As much as I’m against monarchies in principle, I can’t help but love the world’s favorite royals – William, Kate and their just-too-adorable baby George. I didn’t want to love them, but so many people, I just can’t help it. So if you follow news of the Windsor family (either proudly or ashamedly) like I do, then you’ll know that William, Kate and George have been visiting Australia and New Zealand. The royals’ visit will end after they take part in the ANZAC Day commemorations in Australia.
So what is ANZAC Day? It’s essentially the Australian and New Zealander version of Veterans Day and Memorial Day rolled into one. Originally, ANZAC Day was meant to specifically honor the soldiers who fought at Gallipoli (a peninsula in the Ottoman Empire – now part of modern-day Turkey) during World War I. But there have been so many wars since the supposed “War to end all wars”, and it would just be rude not to honor soldiers from all the other wars.
According to Wikipedia, apparently ANZAC cookies were sent to soldiers during WWI by their wives. And those of you interested in eggless baking may be interested to know that ANZAC cookies contain no eggs (due to the shortage of eggs during the war).
Looking at the ingredients for ANZAC cookies, the main ingredients are rolled oats (hooray!), coconut, butter and sugar. While I’d never judge anyone for eating cookies for breakfast, I wanted to make this baked oatmeal healthy and more breakfast-appropriate – i.e. no butter and minimal sugar. Unfortunately, it was obvious that I couldn’t sweeten this oatmeal with banana. Since there are no strong flavors in ANZAC cookies, it would just taste like bananas. I considered using applesauce, but then I was worried about it tasting like apples. And more importantly, I’m currently out of applesauce and couldn’t be bothered to walk to the grocery store.
Then I thought of something else: dates! When dried dates are rehydrated, they almost taste like caramel – and that buttery sugary taste is totally what cookies are all about. I also added a little bit of apple juice for some extra sweetness (but if you don’t have any apple juice, you could probably replace it with more water).
But a word to the wise: When (in the recipe) I say that the dates should be “finely chopped”, I mean finely chopped – otherwise it’ll taste like dates and not like a cookie!
Now I’m going to be completely honest with you: As far as I know, I’ve never tried an ANZAC cookie. But I have looked up recipes for the cookies, and did my best to make this baked oatmeal taste like a healthy ANZAC cookie! So I know this baked oatmeal tastes really good (and I’ve gotten a second opinion on that), but admittedly I can’t guarantee that the oatmeal tastes “authentic”. So if anyone out there has tried an ANZAC cookie, I’d love to know how this recipe compares!
And I realize it’s more “Australian” to call them ANZAC biscuits, but, you know, tomato to-mah-to.
(Hmm… I’m not convinced that saying works if you’re writing it, as opposed to saying it!)
- 3 dates (dried), finely chopped
- ¼ cup hot water
- 2 tablespoons apple juice
- ⅛ teaspoon blackstrap molasses
- ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
- 2 tablespoon almond milk
- ½ cup rolled oats
- 2 tablespoons shredded coconut
- ¼ teaspoon baking powder
- Tiny pinch of salt
- In a bowl, combine the dates, hot water, apple juice, molasses and vanilla extract. Leave to sit for at least 15 minutes, or preferably in the fridge overnight.
- Grease a small ramekin. Preheat the oven to 350°F (180°C).
- Add the almond milk to the date mixture. Then add the rolled oats, coconut, baking powder and salt. Mix until well combined.
- Pour the mixture into the prepared ramekin. Bake for 22 to 27 minutes, and enjoy!