Tuesday, February 01, 2011
Everyone has their own favorite festive cookies. I thought mine is the by-now-made-to-death-in-my-kitchen pineapple tarts – I promise to tell you about that by tomorrow. I was pretty convinced until I popped one of these into my mouth, got knocked back with a few seconds of salty yet sweet melting peanut-butter-like heaven and then having my hand in auto-pilot reaching for another cookie.
That is when I remembered how much peanut cookies I can eat at each house when I went Ang Pow (auspicious festive red packet with money inside to bring good fortune) collecting during the Chinese New Years of my younger days.
There was no initial plan to bake this but I chanced on this recipe while scoring the Internet for the best method to shape a Nastar pineapple tart by hand. Considering (a) how easy it is to make, (b) it doesn’t require any butter (you don’t want to know how many blocks of butter I’ve used for those tarts) and (c) it is my mother’s favorite, I went out to get some peanuts to test out the recipe.
I couldn’t find raw skinned peanuts at the supermarket and settled with pre-roasted ones instead.
Do not settle like I did.
Pre-roasted peanuts are not as fresh and the cookies – although really good – left a slightly rancid aftertaste at the back of the palette. Two bags of skin-on raw peanuts later came home with me. A little more work was required to skin them but it was worth it. The aroma of freshly roasted and ground peanut promised a much better end product.
If you like this cookie as much as I do, I reckon you should double the recipe. My teaspoon-sized mini ones hardly filled two small cookie jars. After one jar for Mum,
Take it easy with the New Year shopping and marketing. Whatever you have in your cookie jars this year, I want some.
Chinese New Year Peanut Cookies (花生饼)
Adapted from Billy Law’s A Table for Two. Instructions for toasting peanuts in the oven from Smitten Kitchen’s Chocolate-Peanut Spread.
Yields about 110 teaspoon-sized cookies
- 300 grams raw peanuts
- 200 grams castor sugar
- 250 grams all purpose flour
- 200 milliliters canola oil (may not use all of it)
- 1 teaspoon salt
- a handful (about 50 grams) raw peanuts
- 1 egg, lightly beaten for egg wash
Preheat the oven at 200°C and lay out two baking sheets lined with parchment.
Lightly roast all the peanuts in a frying pan over medium low heat for about 10 minutes till fragrant. Alternatively you can roast the peanuts on a parchment lined cookie sheet in the oven once it has reached 200°C for 10 minutes, rattling them around halfway through to ensure even browning.
If you are using peanuts with skin on, remove the skin after the peanuts have cooled a little. Weigh out 300 grams of the peanuts. Half the remaining handful and cut them into quarters. If you are making a larger sized cookie, you may skip the cutting and use a half peanut for decorating instead. Set aside.
Grind the 300 grams of roasted peanuts till fine and put them in a large mixing bowl. The oil from the ground peanut will make them stick into lumps; break them apart with your fingers.
Sift the flour, salt and sugar into the peanut mixture and mix them together until well combined. Drizzle half of the oil into the bowl and use your hand to knead the mixture together.
Pour the rest of the oil while still kneading the mixture until all the sugar has melted and you can roll the mixture up into a ball without sticking to the bowl or your fingers. Then test it with a small lump of the mixture and roll into a ball between your palms. If it doesn’t crumble, then your mixture is ready. If not, add just bit more oil until you can roll them into a ball.
Wash, clean and dry your hands. Sit down, turn on the TV and switch to your favorite channel and ready for some ball rolling action. (This is the part I like most.)
Scoop a heaped teaspoon of the mixture into your palm, and roll them into small balls. Place them on the baking sheets. If you are like me (with a mild OCD tendency) and want your cookies to be all the same just-nice-mouthful size, you can pinch a lump of dough and weigh it to be about 8 grams before rolling instead of using a teaspoon.
Put a little quartered peanut on top of each ball and glaze it with the egg wash. Bake in the oven for 17 minutes or until golden brown. Cool completely on a parchment lined wire rack.
The cookies store well in an airtight container for up to two weeks.
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