My mum had always wanted to learn how to make but never had the chance to learn from my auntie. This year, I decided to rope in my mum to make kok chai together. I'm only good with the oven, but if you ask me to handle woks and deep-frying stuffs, I had better do it with my expert mum by my side. ;)
Making kok chai really needs lots of patience because you need to wrap each individual puff with peanuts, seal it and make jagged patterns with your fingers. If you filled with too much peanuts that touches the outer corners of the skin, the skin would become non-sticky and difficult to seal it tightly. As we were approaching midnight, both mum and I were already tired that our productivity and patience really goes down. We just wanted to finish up all the dough, so the puffs gets uglier and bigger. *LOL* But it was all worth it because the kok chai, despite having a slightly thicker skin, were very crunchy and delicious! This is our first attempt and we considered ourselves to be successful ;)
Lesson learnt here is that never try to bake and make anything in the night time unless you are a night owl who's exceptionally energetic at night. Thanks to my great, noble mummy who stayed up with me till late!I'm sorry that I digressed so much because the recipe for this post is not kok chai but chinese almond cookies. I had drafted this post earlier with the recipe ready but I am now so eager to relate my kok chai-making experience so I decided to just go ahead and talk about it now. usually when the excitement dies down, I would not have the mood to post it again. :)
This year, due to my hectic work schedule, I had reduced much of my to-do new year bakes list as compared to previous year. As much as I wish I could bake new year goodies of all sorts, I just have to be realistic. I tried out a new recipe for chinese almond cookie but it was not this recipe. This is the kind of recipe that is similar to the chinese walnut cookie that you sometimes get when you go hong kong. It is very crispy and usually comes in bigger size. I made this because I wanted to use up the shortening left in my fridge. It is a very unhealthy cookie because of the use of lard/ shortening but it is this ingredient that gives it its unique crispiness but everyone raves about it so I think it is alright since I am sharing good stuffs with many people. ;)
This photo shot was not a freshly baked one as I managed to get this photo shot with the last one and a half piece left after a few days later. I find that this type of cookies is not commonly sold during chinese new year. So why not bake this for new year to serve your guest? :)
Chinese Almond Cookies
210g plain flour
3/4 tsp ammonium bicarbonate (I replace with 1/4 tsp baking soda)
50g ground almonds
100g lard (I used shortening)
100g unsalted butter, chilled
200g fine sugar (I reduced to 170g) (do not use caster sugar)
2 egg yolks
1 1/2 tsp almond extract (I used 1 tsp vanilla essence and 1/2 tsp almond essence for some who do not like the too strong almond taste)
3/4 tsp salt
1 egg yolk beaten with 2 tbsp water, for glazing whole blanched almonds, for decoration
- Sift flour and ammonium bicarbonate together in a bowl. Add ground almonds and whisk until thoroughly mixed together. Set aside.
- Combine lard, butter, sugar and salt in a mixing bowl and cream until well blended. (sugar will not dissolve thoroughly, this is fine). Best in egg yolks one at a time, then add vanilla and almond extract and beat to incorporate.
- Add flour mixture and stir until dough comes together in a ball. Wrap dough in plastic wrap and chill for at least 45 minutes.
- Preheat oven to 180°C.
- Prepare baking sheets lined with baking parchment.
- Divide dough into 24 portions (about 30g each). - This would yield a very large cookie. I used 15g per portion and the diameter was about 6cm
- Roll each portion into a ball, spacing about 5 cm apart.
- Brush lightly with yolk and press a whole almond into each one, flattening each ball slightly. (I omitted this)
- Bake for 15-18 minutes, until deep golden brown. Cookies will flatten out during baking.
- Let cookies cool on baking sheet until they are firm enough to remove, then transfer to a rack to cool completely.
- Store in airtight container as soon as they are cool.
Recipe Source: Food & Travel - Jan 2010 Issue
I will post more pictures of other chinese new year goodies when I have the time. ;)