Life is Great

The Delicious Appreciations of Pick Yin

Not exactly predictable.
Has enough brains for codes
(but can be completely clueless on other more important matters).
Likes her Joe (and her man?) black, her chocolate dark and her food spicy.
“Quam bene vivas refert, non quam diu.” — Seneca

Total Posts   191      Last Updated   23 November 2015 12:00 PM (GMT +8)

Tuesday, February 01, 2011

Chinese New Year Peanut Cookies (花生饼)

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, the rest some for me and some for Vijay, I don’t know what will be left for those of you who will end up at my doorstep for Pai Nian (New Year visit). Maybe some pineapple tarts, if we can hold of finishing those before Chap Goh Meh (the 15th and final day of the New Year festivities).
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.

16 Comments on Chinese New Year Peanut Cookies (花生饼)

Oh nice, that's a great cookie recipe and its not that bad for u since there's no BUTTER involved! I'm definitely gonna try this one Pickyin!
Its been a while so=ince we spoke. Hope u r doing gr8!

Posted by Anonymous Prerna, at Feb 2, 2012, 4:54:00 PM  

Prerna: Yup this is as healthy as it gets with Chinese New Year cookies. Let me know if you like it after trying.

Posted by Blogger PickYin, at Feb 2, 2012, 4:55:00 PM  

Looks and sounds delicious!

Posted by Anonymous Anonymous, at Feb 2, 2012, 4:55:00 PM  

Wow, your cookies look so wonderful. I love that this recipe is simple too-that's always nice Happy Chinese New Year!

Posted by Anonymous Stella, at Feb 2, 2012, 4:55:00 PM  

Stella: I didn't know it's so ridiculously easy to make myself until I stumbled on the recipe. Gong Xi Fah Chai!

Posted by Blogger PickYin, at Feb 2, 2012, 4:56:00 PM  

Hi, this recipe sounds wounderful.
Just wanna ask, how do you knead the mixture together while its in the bowl or do you take it out? Would love to try out this recipe.

Posted by Anonymous lilian, at Feb 2, 2012, 4:56:00 PM  

can the kneading be done with a stand mixer on medium speed and just slowly trickling the oil in?

Posted by Anonymous lilian, at Feb 2, 2012, 4:56:00 PM  

lilian: I knead mine by hand in a large mixing bowl, you don't need to take it out. I don't recommend using a stand mixer as you really only want the dough to come together just combined and then test it by making a small ball. Hope you'll give this a try and enjoy making it. The cookies go really fast!

Posted by Blogger PickYin, at Feb 2, 2012, 4:56:00 PM  

Okay, shall try by hand. Cos i am not sure what the hand action is? Is it sort of like gathering it together and then pressing it down? Or can you just mix it all awhile pressing it? Not sure.

Posted by Anonymous lilian, at Feb 2, 2012, 4:56:00 PM  

lilian: Yes, it's more like the former, like kneading a pasta or bread dough, but just to combine and not vigorous. Using hand and the balling up test is too avoid using too much oil. On the both occasions I made this I used less oil than stated in the recipe. All the best!

Posted by Blogger PickYin, at Feb 2, 2012, 4:57:00 PM  

ok, doing this tmr...just one more question...can i substitute the oil with melted butter? As in melt the butter then let it cool before using? Thanks for ur help.

Posted by Anonymous lilian, at Feb 2, 2012, 4:57:00 PM  

Hey Lilian, all the best. I would say yes you can but it will alter the taste and texture of the cookie. Traditionally lard is used. Butter would definitely enrich it. I can't advice if the baking time would be exactly the same though, so watch it closely.

Posted by Blogger PickYin, at Feb 2, 2012, 4:57:00 PM  

Hi Pick Yin!!

I've made this in previous years but just wondering is there a difference if we use peanut oil or canola oil? Is it just the smell/taste that would be different?

Can't wait to try your recipe!

Posted by Anonymous Peggen, at Feb 2, 2012, 4:57:00 PM  

Peggen: I would advise against peanut oil. You'd want a neutral tasting oil (although it's peanut cookies here, heh) like canola, grapeseed or corn. I've used all three often, for whenever baking recipes call for vegetable oil. Happy baking!

Posted by Blogger PickYin, at Feb 2, 2012, 4:58:00 PM  

Thanks Pickyin!! I don't know why i've always used peanut oil! And I don't usually have them at home so i have to go purposely buy it for this!! Ok will follow your recipe this year and tag you in instagram or twitter =)

Posted by Anonymous Peggen, at Feb 2, 2012, 4:58:00 PM  

Welcome Peggen, all the best!

Posted by Blogger PickYin, at Feb 2, 2012, 4:59:00 PM  

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