Food & Drink Magazine

Afghan Biscuits

By Clevermuffin @Clevermuffin

Afghan biscuit on a plate
An Afghan biscuit is a traditional New Zealand biscuit made from cocoa powder, butter, flour and cornflakes, topped with chocolate icing and a nut. Like any decent thing that comes from New Zealand, we Australian’s like to claim it (you can have Russel Crowe back now).

Afghan biscuits with a jug of icing and plate of almond slivers

Invented in the 1940’s the actual reason why it’s called an Afghan biscuit is debated, with no reliable sources one way or another.

Afghan biscuits waiting for their icing to dry on a rack

I personally like the theory that they were invented by a New Zealand woman to send to her beau posted in Afghanistan during the second World War. Like the ANZAC biscuit,  invented to send to soldiers in WW1, the recipe contains no eggs and for this reason is suitable for posting overseas.

Now, pay attention my lovely US blogger friends and readers: like the ANZAC biscuit this recipe comes with a warning. DO NOT use shredded coconut instead of desiccated (dried) coconut. Notes on where to get it or make it in the recipe below. When I tried to make ANZAC biscuits with shredded coconut I ended up with a gooey (yet tasty) mess on my tray, and see no reason why you wouldn’t end up with something with Afghans.

Afghan biscuits on a rack

Enjoy. Post overseas. Eat as they are.  It’s all good.

200 grams butter
1/2 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla essence
2 tablespoons of cocoa powder
1 1/2 cups plain flour
1 cup lightly crushed cornflakes
1/2 cup desiccated coconut*

1 cup icing sugar
2 tablespoons cocoa powder
3 tablespoons water


  1. Preheat over to 180C and line trays with greaseproof paper.
  2. Using an electric beater cream butter and sugar, add vanilla essence
  3. Add flour, cocoa and coconut until combined.
  4. Add cornflakes on low speed and mix until just combined.
  5. Roll dough into balls and place onto prepared trays.
  6. Bake for 15-20 minutes.
  7. To make icing, combine all ingredients and mix well (i.e. when there are no more lumps).
  8. Allow biscuits to cool before icing and topping with flaked almond or walnut.

Quantity: Makes 24

Healthy? 144 calories a cookie

Gluten free? No, but I think would work OK with rice flour.

Storage: As they have no eggs, these are great for storing and making ahead. Store in airtight container.

* Warning: The type of coconut you buy in American supermarkets is not desiccated coconut. American supermarket coconut is very moist, dessicated is dried (which is what you get in Australia and the UK.  American’s can buy dessicated coconut from healthfood stores, or make dry coconut via this method.


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