Feb. 1 is Lunar New Year, the year of the rabbit. My mother in Hong Kong will be working her butt off at this time. For traditional Chinese like her, this is the biggest event of the year. I remember when I was young, all the women folks would gather together and cook for days to get the goodies ready, and while they were cooking they had to say nice things as they believed that it would bring good luck to the household for the rest of the year. So cooking for them was more than just putting food on the table, it was also to bring blessings for the year. Because I had trouble with these “niceties” I was often banned from the kitchen, and they also nicknamed me “toilet mouth”. Maybe that is the reason I never learned to cook properly.
As for us the new year is no big fanfare, the only thing we do is to gather as a family for a big meal, and sometimes if we are too busy we just opted to eat out ( we will have to book well in advance), For this year, it will be pretty the same, because of work and school schedule we will have our family dinner this coming Sunday which is the third day of the new year.
The other day while I was browsing through the food blogs and I came upon this recipe for peanut cookies. Some people have these guys on new year and often they are served as part of the dessert in the twelve-course banquets, for its Chinese name denotes prosperity. This recipe looks quite easy, and that is a good enough reason for me to make them.
This recipe calls for lard which is definitely very unhealthy, but apparently it is used in a lot of the Chinese pastries to get the flaky and melt in the mouth feeling. I don’t even know if they sell lard at the stores, so I used butter instead, a little fusion cooking I supposed. So here is the recipe, from Bread Et Butter
Chinese New Year peanut cookies
Based on Quinn’s recipe
- 2 cups peanuts
- 2 cups plain flour
- 1 cup icing sugar (alternatively, use castor sugar)
- 1 cup corn oil (alternatively, use lard or butter)
- pinch of salt
- 1 egg, beaten
1. Dry fry the peanuts in a wide non-stick pan (over medium heat), until they start to become fragrant and lightly browned. Take care to make sure you do not burn the peanuts.
2. Pulse the peanuts in a food processor, until it becomes a fine powder.
3. Heat the oven to 180’C/ 350 F
4. Place the ground peanuts, flour, sugar and salt in a bowl of a stand mixer*, and mix until well combined.
5. With the stand mixer on (medium speed), slowly trickle the corn oil into the bowl containing the peanut/flour/sugar mixture. Mix until it forms a cohesive dough. You may need more or less oil depending on the weather/humidity. A good guide is to try forming a ball from the dough – it should not crumble.
6. Form the dough into 2cm balls, and place on a baking tray lined with parchment paper. Press down lightly with a chopstick (alternatively, use a straw or a clean pen cover), this forms the typical indentation you see in the cookie.
7. Glaze lightly with the beaten egg.
8. Bake for 15-20 minutes, until they turn a lovely shade of golden brown.
* if you have a food processor, you can use it to mix the cookie dough as it will lead to less washing up! Alternatively, you can use a wooden spoon/your hands to mix the dough together.
I made a boo-boo on the get go. As I fried the peanuts I made the mistake of leaving them unattended for few minutes, and when I came back, a lot of them were burnt. I had to go through them and threw out the blackened ones, but overall they were a little over done. Next time, I will have to stand over it until they turn brown–not black ! But regardless, they are pretty yummy, it is light and not sweet at all.