Afghan Cookies Are The Cereal-Filled Sweets You Need To Try

Despite the name, Afghan cookies do not hail from the Central Asian nation of Afghanistan. They are a popular cookie eaten in New Zealand (it's called an Afghan biscuit in the Land of the Kiwi) consisting of a cocoa/sugar/butter/flour-based batter mixed with cornflakes that are baked and draped in chocolate icing, then crowned with a half walnut. The traditional treat derives a crispy and crunchy texture from the cereal while the cocoa and chocolate frosting lend it a rich creaminess, with the walnut on top adding a hint of saltiness to counterbalance the sweet.

Afghan cookies are a national recipe of New Zealand that has become a classic part of their culinary heritage. It is linked to a childhood nostalgia that people all around the world can relate to — smelling the intoxicating aroma of a baked confection filling the house and enveloping our olfactory senses in a warm embrace. But why the name?

A lot of origin stories, nothing that sticks

Afghan cookies are believed to have originated in New Zealand, although the exact date of their creation is uncertain. The first mention of the dessert appeared in the 1940s in the "Edmunds Cookery Book," (which publishes recipes featuring traditional New Zealand cuisine) but the recipe doesn't reveal any clues about its history. Likewise, it also appeared in the 1940 version of "The Sure to Rise Cookery book" as well.

There is also no definitive answer as to where the name comes from. Some believe the cookie was so named because it resembled the topography of Afghanistan. It's also possibly connected to the Anglo-Afghan wars fought between Britain and Afghanistan in the 19th century, part of a care package sent by wives of New Zealand soldiers. The rationale behind this is that the substitution of cereal for eggs in the recipe would have helped the cookies last longer, and survive the extended journey to the front lines.

While there are many theories, no one knows the exact truth. Whatever the reason for the appellation, Afghan cookies have endured as an established recipe, much to the delight of both Kiwi children and adults.