The Herald Bulletin

May 9, 2013

Cookie store founder goes Down Under to find recipe

By Nancy R. Elliott
The Herald Bulletin

ANDERSON, Ind. — In her quest to search out cookie secrets worldwide, Judy Zinszer lately returned from across the globe, recipe in hand. This spring she trekked to Australia, New Zealand and Fiji looking for that special recipe to bring home. It wasn’t easy, but Zinszer pinned down a worthy recipe, and she’s featuring it for one month only at Zinszer’s Cookies, 2245 Broadway in Anderson. She’s calling it “Koala Krunch.”

“It has macadamia nuts in it,” said Zinszer. The pièce de résistance, however, comes in the form of lemon icing over the rich butter cookie. She discovered the recipe from her Aussie tablemates, Robin and Peter Behnkendorff, on a ship cruise.

“It was a family recipe handed down,” said Zinszer. She learned that macadamia nuts are a prevalent crop in Australia. Her shipmates had the trees in their backyard, and an abundance of the nuts. Here in the U.S., however, macadamias are a pricey commodity.

Zinszer at first found the cookie pickings rather slim as she explored local culture and terrain. The ever intrepid Zinszer apparently came by her journeying genes via her mom, who made the six-week trip with Zinszer and her husband, Kendall. Her mother, Ruby Webb, will be 100 years old this fall.

“On my bucket list was to pet a koala bear,” said Zinszer. Upon arrival in Brisbane, she discovered that koala-petting is now against the law.

“People were handling them so much they were dying,” said Zinszer. Not to be daunted, however, she did a little research and discovered the Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary was a short drive north of Brisbane. At the sanctuary, she discovered they could accommodate her dream because they have so many koalas, no individual koala suffers with too much handling.

“I got to hold one,” said Zinszer. It was a learning experience. Zinszer discovered that koalas have coarse fur, and they don’t like to be cuddled. She said they agitate easily, and do not like to be petted on the head. So, they have to be petted from the waist down.

Zinszer also got to see lots of kangaroos.

“They’re very curious creatures. We saw a lot of babies in the pouches. They’re cute,” said Zinszer.

“In Fiji, we had a wonderful day spent in a community of native people,” said Zinszer. She and her party were taken into the jungle where the natives came out with harpoons and herded them along.

“They showed us all about their life.” That included a native dance around a fire in which Zinszer participated, and a firewalking ceremony.

She learned that the natives depend on bananas so much that they defend against the possibility of losing them in a cyclone. Zinszer said they dig out a pit, put bananas in it, and cover the bananas with leaves. The pit remains for several years.

“I guess they ferment in there,” said Zinszer. The fermented food is, apparently, edible. Among other things that were at one time considered edible in this culture were ... people.

“Up until the ’70s or so, they were actually eating people. They were cannibals.” She said it was an accepted practice for the conquering tribe.

Lucky for Anderson, Zinszer just brought back a great cookie recipe instead.

“My son said it’s the best cookie of the month yet,” said Zinszer. The cookie trekker visited kiwi farms while she was down under, so there may be a kiwi cookie in the offing, too.

If you go

What:  Zinszer’s cookie of the month - Koala Krunch

Where: Zinszer’s Bakery and Cookies, 2245 Broadway, Anderson

When: Available now through the end of May