Thursday, February 11, 2010

Chinese Almond Cookies

Happy Chinese New Year!...a few days early.  2010 is the Year of the Tiger!  I decided to jump this recipe ahead of the 8 others on my list to post so that in case you wanted to make these treats for Chinese New Year (which this year happens to coincide with Valentine's Day) you could.

Let me start by saying that it really just wasn't my day in the kitchen yesterday when I was making these.  When I was making our pretzel chicken tenders (on my list of 8 recipes yet to post!) for dinner I went to get an egg out of the carton and it was apparently stuck.  I must have used too much force because the darn egg was crushed between my fingers and made a huge mess in the carton and in our fridge.  (Must be all that jazzercising...I don't know my own strength!!). 

Then, when I went to make these cookies, I accidently tipped over my (new) bottle of pure almond extract and lost A LOT of the bottle.  That stuff was expensive so I ended up trying to use a rubber spatula to scrape the extract from my counter into a bowl held on the edge of the counter and then poured it back into the bottle.  I was able to salvage some of it, this way. 

But that's not all, folks.  You know the old adage that bad things always happens in 3?  Well, mess #3 for the day happened when I went to separate my eggs (thanks Sig and Kristen for buying this off our wedding registry lol).  It must not have been securely on my bowl because the separator slipped off and out plopped a lot of egg whites onto my nice hardwood floor.  Ai yah!  (Yes, this is me appropriately throwing a traditional Chinese expression of lament into a post about Chinese New Year)  Certainly wasn't my night in the kitchen :-/. the end I have to say it was all worth it!  I made these delicious cookies and now I'm sharing the recipe with you to make your own.  Hopefully without all the mishaps that I had, though.  I brought the bulk of the cookies into work but kept some for ourselves.  It was a bit crispier  than I prefer in a cookie but that's generally how they are.  I'd love to try another recipe sometime that uses ground almonds (or almond flour), too.

As always, a few recipe notes.  This recipe came from a book photocopy that my mom gave me.  It is originally titled "Plain Almond Cookies" and looks to come from a Chinese Recipe Cookbook as it includes dim-sum recipes, too.  I have no idea of the original source but it's on Desserts section, Page 37 (right after the Almond Dream Bars).  If anyone knows the original source, please tell me so I can update it on here.  My photocopy also has what I am guessing is the Chinese Translation for each recipe.  I increased the amount of almond extract (in my attempt to salvage it from my countertop spill!...don't worry, my counters were clean!) 1/2 tsp and am glad I did because it is an ALMOND cookie, after all.  I also topped each cookie with a whole almond (what I had on hand) but slivers of blanched almonds would also work nicely here.  I found that the cookie was paler in color than what I'm used to seeing.  If you want to get that really golden yellow color to your cookie like the kind you find in restaurants, feel free to add yellow food coloring.  Finally, I used all butter because I didn't have margarine on hand.  I think had I made the recipe as described, it would have been a bit fluffier than with all butter.

Want to make an all out Chinese meal?  I don't have too many authentic recipes but I do have a "Chinese" tag to the right.  I have many recipes (like Wonton Noodle Soup, Xiao Long Bao (Shanghai Juicy Soup Buns), Singapore Mei Fun, etc.) that I'd like to make and share with you but it's on my to-do list.  Check the tag later for new additions :)

You might be interested in the following for now:
Gung Hay Fat Choy!
Happy New Year!

Chinese Almond Cookies
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Prep Time: 1 hour
Cook Time: 25 minutes
Yields: approximately 30 cookies

  • 1/2 cup (1 stick, 125 mL) butter
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick, 125 mL) margarine
  • 1 cup (250 mL) sugar
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 2 teaspoons (10 mL) almond extract
  • 1 teaspoon (5 mL) vanilla extract
  • 2 cups (500 mL) all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon (5 mL) baking powder
  • 30 whole or slivered almonds
  • 1 egg white, lightly beaten
  1. Cream together butter, margarine, and sugar in large mixing bowl using electric mixer.
  2. In a small bowl, separate yolks from egg whites.  Set egg whites aside and add yolks and extract flavorings to mixing bowl.  Mix well.
  3. Sift together the flour and baking powder.  Add the mixture gradually to the creamed mixture, beating until well blended.
  4. Refridgerate the dough for 45 minutes.
  5. Near the end of the 45 minute refrigeration time, begin preheating oven to 325 degrees (165 C).
  6. Remove dough from fridge and roll about 1 Tablespoon (15 mL) of dough into a ball.  Place onto an ungreased cookie sheet and repeat, placing 2 inches apart, until no more dough remains.  Gently push an almond onto each ball then brush egg whites over each.
  7. Bake at 325 degrees (165 C) until golden brown, for 18-25 minutes.  Remove from cookie sheet and cool on wire racks.  Store in airtight containers after they are completely cooled.
Source: Unknown Chinese cookbook

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