Christmas cookie (or, more accurately, biscuit) swaps are non-existent here in Australia, but they sound fantastic. The making, swapping and eating of biscuits accompanied by warm drinks and Christmas carols sounds wonderful. I am a Christmas fan, but as a busy musician during the Christmas period, I often have to rush my shopping and cooking time. On the upside, I do get to sing a whole lotta Christmas music covering hundreds of years of composition.....starting from about this weekend!
As everyone knows, Christmas occurs in high Summer here and is more a time of sweating over the traditional English-style roast dinner in the heat of the day, or accepting our climate and serving a cold seafood buffet. We do both, one in the afternoon and one at night. Last year I embarked upon a large project of baking Lebkuchen, from a recipe which completely cleared out my spice cupboard. They were excellent biscuits, but my main memory is of having to set up two fans either side of me, to keep the dough and my hands cool enough to actually work!
Although I really wanted to make something much more involved and...well...elegant...for this IMBB entry, lke Nigella's pistachio macaroons,I maganimously asked two men to whom I'd be serving these biscuits, and they both requested (independently, and with great enthusiasm!) cornflake cookies. A memory of their childhood? I wasn't too upset really, as I hadn't made cornflake cookies for years and am always happy to bake when I know people will enjoy the end product.
So, to find a cornflake cookie recipe. I thought, in keeping with the retro theme that I'd turn straight to the Big Mummy of Australian cookbooks of the 1970s: The Australian Women's Weekly New Cookbook. Every household seems to have one of these still floating around. The pictures are of the execrable "look! We now have colour photos!" variety - all khaki greens, and lurid orange, with the food presented very messily on fussy coloured plates. Certainly not appetising. However while the savoury dishes are now quite dated, the baked goods and traditional cakes chapters are still as useful as ever, and I found not one but THREE cornflake cookie recipes.
The one I choose made a chewy cookie, somewhat like a baked Honey Joy. They didn't include any flour and were much more delicious than I expected. Needless to say, once I overcame my reluctance to give them away and eat them all myself, they were received with great enthusiasm and have all disappeared! They are incredibly easy to make, and will be very well received by grown men and others alike.
Caramel Cornflake Cookies (for Christmas)
from Australian Women's Weekly New Cookbook 1978
125 g (4 oz.) butter
1/2 cup brown sugar, lightly packed
1/2 cup castor sugar
1/2 cup dessicated coconut
3 cups cornflakes, lightly crushed
1/2 cup finely-chopped mixed nuts
Melt butter over low heat; add sugars; stir until well combined. Add coconut, lightly crushed cornflakes, lightly-beaten egg and nuts; mix well.
Place teaspoons of mixture on lightly-greased oven trays; press mixture together with fingers. Bake in moderate oven (~180 C) 8-10 minutes or until golden brown. Leave on tray a few minutes; remove with spatula; cool on wire rack.
Makes approx. 35.