January 31, 2010

Chinese Almond Cookies

14 days to Chinese New Year. Have you started your cny baking? :) I just completed a batch of peanut puffs, aka kok chai last night when everyone should have been in slumberland. kok chai is another chinese festive snack not to be missed, especially if you are a peanut lover. Since I was young, we would always be expecting my auntie, who makes great kok chai to give us some (if she makes enough). Otherwise, we would rely on store bought which is usually not as good as homemade ones.

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


  1. Sift flour and ammonium bicarbonate together in a bowl. Add ground almonds and whisk until thoroughly mixed together. Set aside.
  2. 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.
  3. Add flour mixture and stir until dough comes together in a ball. Wrap dough in plastic wrap and chill for at least 45 minutes.
  4. Preheat oven to 180°C.
  5. Prepare baking sheets lined with baking parchment.
  6. 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
  7. Roll each portion into a ball, spacing about 5 cm apart.
  8. Brush lightly with yolk and press a whole almond into each one, flattening each ball slightly. (I omitted this)
  9. Bake for 15-18 minutes, until deep golden brown. Cookies will flatten out during baking.
  10. Let cookies cool on baking sheet until they are firm enough to remove, then transfer to a rack to cool completely.
  11. 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. ;)

January 13, 2010

Strawberry Muffins

Have anyone of you been to Quattro Stagiono Deli at Liang Court, Basement one, River Valley Road? If you do, please do feedback to me how you find the food there. Well, there was this food review from the Oct 2008 issue of Food & Travel Magazine featuring this Italian Deli of one-year old (it should be two years old by now).
Specially raved for are their sandwiches, with their "amazing crunch". Being a sandwich lover, why did I ever miss this visiting this place?
Two recipes of their best sellers were featured - Baked Pasta in basil pesto sauce and Muffins Alla Fragola (strawberry muffins). I had been bookmarking the strawberry muffin recipe and finally gave it a try a couple of months back. These muffins were moist with a perfect blend of strawberry and chocolate flavours in one bite. The recipe called for using a mixture of buttermilk and yoghurt and I suppose there must be a reason for doing this. However, I did not want to buy extra ingredients and had used all yoghurt. With chunks of strawberries in every mouthful, this is indeed a luscious treat for a simple muffin. The only downside was the strawberries were rather wet. Should I pat it dry before mixing into the batter?

Muffins Alla Fragola (Strawberry Muffins)
75g butter
230g all-purpose flour
100g sugar
2 tsp baking powder
1tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 egg
125ml plain yoghurt
125ml buttermilk
1 cup raspberries
300g strawberries, quartered
topping ingredients:
40g chocolate chips
50g brown sugar, preferably unrefined
  1. Preheat oven to 200°C and grease a set of muffin tins or prepare muffin paper liners.
  2. Melt butter and set aside to cool.
  3. In a small bowl, combine chocolate chips and brown sugar and set aside.
  4. In a medium mixing bowl, combine dry ingredients (flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt).
  5. In another medium bowl, whisk together wet ingredients (egg, yoghurt, buttermilk, and melted butter).
  6. Male a well in the centre of dry ingredients and pour in wet ingredients. Fold with a spatula until misture is lumpy, do not over-mix.
  7. Then fold in the berries.
  8. Spoon batter into prepared tins and sprinkle chocolate chips and brown sugar mixture on top. Bake for 18 to 20 minutes or until golden brown.
  9. Turn out on a cooling rack to rest, and wait for 10 to 15 minutes before removing from the tin.
Recipe Source: Food & Travel - Oct 2008 Issue (Pg 25)

January 2, 2010

Chocolate Sponge Cake

All thanks to my dd, who made me sad and disappointed, if not I won't be here updating my blog; I would have gone somewhere else with him. :(

Hee hee I'm not trying to speak ill of him here ok. We are fine and he did nothing wrong. Just that in a relationship, no one / not every circumstances is perfect, there has to be lots of give and take, understanding, communication and sometimes letting go and acceptance.
Ok, so that's the reason why I'm free here to do a little blogging of this "darn spongy chocolate sponge cake" I did recently! This recipe was shared by Youfei. The video is execellent. She shared some useful tips to bake a sponge cake. I was also happy that I'm able to use glucose as one of the ingredients that has been left to collect dust on my shelf. LOL

Unlike most spomge cakes that I've made before, this cake is moist and true to its name, it was very spongy and has a great texture. I still do need to tent the top with aluminium foil as it was getting a little burnt.
Do give this choclate sponge cake a try! :D