Thursday, February 4, 2010

Chinese Almond cookies - celebrate the New Year

Get ready to celebrate the start of the Year of the Tiger with some crispy Chinese Almond cookies. They're delicate and perfect to nibble with cup of tea - or coffee or a glass of cold white wine.

I just made a batch of 6 dozen of these - the entire house is filled with the perfume of almonds.
Almond cookies symbolize coins and will be sure to bring you good fortune. Gung Hay Fat Choy!

Chinese Almond Cookies Recipe

makes about 6 dozen cookies

Ingredients - US measures used
1 1/3 cups of almond flour (ground almonds)
1 cup of unsalted butter, cut into cubes
Pinch of kosher salt - I use Flor de Sel (you should, too!!)
2 eggs
1 teaspoon of almond extract
1 3/4 cups of plain flour
1 cup + 2 tablespoons of sugar
1/2 teaspoon of baking soda
Slivered almonds

Equipment -
Mixer with paddle blade attachment (other mixers can be used with care or a heavy wooden spoon)
2 flat baking sheets (cookie trays)
1 pastry brush (you really, really MUST have at least one of these in your kitchen. Please buy one if needed!)
     - a small wood-handled pastry brush should cost about a dollar or two
Parchment or baking paper

Method - with comments
1 Place the almond flour, salt, and butter into an electric mixer with a paddle attachment and beat on medium speed for three minutes. The mixture will become course and chunky looking. (I just have a little crappy hand mixer, I used that on the lowest speed - careful not to burn out the motor, you could also use a large wooden sppon and a strong elbow. Scrape down the bowl often with a spatula and poke the mixer beaters clear if you are not using a high end mixer) Note that this step is fast even if done by hand.

2 Add one of the eggs, reserving the other for later, and the almond extract. Mix on low speed until just incorporated.

3 In a separate bowl, mix together the flour, sugar, and baking soda then add to the butter mixture at low speed. Mix until just combined.

4 Take the dough and flatten it into a disc and wrap in plastic wrap. Place it in the refrigerator for two hours to chill.

5 Preheat the oven to 325F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Place the other egg into a bowl and beat it.

6 Take pieces of dough and roll them into balls about 3/4 inch wide. Place them on the sheet about an inch apart and then press them down slightly with your palm to make a coin shape. There should be enough space for exactly 12 cookies on a standard baking sheet.

7 Place a slivered almond onto each cookie and lightly press it into place, then paint the surface of the cookie with some of the beaten egg using a pastry brush or your finger (this will give the cookie a lacquered appearance once it bakes).

8 Bake for 10 minutes or until the edges just begin to tan. Cool on the sheet for 2 minutes and then slide onto a wire rack. Be careful, these can start to go brown very fast at the end, you want them just golden.

Makes 5 - 6 dozen.

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