Showing posts with label almond. Show all posts
Showing posts with label almond. Show all posts

Feb 12, 2018

Chinese Almond Cookies

almond, chinese, cookies, easy, new, Recipe, simple, year,

Celebrate Chinese New Year with Chinese Almond cookies! These delightfully crisp treats have a melt-in-your-mouth texture with the sweet, creamy flavor of almonds. A true dupe for the delicious after meal cookies you're often be served at Cantonese restaurants.

Chinese New Year Parade in San Francisco's Chinatown
Chinese New Year or Spring Festival (春節) is this Friday, February 16th! Around the Lunar New Year, everything is about wishing prosperity, good fortune, good luck and long life to your loved ones and those near you. One should avoid crying children, cleaning clothes, sweeping floors, and using scissors on this auspicious day. I thought it'd be great to bake some cookies in honor of this festival so I asked a Chinese college chum of mine for her favorite New Year's recipes. One of the recipes my friend recommended was this recipe from Taste of Home.

I thought it a bit odd that an authentic tasting Chinese cookie would be found in a publication specializing in Midwestern cuisine and based in Greendale, Wisconsin. But my friend Eileen said it was "spot on" if you doubled the almond flavoring and added 15 drops of yellow food coloring. And she was correct! These almond cookies taste just like the ones in Chinese bakeries and Cantonese restaurants. The recipe is quite simple and the dough is very easy to work with. I did not have yellow food coloring so I did not use it. I used 2 teaspoons of LorAnn's Almond Baking Emulsion instead of 1 teaspoon almond extract. (If you are looking for an excellent quality halal/alcohol-free almond flavoring that doesn't fade when baking or go bitter - I highly recommend LorAnn's Almond Baking Emulsion.) Instead of topping the cookies with sliced almonds I pressed one whole almond into each cookie. If you wanted to be really posh you could use whole blanched almonds. The egg wash gives the tops of the cookies a beautiful crackled and glazed look while helping the almonds to adhere. If you wanted a crispier cookie I'd suggest using vegetable shortening rather than butter. All in all, this was a great recipe- came together simply, rolled easily, baked beautifully (even with the occasional power outage and an erratically heating toaster oven), and tastes wonderful! Off to the recipe: 

1 C butter or vegetable shortening, softened to room temperature
1 C sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp baking powder
1 egg
 1 to 2 tsp almond flavoring
3 C flour
40 almonds
For egg wash:
1 egg white
1/2 tsp water

Here's what to do:
1) In a large bowl, cream together butter, sugar, salt, and baking powder. Beat in egg and almond extract. 
2) Gradually add flour to creamed mixture. Chill dough for at least an hour or overnight. 
3) When ready to bake preheat oven to 325F/180C.  Roll into 1-inch balls. Place 2 inches apart on parchment or silicone mat lined baking sheets. Flatten to a generous 1/4 inch with the bottom of a glass covered in cling film. 
4) In a small bowl, beat egg white and water. Brush egg wash over over cookies. Place an almond on top of each cookie and press down to flatten slightly. Bake for 16-20 minutes or until edges and bottoms are lightly browned. Cool for 2 minutes before removing from pans to wire racks. Yield: about 3 dozen. 
Hope you try this recipe and love it as much as my family does!
Until then: 
"Greet the New Year and encounter happiness" 

Calmly Currying on,

Aug 3, 2016

Tips & Tools: How to Blanch Almonds

almond simple way blanching skinned raw

Blanched almonds are simply raw almonds with their skin removed. The smooth texture of blanched or skinless almonds are often called for in many Mughlai recipes as well as some fancy Indian sweets and desserts. I've never seen pre blanched almonds for sale in India or Nepal so I've learned to prepare them myself. In as little as ten minutes you can easily blanch your own almonds!

Traditionally I've seen almonds soaked for hours in water or overnight to remove their skins in India. Often this results in mushy or slimy almonds. With the simple and quick technique of blanching by immersing in hot then cold water the almonds retain their firm texture. Be sure to use only raw almonds and the freshest you can find. 

2 C raw almonds
2-3 C water (or just enough water to cover the amount of almonds you wish to blanch)

Here's what to do:
1) Bring a small pot of water to boil and remove from heat. Place raw almonds in heated water and allow to steep for 2 minutes.

2) Drain the hot water from the almonds using a sieve or colander. Rinse the almonds with cool water.

3) The almonds' skins should be loosened and will easily slide off when squeezed. Be careful if you pinch too hard the almond will go flying across the room. This is the most time consuming part of blanching almonds.
The blanched almonds are on the left and their removed velvety russet jackets are on the right.
4) Depending on what you're using the blanched almonds for you may wish to leave them to dry. I usually place them on a baking sheet for a day to dry if need be. Store in an airtight container for up to two weeks when dried.

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