and I talked about that hike this time.

Me: Remember when…
Jeremy: Yeah. I was so happy when I saw you and Kaweah coming over the rise.
Me: I didn’t know if I was going to make it to the pass, but I leaned into it and put one foot in front of the other and the distance just disappeared under my feet.
Jeremy: I’m sure Kaweah was tugging at the leash and going nuts smelling all of the marmots and pikas.
Me: There was that…

Maybe the reason I love hiking so much is that I find it’s a lot like life: a journey, an adventure, with very real risks and decisions. It’s good to be at it again, good to see the high country in bloom and buzzing with critters. It reminds me that it’s good to be alive.

Have you ever done a hike that you thought looked or sounded meh on paper, but turned out to love once you were actually there? I love those kinds of surprises. (I’ve also done plenty of hikes that looked like they would be awesome and were absolutely miserable.) This cookie was one of those for me. My first introduction to the ANZAC biscuit was when I visited my friend, Kell, in Sydney. She placed her hand on the cookie jar and said in her delicious Aussie accent, “Jen, I’ve got some ANZAC biscuits here if you’d like to have some.” There was no sign of chocolate and they sounded interesting – this cookie was sent to those in the Australia New Zealand Army Corps during World War I, because it wouldn’t spoil on the long trip to the soldiers. I forgot about them until day 2, and I could have sworn she put crack in those cookies.

what’s really in an anzac biscuit: butter, flour, oats, coconut, sugar, golden (or light corn) syrup, salt, baking soda

mix the dry ingredients together

All these years, I never endeavored to make ANZAC biscuits at home because I assumed Jeremy wouldn’t like them. For one thing, they don’t have chocolate. Secondly, he doesn’t really like coconut. But on April 25 of this year, my calendar had ANZAC Day marked. The idea buzzed in my head for several weeks until I finally made a batch. My plan was to give them away to the neighbors.

melt the butter and the golden syrup (i used light corn syrup)

pour the baking soda into the boiling water

stir the baking soda water into the butter mixture

I didn’t give any cookies to the neighbors because Jeremy ate them (the cookies, not the neighbors). He didn’t just eat the cookies, he kept telling me over and over how much he loved these cookies. Recently, I made another batch because I wanted to bring cookies to my friends in town, but I was out of eggs. This recipe doesn’t require eggs, which probably helps to extend the shelf-life. I wasn’t sure these guys would go for it, but they were surprisingly receptive.

mix the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients

flattening dough balls onto parchment

The secret hero is most likely the coconut. The cookie has a crunchy exterior and chewy, soft interior. It’s buttery, but has a nice and meaty texture from the coconut and oats. I find they are best eaten the day they are baked. In our arid environment, they become rock hard within a couple of days. I warned my friends about this storage issue when they sampled the cookies. Both of them looked at me and said, “That isn’t going to be a problem.”

they might surprise you

ANZAC Biscuits
[print recipe]
from Martha Stewart’s Cookies

2 cups (280g) all-purpose flour
1 3/4 cups (180g) old-fashioned rolled oats
1 1/2 cups (375g) sugar
1 cup (85g) unsweetened shredded coconut
pinch salt
3/4 cup unsalted butter
2 tbsps (40g) Lyle’s Golden Syrup (I used light corn syrup)
3/4 tsp baking soda
6 tbsps boiling water

Preheat oven to 350°F. Combine flour, oats, sugar, coconut, and salt in a large bowl and mix thoroughly. Place the butter and the golden syrup (I used corn syrup) in a medium saucepan over medium heat and stir until melted. In a small bowl, add the baking soda to the boiling water. Stir the baking soda mixture into the butter mixture and stir to combine. Martha warns that it will bubble up considerably. Stir the butter mixture into the bowl of dry ingredients. Stir or mix until most of the dry mix is incorporated and moist. Roll a heaping tablespoon of dough into a ball and set on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Flatten the ball with your palm just a bit. Repeat, spacing the cookies about 2 inches apart. Bake for 15 minutes or until the cookies turn golden brown (they should be firm, but not hard). Martha recommends rotating the cookie sheet halfway through the cooking time, but I didn’t. Remove the cookies from the baking sheets and cool on cooling racks. Store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to a week. Makes 4 dozen.

29 nibbles at “put one foot in front of the other”

  1. Kitt says:

    I’ve heard of Anzac biscuits but never knew what was in them. They look pretty tasty! (I love oatmeal and coconut.) Gonna try ’em!

  2. Rebecca Drew says:

    Love the spring wildflowers! As another Aussie who has made a batch or 50 of Anzacs in my time – and thanks for not calling them cookies by the way :) – I think it’s the golden syrup more so than coconut that makes them special, it has a slightly smokey flavour that’s quite different from corn syrup.

    Interestingly Martha’s proportions are quite different from the official version (more water and less butter and coconut). Here’s the link if you’re interested, it’s the second recipe –


  3. Annie D says:

    These look delicious, but I imagine that substituting corn syrup for golden syrup would be quite the change. Like Rebeca, I’m an Aussie who thinks that the golden syrup is the hero of the dish, so I’d recommend trying to find some.

    I’ve read some recipes which add dark chocolate chips to the cookies, but I prefer the classic version myself.

  4. Lee says:

    Thoroughly enjoy your blog, your pho and bbq buns are amazing! I want to make these now too, thankfully though we use golden syrup a lot so it’s always on hand, delicious on toast. Anyhow can you caramelize corn syrup? (We don’t have it over here so?) or even a caramelize water/sugar syrup might work, its the burnt caramel flavour… sooo good!

  5. Dany says:

    Oh yum! I haven’t made ANZAC bikkies in ages but now I have a hankering. I third the importance of the golden syrup! Yours do look really yummy though :o)

    I do feel compelled to share the kiwi recipe, the good old Edmond’s Cookbook version:

  6. Maggie says:

    We learned about these biscuits from our neighbor and decided to give them a shot a few years ago. I couldn’t believe how delicious they were. We made using the golden syrup —

  7. Debbie says:

    These cookies look wonderful. Love the coconut! I love hiking here in Virginia along the Blue Ridge Parkway. So many trails. I’m sure I would just go crazy hiking in your area. The skies are so beautiful and blue…..and I love the mountains. Haven’t been to Colorado in many, many years but when I did visit my friends took me to Pikes Peak. I ended up getting queasy from the altitude and we left for lower land!!!! We didn’t hike it. We drove and it took quite a while doing that….

  8. j says:

    Anzac biscuits are such a classic! They sell them at the shops here but sadly they’re never the delicious chewy kind that come with home baking.


  9. Janet says:

    I found two tins of Lyles at Marshalls of all places and will try this recipe. My sister and family spent a few years in Sydney so I’ll send these off to the kids to jog some memories.

  10. sweetmaddy says:

    I agree with you on the hiking-life parallel. It’s also always a good reminder that you don’t always need to spend money or have something tangible in your entertainment! These cookies look interesting, thanks for sharing! :) Also, I love that cookie plate in the background of the final photo, it’s beautiful!

  11. Melissa says:

    Love your stories. Hiking. Life. I adore hiking, too, and miss it – not to say I can’t hike here in Texas because certainly there are woods to be explored, and we have, a bit… but you know, California. I look forward to getting back to Big Sur yet again, for hikes that are goal-oriented, up mountain sides, and ones that are just to look over cliffs and see the seals and otters basking and playing. All of it is good. Plus, there’s no feeling quite like sitting down to a good meal after hiking for 8 hours. :)

  12. Brian @ A Thought For Food says:

    I am the kind of guy who likes to do some light hiking from time to time… so, I definitely understand what you’re saying. I do have a slight fear of heights though and this keeps me from doing any extreme hikes.

    I really just want to tell you that these cookies look absolutely perfect… a cup of tea, a newspaper, and a plate of these babies and I’m set!

  13. Kath says:

    You have made these seemingly simple cookies sound amazing! Definitely a recipe I’d like to try. Thanks!

  14. Theresa says:

    I love your blog because it combines my 3 favorite things – hiking, photography and food :) I think our hiking out here on the East Coast is probably a lot tamer than your Colorado hiking (hoping to find out in person some day…) but I can totally relate to your description. It really is about the journey and I love getting to know my “community” of wildlife and plants on the trails. I so love those hikes that sound rather “meh” and end up being spectacular!

    These cookies are intriguing. They sound OK, but I’d have a hard time resisting the temptation to add some chocolate!

  15. Cookin Canuck says:

    “The journey is the goal.” That’s so true in hiking, as well as life in general. I’m crossing my fingers for you that the wildfire is contained soon…it’s so devastating to see all of that beautiful land up in flames.

    These Anzac biscuits would tuck into my daypack nicely. And I’m sure they’d taste even better (as everything does) at a rest stop along a hike.

  16. Patricia Scarpin says:

    They sure look delicious, Jen! I love cookies with oats – I feel a little less guilty eating a bunch of them, I guess. :D

  17. LizzieBee says:

    Fantastic to see you baking up some ANZACs!! I’m with the other Aussies though, and would go for golden syrup over corn syrup and definitely because of the smokey flavour you’d get. I would think you’d miss half the marvellous flavour with corn syrup. (Sorry Jen :( !!) I do understand that golden syrup can be hard to source in the US though.

    These are DEFINITELY tops for hiking :)

  18. Alissa says:

    I was first introduced to ANZAC biscuits by my Aussie neighbours in Amsterdam. I wish I could ship you some golden syrup, for some reason my cupboard is full of tins of Lyle’s cause I kept not being sure I had enough when I was at the grocery store. It is really hard to find corn syrup in the UK, so I substitute golden syrup, which definitely isn’t the same.

  19. Margie says:

    Another great recipe to try. I’ve heard of these biscuits, but never studied the ingredient list until now. Coconut and oatmeal are natural partners in crime. It’s time for me to ship cookies to the west coast for the kiddo’s; these will be one of the bakes. Thanks for the inspiration. :) .. oh, and for those beautiful photo’s. I am so homesick…shame on you!

  20. Shut Up & Cook says:

    I’m not much one for hiking, even though my husband has assured me it’s just walking, but I am definitely all about the baking so these will be going on the list! I love the combination of sweet and savory, and a cookie that fills both is high on my list.

  21. Jill says:

    Oh how I remember those put one foot in front of another days! Thankfully THAT and the smoldering appendix are a thing of the past!

    Love the flower pics. That is an amazing, almost turquoise blue!

  22. Joy says:

    The biscuits look great.

  23. lexi says:

    Pure maple syrup is a far better substitute for golden syrup than corn syrup. In fact, it’s healthier, and more importantly, tastier.

  24. Charlotte julienne says:

    Great for Anzac day !

  25. Laurel says:

    Hi Jen,
    I have been a lurker for a while. I found your site through some roundabout linking on some of the craft/food blogs I frequent. It was great to find someone local! I have learned about so many great Boulder food places through your posts! Thank you! I spent about 8 years in Boulder, first as a grad student in APS, then working for NCAR. I just moved to the UK, but I will be back in Boulder mid-July. If you would like to try some, I would be happy to bring you back a tin of Golden Syrup as so many of the comments mention how different it is than corn syrup. Although I have to admit that the whole ‘tin’ thing is a little frustrating. Corn syrup /molasses containers are in the US are much easier to deal with :) But yeah, just email if you want me to drop a tin off somewhere for you.

    And thanks so much for the recipe, they are indeed surprisingly delicious! My Aussie roommate thinks they taste great, like a little piece of home ;)

  26. Peas says:

    Hi – lovely post! I’m Aussie and I grew up on these biscuits! I know people have mentioned it, but golden syrup is truly the BEST part about these cookies. I now live in Canada where it’s difficult to find, so I use treacle instead. My boyfriend also hates coconut and I assumed he wouldn’t like them, but no! Same thing! He loves them. They were made caramelized and crunchy so that they lasted a long time – the wives of the Anzacs used to send them in care packages during the war.

  27. jenyu says:

    Thanks for all of the comments, everyone. And to all of my Aussie and Kiwi readers who insist that I use Lyle’s… my good pal, Kat, brought me a can of Lyle’s Golden Syrup over the weekend!! :) So I’m happily making plans for the next batch of ANZAC biscuits – proper like!

    Kitt – they’re great, buttery, oaty, coconutty cookies.

    Rebecca – thanks for the link!

    Dany – ha ha, thanks for the kiwi version! :)

    Debbie – hiking in Colorado is one of my favorite things to do. Do come back – I’m sure you’ll enjoy it even more!

    j – I’ve never seen them in shops before!

    Janet – wow, that’s awesome. I’ll keep my eyes peeled from now on.

    sweetmaddy – thank you! It was a thrift shop find :)

    Melissa – :) Love you, Mel xo

    Brian – it doesn’t have to be extreme hiking to be therapeutic :) xo

    Theresa – yes, Colorado is veeeery different from the East Coast. It’s much drier, for one and a lot higher. But a hike in the outdoors is great in general. If you do try the cookies, go without the chocolate the first time. They’re lovely.

    Cookin Canuck – thank you, Dara. I hope you and the family are all well xo

    Patricia – ha!!

    LizzieBee – thanks, I shall!

    Alissa – I’m curious to try it now!

    Margie – I hope she likes them.

    Jill – :)

    Laurel – you are soooo very kind. Thank you for the offer, I have some Lyle’s now in my cupboard (believe it or not, there is a Britain store in Colorado Springs!). Hope the fires are out and that you can enjoy Boulder properly when you’re back xo

    Peas – ahhh, treacle – great idea! Thanks!

  28. Sheauen says:

    I made these this past weekend since my husband’s loves himself some coconut and some oatmeal in his cookies. They were a success! Usually his attention span for cookies is ONE cookie out of a batch. I tried to take these to work today and he totally vetoed the idea. I think I “heaped” my tablespoon a bit much because the cookies spread out to average adult palm sized cookies. Next time I bake these I’ll do a level tablespoon. Thanks for a great post!

  29. Linda Catherine says:

    Happy Anzac Day! April 25 :)
    Made these biscuits today and they are da bomb! Thanks!!

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