At this time of year, I’ve been juggling with career on one hand and the mad Chinese New Year rush on the other.
Sometimes, I wish I was born a multitasker, an outstanding one. Weary days like these have had my brain going nuts, and so are my taste buds (literally). All that crunch and nutty tone seem appealing!
In 24 hours or so, I can gobble up one whole jar of toasted cashew nuts my mom had prepared for Chinese New Year. A sigh or a shake of head usually follows: Her Royal Highness would give me that dismayed look.
This nutty spirit prevails against the cookie monster in me. And so a hankering for traditional Chinese peanut cookies (花生餅).
With Chinese New Year drawing near, for most Malaysians and Singaporeans, it’s hard not to miss festive cookies. (You shall get haunted by them — for at least the first 15 days of the Chinese calendar. Here, we often wind up with
leftovers surplus of cookies well after the festivities.)
Among others, the peanut cookies, a favorite of mine, are extremely popular. Less fuss and much easier to make when compared to other festive treats such as the pineapple tart and Indonesian layered cake (kek lapis legit, or spekkoek). The whole idea is pretty much the same as the one for the green-pea cookies I made last year.
Peanut butter, raw peanuts, flour, salt, oil, egg and sugar — powdered, caster or granulated, it’s to your call.
Indeed. I wouldn’t consider that cheating. A bit unorthodox, though, I must say. Peanut butter intensifies and at the same time, mellows the nuttiness of the cookies. Making the cookies not as dry, too. And it has served its purpose well.
I believe the slightly salted egg wash also adds a magical touch to the cookies. Somehow, that wee bit of salt on the cookies just stimulates saliva flow. It actually facilitates the sweet, nutty invasion to come, which is sooner than you think! After all, peanuts, sugar and salt form a perfect trinity. (Now that I know why I’ve been a honey-roasted-peanut addict!)
|A one-day-old peanut-cookie factory: All these weigh close to six kilograms, and I took a-day leave and slogged the whole day for them. Oh! By the way, there's also a canister of coconut butter cookies. Am I exhausted by now? You bet!|
From what was meant for personal consumption, this recipe helped me garner close to six kilograms worth of unanticipated cookie orders, in a day. So good that even the pickiest eater in my house can’t stop noshing on the peanut cookies.
“Yours are much, much better than those I’ve tasted before,” my brother said as he helped himself to the cookies. “They’re giving me that false perception as if I’m sipping on Chinese peanut paste dessert (花生糊)!”
|Unforeseen episode: These pans of cookies are just part of the orders ...|
Thanks to Amy of Cooking Crave for her generosity in sharing this stellar recipe! I’ve found the recipe for traditional Chinese peanut cookies. And I’m going to be infinitely loyal to it.
With seven ingredients. In five straightforward steps — or six, if patiently letting the cookies cool is considered one. The last thing to do is pop these freshly baked morsels into my mouth for all the hard work.
Hush! Listen closely as the cookie dissolves into bits of nutty bliss in my mouth …
Mmm … Now that the craving for nuttiness is sated. Oh, the Year of the Rabbit! I’m so ready for you!
Together with my rabbit Fifi, I, a Rabbit baby myself, would like to wish you — my reader, my family and friends, blogger-friends and anyone else who celebrates Chinese New Year ...
恭喜發財！揚眉「兔」氣！ (Or “gong hey fatt choy!” in Cantonese, which means congratulations and be prosperous! May the Year of the Rabbit do you proud — very, very proud!)
Traditional Chinese Peanut Cookies (花生餅)
Adapted from Amy’s
* This recipe yields a rather big batch. *
600 g raw peanuts — preferably skinned
* I buy skinned large ground nuts, or kacang tanah besar in Bahasa Malaysia. *
325 g sugar — separated
* Sifted powdered sugar for a superfine, melt-in-your-mouth texture. Caster or granulated sugar for that little crunch in the melt-in-your-mouth cookies. Either way, they're good. *
375 g all-purpose flour — sifted once
½ ~ 1 tsp salt
* I like mine saltier with 1 tsp salt. *
3 Tbsp creamy peanut butter
* Amy uses 2 Tbsp creamy peanut butter and 1 Tbsp softened unsalted or salted butter. Albeit optional, I don’t think they should ever be skipped! *
Enough neutrally flavored oil
* E.g. corn, sunflower-seed or rice-bran oil. Note: You’re going to need quite a fair amount of it. *
Enough peanut halves — skinned
1 egg — at room temperature
Pinch of salt
- Instead of roasting them in a wok with all the constant stirring and “shoveling” for a good chunk of the hour, I toast the peanuts in baking sheet(s), in an oven of 180°C for 15 minutes. By then, they should smell nuttier and look somewhat toasted. Remove the nuts from the oven and set aside to cool in the sheet(s) completely before use.
- In a food processor or coffee grinder, pulverize the toasted peanuts with about 60 g sugar until you get a finely ground texture, though, slightly larger bits here and there are inevitable. The cookies will turn out fine anyway.
- Combine the ground peanuts with the remaining sugar and (A), then mix in the peanut butter until it is well dispersed in the mixture.
- Mix in enough oil to the peanut-and-flour mixture, working it ever so slightly until you’ve gotten a dough that doesn’t fall apart and doesn’t stick to your hands badly. No fixed and fast rules here. Dough too wet and sticky? Mix in additional flour! Dough too dry and crumbly? Mix in more oil!
- Divide the dough into walnut-sized portions — or slightly smaller, if that’s what you prefer. Roll each into a ball and place on parchment-lined baking sheet(s). Gently press a peanut half slightly in the center of each of them.
- Lightly beat together (B) and apply this slightly salted egg wash on the shaped dough.
- Bake at 180°C, for 20 ~ 25 minutes, until the cookies look golden brown and slightly crackled. Don’t fret! The cookies will “shrink” up a wee bit as they cool.
- Remove from the oven and let the cookies sit on the baking sheet(s) for 5 minutes or so to set their underside. Then, carefully transfer the cookies to the cooling racks and let cool completely before storing airtight. These peanut cookies in fact taste better as they age.