If you’ve read a number of my books, you’ll notice that my heroes often select a gingernut, when offered refreshments at afternoon teat-time. This has confused enough copyeditors (and a few readers) to make me realize that gingernuts are not common in the USA.
So to clarify, they are biscuits (cookies if you’re in the USA). I don’t know why they’re called gingernuts, but that’s the English language for you.
And to add to the confusion, there are no nuts in gingernuts. There is, however, ginger.
They’re very popular in the UK and Australia and elsewhere, and as well as home-baked versions they’re widely available in supermarkets.
Yesterday I was in the mood to bake some biscuits (cookies). It’s part of an ongoing experiment to learn to work with the very fancy oven in my new home. I’m used to the kind of oven where you simply choose a temperature and then bake. Not this oven, which has all kinds of cooking and baking styles. So when a friend came around to visit I thought I’d try making biscuits.
I planned to make gingernuts, but it turned out I had no ground ginger — I threw out quite a few aging spices when I moved, and clearly I hadn’t yet replaced them. Nor did I have any fresh ginger in the fridge. I did have some Japanese pickled ginger, but didn’t think that would do the trick. What I did have was a small jar of candied ginger (also known as crystallized ginger — cooked in sugar then dried).
So instead of trying to make gingernuts with no proper ginger, I decided to make ANZAC biscuits and add spices to them. ANZAC biscuits are dead easy and I almost always have the ingredients in the cupboard, so they’re a good fall-back biscuit. Plus they’re yummy. So I mixed up a batch of ANZAC biscuits, and added spices to it — cinnamon, allspice, mixed spices and ground pepper, and I threw some of the candied ginger into the blender, chopped it finely, and added that to the mix. (No exact quantities, I’m sorry, as I just made it up.)
These are the biscuits I made — basic ANZACs with added spices and bits of candied ginger. They look a bit rough and rustic, but that’s because they’re made with rolled oats and coconut, among other things. There’s a recipe here, which also gives you the background as to why they’re called ANZACs. It also gives you an alternative to golden syrup, which is a household item here, but not in the USA.
Yesterday the biscuits tasted very nice — we ate them warm out of the oven — but I couldn’t really taste any ginger. That was okay, because as it turned out, my friend wasn’t a big fan of ginger. But today I can really taste the ginger, and I like it so much I’m going to add those spices and ginger to every ANZAC biscuit I make in future.
What is your ‘moderately slow’ oven temp? We have a pretty good international section in one of our stores here and I have bought golden syrup in the past so have made ANZAC cookies. They’re pretty good, but no coconut for me! Neither of us are big on ginger, but I’m always happy to try a new cookie recipe. I finished making chocolate chip about half an hour ago. Hubs gets one every morning to have at work with his coffee. :)
Theo, I googled it ; Moderately slow325–350 °F160–180 °C
That recipe is from an old cookbook of mum’s.
I also googled substitutes for coconut and found this: Recipes calling for shredded or desiccated coconut are often doing so to add texture as well as flavour. In these instance shredded or desiccated nuts or dried fruits will work well in most recipes. Ground almonds, crushed pistachios or pecans can be used instead of desiccated coconut.
We call them gingersnaps or ginger cookies in the US, Anne – and homemade are always the best! Ginger snaps are usually thin, while ginger cookies can be thin or thick and chewy. We are big fans of anything ginger, so I have several recipes, English, French and American – and now Australian, thank you! I usually only make them at Christmas, when I make several kinds of cookies as gifts for neighbors and to mail to male relatives. My favorite recipe has molasses and ground ginger, as well as black pepper! I also have a favorite shortbread recipe that… Read more »
Thanks, Constance, yes, we bake both gingernuts and ANZACs either chewy or crisp — for crisp make them thinner and bake for a little longer. Your molasses and ground ginger and black pepper recipe sounds yummy. I meant to taste molasses last time I was in the USA, but the opportunity didn’t come up and I forgot to buy some. Here we have golden syrup, which is lighter (and delicious), and treacle which is dark.
I often make gifts from the kitchen for Christmas too, but not always biscuits.
Oddly, I live in a pretty rural area, but we’re between two wonderful small towns that really cater to us here and kind of compete with each other in how much they can offer us. It’s nice though because Whole Foods and Trader Joe’s can’t hold a candle and since they’re both miles and miles away, I don’t have to worry about driving an hour to get to anything. I would be very sad if they closed.
I think we call them gingersnaps here? I like them but if I eat too many, which is very easy to do, they disagree with me! The ANZAC biscuits sound like fun. I will try to make them some rainy winter day. Thanks.
Jeanette, one of the reasons I like making ANZACs is because I mix them in one pot — a large saucepan. I melt the butter and golden syrup, then stir in the dry ingredients. It’s a one pot wash up. <g> And they’re yummy.
So funny, I was nibbling on candied ginger while prepping my quiche tonight and my 1970’s American cookbook says cook in a slow oven (325 degrees) so I’ve got most of the bases covered. Now I wish I had made cookies, but my husband might have objected to ginger cookies for dinner.
LOL. Maybe for dessert with coffee?
Who could object to cookies for dinner?!?!? But would it be red wine or white? :))
Gingernuts were the original ANZAC biscuit.
Here is the recipe published in 1916 encouraging women to bake the small hard biscuits as comfort for our boys overseas from a Mrs Barnard.
Thanks, Sharon. As far as I know a lot of woman were experimenting to find the best biscuit to send to their men overseas, and there’s a whole range. It’s a fascinating rabbit hole.