Friday, March 9, 2012

Inappropriately Named Cookies

Once again I am baking and post about an old New Zealand classic, and again it is a super-delicious biscuit, but this one has a really strange name - Afghans!

I never thought it was strange until I moved overseas, but when you stop to think about it, why is a cookie called an Afghan? Does it have anything to do with the Afghan people or the country Afghanistan? Does the fact that it's a brown coloured cookie have anything to do with the name? I have read one account that these cookies were first made in NZ (or Australia but that is really unlikely) by an Afghan immigrant. But I don't much believe that, surely immigrants would continue making food based upon their own national cuisine and not suddenly pick up on the more European habit of baking cookies? I've also read accounts that the cookies look like the craggy mountains of Afghanistan or even resemble the Afghan people. Personally, I would say that the name probably originated from the inescapable racism of the older generations - after hearing my own great-grandmother's casual references to darkies I wouldn't be surprised if somebody, somewhere, made a dark coloured cookie and named it after whatever dark-skinned people where commonly known or being talked about at the time. Who cares though, the cookies are delicious and really simple and they will always be world famous in New Zealand. It's not like it's the only strangely named cookie out there - all over food-blog-land at the moment are recipes to do with Samoas cookies, which may seem perfectly normal to American people who grew up with Girl Scout cookies but to me it seemed really odd - why are there cookies named after Samoa, which have no connection at all to the country, its people and their cuisine? They look yummy though, I'm going to have to try them one day.

200 grams butter
1/2 cup sugar
1 1/4 cup flour
1/4 cup cocoa powder
2 cups cornflakes
1/2 cup chocolate chips (this is my own addition, because I can't help myself)
Chocolate icing
Halved walnuts (or if you don't like walnuts, some slivered almonds or desiccated coconut)

First, heat the oven to 180 degrees celsius and prepare a couple of cookie trays.

Soften the butter, then beat in the sugar until it is creamy. Add the flour, cocoa powder, cornflakes and chocolate chips and mix the dough really well - you will have to use your hands eventually because this is a very stiff, crumbly dough.

Scoop balls of dough with a teaspoon and roll them into a ball, then press each onto the cookie tray. Bake for  about 15 minutes.

Let the cookies cool completely (don't move them from the tray too soon or they will crumble into pieces!), then ice them with chocolate icing and top with a walnut half (or a sprinkling of almonds or coconut).


  1. I made this sometime ago. Tried to figure out why its called Afghan, no consensus view. There's also Armenian nutmeg cake in Australia (but not in Armenia), Sicilian Orange Cake in Australia...And I saw Fiji salad in Kyrgyzstan. The world is lacking creativity:)
    Enjoy your weekend

  2. I have never heard of these! I'm very curious now too. Samoas are pretty darn tasty. Thank you for linking to Foodie Friday! Not Your Ordinary Recipes
    Not Your Ordinary Agent


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