Saturday, January 26, 2013

Lamington Biscuits – nothing “poofy” or “woolly” about these, Sir!

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Like many famous dishes, the true origins have been lost in a tangle of legends. One popular explanation for the creation of the Lamington goes like this. A maidservant in the house of Lord Lamington, a Governor of Queensland, accidentally dropped the Governor’s favourite cake, a vanilla sponge, into chocolate, and the Governor suggested dipping it in coconut to avoid messy fingers. Hmmmm. Given that the Governor apparently referred to them as "those bloody poofy woolly biscuits" this seems unlikely.
Another story suggests that Lamington’s chef improvised a dessert for unexpected visitors by dipping leftover cake into chocolate and covering it with coconut. As the lord apparently hated waste, this seems more likely. Who knows!
I had set out to make Lamingtons to mark Australia day but reading about Lamington, he seemed such a disagreeable chap, and I wasn’t inspired. Instead, I have taken the flavours and turned them into a biscuit (cookie).
I have two reasons for using fresh coconut. The first is that a fresh coconut has been sitting on the kitchen table for the last month, begging to be used before it ossifies; and the second is that it plays such a starring role in these cookies that tender fresh coconut is much more preferable to the chewy desiccated stuff. These delicate lacy biscuits manage to be chewy and crisp at the same time. I’m sure Lord Lamington would heartily disapprove.

For approximately 1 dozen biscuits you will need...
... to pre-heat the oven to 180°C

125g butter
75g caster sugar
1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
a pinch of sea salt
150g plain flour
50g fresh coconut, coarsely grated
60g dark chocolate, chopped into pea-sized bits (you will be rolling the dough to a thickness of about 4mm so the chocolate pieces shouldn't be any larger than this) 

1                    Place the butter and sugar in a mixing bowl (or stand mixer) and beat together until fluffy and lighter in colour. Add in the vanilla extract and salt and beat until combined.
2                    Add the flour and beat until the mixture comes together in a ball.
3                    Add the coconut and chocolate and mix until distributed throughout the dough.
4                    Roll out on a floured work surface to a thickness of about 4mm. Cut into whatever shape you desire using a floured cookie cutter.
5                    Place on a baking sheet leaving plenty of space between the biscuits as they spread out. Bake in the pre-heated oven for 10 minutes or until lightly golden.
6                     Remove from the oven and leave to set for about 3 minutes before transferring to a cooling rack. If you try to transfer them immediately they are lightly to fall to pieces, delicate little things that they are.
7                     When cool, dust with icing sugar 

I gave these to my coconut-detesting taste tester without mentioning the hated ingredient. The verdict: “Mmmm... mmmmmmmmmmmmm – even if they have got coconut in them!” Score! 

Happy Australia Day!
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Sprigs of Rosemary said...

I had not heard of Lamingtons before and I'm pretty sure, given your description, that I'm glad I didn't meet the man. Your biscuits, however, are a whole 'nother story. Enough to make me want to buy a coconut! (Your pictures are lovely, too.)

Andrea_TheKitchenLioness said...

Hester, I must say that the biscuits you created look and sound just wonderful and delicate - what a creative and delicious way to celebrate Australia Day! I really like that you used freshly grated and not dessicated coconut in your recipe, I believe it makes quite a difference to be using fresh ingredients!

Happy Valley Chow said...

These look delicious, I will definitely have to try them! Thanks for sharing :)

Happy Valley Chow

Choc Chip Uru @ Go Bake Yourself said...

You are a genius my friend, I think it is perfect!
Lamingtons and cookies :)

Choc Chip Uru

motherrimmy said...

You had me drooling as soon as you mentioned coconut. Then add dark chocolate and I'm in heaven. Happy belated Australia Day!

Cooking Quidnunc said...

coconut is my obsession, these look great

Caitriona said...

Lamingtons are delicious but very messy. These on the other hand look and sound fantastic. Great recipe!

wok with ray said...

To me, coconut is one of the best ingredients to use in sweet dishes. Your biscuits look delicious with coconuts and I would have it anytime of the day with tea. Have a lovely week, Hester! :)

Simply Life said...

oh these look fabulous! I love the flavors in this!

Magnolia Verandah said...

My lamington's turned out like biscuits last year!! Hence I didn't even attempt them again this year...but these biscuits I sure these would be much appreciated even after Australia Day. Just need to find an Australian shaped cookie cutter and then they would be very nationalistic. So brave grating that fresh coconut.

Hester said...

@ MV - you could cut a rough Australia shape with a knife - they spread so whatever shape you cut it will blur, and it was no trouble to grate the coconut - I have a pretty sharp grater but the food processor would do just as well. It was good exercise n well worth the effort - I'd go for fresh any time it's available from now on - love the subtle coconut flavour.

Amy (Savory Moments) said...

These look delicious. I have been loving coconut more than usual lately so I'd love to try these!

Jill @ MadAboutMacarons said...

Love it, Hester - I adore food stories like this. Whatever the origins, they do look good. You know? I've never eaten a lamington biscuit in my life. I think this is serious.

Cucina49 said...

I agree that those look neither poofy nor wooly, but I love the story behind them. They look delicious!

Nami | Just One Cookbook said...

You know how amazing it is that I even drool by looking at your ingredient photos. FRESH coconuts and those dark chocolate blocks made me long for these cookies..and the final look is way too perfect! My gosh, I really want to eat these!

Koci said...

I had never heard of Lamingtons, but they sound cool. And I love your version of them, too! Very yummy! :D