Friday, 25 January 2013

New Year Goodies Box: Almond Cookies & Peanut Cookies
新年礼盒:杏仁酥,花生酥

Clock is ticking, there are only two weekends left before Lunar New Year. My back is aching, yet my hands couldn't stop making these lovely cookies. Looking at my beautiful new year goodies box, it has been filled with delectable Pineapple tarts, and now, with Almond cookies and Peanut cookies.

Did I tell you Almond cookies is my family's favourite? Last year, I made a few batches of Almond cookies and everyone in my family gained weight within the month. We were all addicted to this bite-sized crumbly cookies. Once eat the first piece, your hand would automatically put the 2nd one into your mouth, and the 3rd one... When I told friends about the "side effect" of almond cookies, they still want to give it a try. Hey, have you all forgotten that losing weight is your new year resolution?

Inspired by the popularity of almond cookies, I made some changes to peanut cookies. The traditional recipe call for 100% vegetable oil, which makes the cookies soft and melt-in-the mouth. However, they are brittle and just break apart in your hand. I replaced certain amount of the vegetable oil with melted butter and they become softly crumbled, perfect texture! Topped by a sprinkling of white sesame , my heart-shaped peanut cookies are not only tasteful, but also appealing in looks. Bet it will be a new hit this Lunar New Year.



ALMOND COOKIES
 
Ingredients
  • 350g plain flour
  • 2 tablespoons corn flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 4 tablespoons ground almond
  • 150g chopped almond bits
  • 100g icing sugar
  • 110g unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 cup peanut oil or corn oil

Egg wash
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1 teaspoon water

Directions
  1. Add flour, icing sugar, baking soda and baking powder into a mixing bowl. Mix with a whisk or hands until well combined.
  2. Add in the almond bits and mix well.
  3. Pour in the melted butter and mix with hands. Add peanut oil and continue mix till a dough is formed. If dough is too dry, add in peanut oil by teaspoonful.
  4. Roll the dough on a floured surface about 8mm in thickness, and cut with a cookie cutter (bite-size).
  5. Place about 2cm apart on a lined baking tray. Brush with egg wash.
  6. Bake at 180degC for 18-22 minutes or till golden brown.


 
PEANUT COOKIES

Ingredients

- 250g ground peanut powder
- 200g plain flour
- 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
- 80g icing sugar
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 80g unsalted butter, melted
- 3/4 cup peanut oil (or corn oil)

Egg wash
- 1 egg yolk
- 1 teaspoon water

Directions
  1. Mix ground peanut powder, plain flour, baking powder, icing sugar and salt in a mixing bowl. Mix with a whisk or hands continue well combined.
  2. Pour in melted butter, mix with hands. Add peanut oil to the mixture and continue mix till a dough is formed. If the dough is too dry, add peanut oil by teaspoonful.
  3. Roll the dough on a floured surface about 8mm in thickness, and cut with a cookie cutter.
  4. Place about 2cm apart on lined baking tray. Brush with egg wash and sprinkle some white sesame.
  5. Bake at 180C for 18-20 minutes or till golden brown.

Sunday, 20 January 2013

New Year Goodies Box: Pineapple Tarts (open-version)
新年礼盒:凤梨酥


We would bid farewell to the year of Dragon on Feb 9, 2013, and usher in the year of Snake thereafter. To celebrate CNY (Chinese New Year) , this month becomes the most busy month of the year. Shopping, spring cleaning, cooking and baking are taking up all my weekends. To me, new year is never complete without new year cookies.

My CNY cookies baking list is getting longer each year. I started with Pineapple tarts, then slowly added Peanut cookies, Almond cookies, Cheesy cookies, and even Kueh Makmur (a peanut-filled traditional Malay cookies). Though my favourite cookies are pineapple tarts and almond cookies, I usually bake 4 or 5 types of cookies and put in a nice goodies box during new year period. This symbolizes Four Happiness (四喜) or Five Blessings (五福) . Wondering what are Four Happiness and Five Blessings in Chinese culture? Google them...



Starting from this week, I would bake 4-5 types of new year cookies, and hopefully by end of Dragon year,  my goodies box would be filled with Four Happiness or Five Blessings !

As planned, today, I baked open-version Pineapple Tarts for the first time. Compared to closed-version pineapple tarts , open-version tarts look more adorable and pretty. As for the taste, different person may have different preference, all I could say is, they are as luscious.


PINEAPPLE TARTS (OPEN-VERSION)

INGREDIENTS

Pastry
  • 360g plain flour
  • 40g corn flour
  • 250g unsalted butter (cold)
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt (omit if you use salted butter)
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla essence
  • 80g icing sugar
  • 2 tablespoons cold water

Egg wash
  • 1 egg yolk + 1 teaspoon milk




500g store-bought pineapple filling


DIRECTIONS
  1. Add flour, salt and sugar into a mixing bowl.
  2. Remove butter from fridge, cut into small pieces and add to the bowl.
  3. Gently rub-in the butter into the flour using fingertips until mixture resembles breadcrumbs
  4. Add the egg yolks, cold water and continue to mix with hands till the pastry binds together.
  5. Wrap pastry in a sheet of plastic and chill in fridge for 10mins.
  6. Roll out the dough to about 8mm in thickness.
  7. Using pineapple tart mould to cut out the pineapple shell, and arrange onto the baking tray.
  8. Brush with the egg wash, and place the pineapple jam ball (about 1/2 teaspoon size) onto the centre of each tart shell.

     
  9. Bake at 180 degC for 18-20 minutes (take care not to over-bake, otherwise the pineapple jam may become dry)


Recipe adapted here .

Saturday, 19 January 2013

Copycat Famous Amos Cookies, CNY (Chinese New Year)
山寨版 Famous Amos 曲奇, 春节


My elder one has been pestering me for making Famous Amos cookies for some time. Whenever we pass by a Famous Amos outlet in a Shopping Mall, she would ask me to buy a pack of 200g-300g. The aroma of Famous Amos cookies is simply irresistible. “They are so crunchy and delicious! Can you make these cookies, mom?”

Sure, I can. It’s just that these cookies are too sweet and she may eat them non-stop. I quietly dropped the idea of baking Famous Amos cookies.

Yesterday, while doing spring cleaning in preparing for upcoming CNY (Chinese New Year), my daughters said they could not feel the atmosphere of CNY at all.  I told them I would bake new year cookies this weekend, and that surely would make them feel the spirit of CNY. They cheered for it and simultaneously, they suggested Famous Amos cookies!


Famous Amos as CNY cookies?  I giggled with glee. Never thought of that... but why not? We had Chinese dumplings on Christmas eve, and now Famous Amos cookies for CNY!

After googled the recipe and read some reviews, it seems to me that,  high quality grated chocolate bar and oatmeal are the key to these crunchy yet chewy Famous Amos cookies. Missing either one, Famous Amos would just be normal chocolate chip cookies. I decided to cross reference some of the recipes and, as usual, developed my own one.

My copycat Famous Amos cookies have ~95% similarity to the real one. My elder one exclaimed with excitement after her first bite into the cookies:" Mom, this is Famous Amos!" , and there gone my 1st batch.  I saw a big smile on her face, as sweet as the cookies!


COPYCAT FAMOUS AMOS CHOCOLATE CHIP COOKIES


INGREDIENTS

- 250g butter
- 1/3 cup granulated sugar
- 1/2 cup brown sugar
- 2 eggs
- 1 teaspoon vanilla essence
- 1 1/2 cup plain flour
- 1 1/2 cup grounded oatmeal
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 200g Chocolate chips
- 200g Cadbury Milk Chocolate bar, grated
- 100g chopped nuts (optional),

DIRECTIONS

  1. Preheat oven at 200degC.
  2. Cream the butter and both sugars with an electric mixer.
  3. Add eggs and vanilla essence, mix well.
  4. Fold in flour, oatmeal, salt, baking powder, and soda.
  5. Add chocolate chips, grated chocolate bar. Mix well with a spatula.
  6. Spoon dough by teaspoon (size of a lollypop), leave 2 inches apart to allow to spread.
  7. Bake at 200 degC for 12-15 minutes, or until golden brown.

Sunday, 13 January 2013

Steamed Bun with Pork & Long Beans
猪肉长豆角馅儿发面包子


Singapore is commonly known as "Food Paradise". There are wide varieties of tantalising food to satiate appetites of people from different races and cultures.  As a typical northeastern Chinese, steamed buns (包子) and dumplings (饺子) are part of our main diets.  Having stayed in Singapore for the past 15 years, if I were to rank the dumplings/steamed buns I tasted here in hawker centres , food courts and restaurants, I would say, No.1 is the soup dumplings or xiao long bao (小笼包) from Din Tai Fung.  No.2 is my homemade Chinese dumplings and steamed buns.
   

Making dumplings and steamed buns at home is a fun activity, which involves everyone in the family. Sitting around a floured kneading board, one person makes the skins, and the rest wrap the dumplings/buns. Rolling out the skins requires not only skill but also strength. The person has to roll the rolling pin in a steady speed so as to supply to 3-4 persons, who wrap the dumplings/buns. If tired, another person would take over.  Time passes very fast in such occasion, and in a blink of an eye, steaming hot dumplings/buns are served...

Long beans and minced pork are one of the common fillings in steamed buns in my family. Long beans are chosen as they can withstand steam. After 30-40 mins of steaming, the crunchy long beans become tender,  and well blended with the seasoned minced pork. The fillings are juicy and chewy, together with the soft skin, steamed buns are so scrumptious that make you keep eating!


STEAMED BUN WITH PORK & LONG BEANS

INGREDIENTS
(makes 32 steamed buns)

Dough
- 800g plain flour
- 8g dry yeast
- 2 cups of water

Fillings
- 500g long beans
- 500g minced pork meat
- 60g ginger, finely chopped
- 1 big scallion (leave out the green top, white portion finely chopped)

Seasonings:
- 3-4 tablespoons vegetable oil (boiled and cool)
- 2 teaspoons salt
- 2 tablespoons sesame oil
- 2 teaspoons 5-spices powder
- 1 tablespoon light soybean source


DIRECTIONS

Making Dough & Skins:
  1. In a large bowl, add flour and yeast.  Mix well with a wooden spoon or a whisk. Slowly add water in, and knead with hands until form a smooth ball.
  2. Cover the bowl with cling wrap and leave to proof in a warm area for 45mins.
  3. Remove the dough from the bowl . With lightly floured hands, gently give a few light kneading to press out the gas. Divide dough into 3 portions. Leave to proof for 10 mins.
  4. Roll each dough into a long roll and cut into small cylinder pieces, about 40g each. Flatten each piece and roll out to a circle (2-3mm in thickness) with a rolling pin.
Making Fillings:
  1. Prepare a medium wok. Add few cups of water and a teaspoon of salt and bring to boil .
  2. Add the long beans into the boiling water, lightly stir for 3 minutes. Drain, and cool aside.
  3. Cut the long beans into small pieces, lightly squeeze out the excess water with hands. Put aside.

  4. Sprinkle the seasonings one by one onto the minced meat. Mix well with a pair of chopsticks. Let seasoned for 30 minutes.
  5. Put chopped long beans onto the seasoned minced meat, mix them together until just combined.
Wrapping Buns:
  1. Take one skin, put on your left palm, add 40g fillings in the centre of the skin. Gather a small fold of the skin, pinch the fold onto its neighbouring skin, and turn the bun sightly. Keep folding and pinching while turning,  until the bun is sealed.


  2. Put the buns on a floured surface. Leave to proof for 20 minutes (unlike bread, the size of the bun won't double).

Steaming Buns
  1. Add a few cups of water in a medium wok with stainless steel steam-plate(s). Cover the steam-plate with clean damp cloth.
  2. Transfer buns onto the steam plate and leave 1-2 inches apart. Cover wok with lid.
  3. Over high heat, bring water to boil. Reduce to medium heat, continue heating for about 15 minutes.
  4. Heat off. Leave for 3 minutes or until steam subsides before remove the lid. This is to prevent the buns shrink.
  5. Remove the buns. Continue steaming batches of buns until all are cooked.
  6. Serve warm.

Wednesday, 2 January 2013

Homemade Sweet and Savory Black Sesame Paste
自制香甜可口黑芝麻糊


Recently, noticed a few gray hair quietly grown in my head. My daughter came forward to help pull them out, I declined. I believe in the myth about pulling gray hair causing more gray to grow. Maybe it's time to take in more black sesame...

As you might know, black sesame is very nutritious food full of vitamins and minerals. It has the ability to regrow our nature color hair and prevent gray hair. 

Thought of buying instant black sesame paste and bring to office as a dessert during coffee break. It's healthy and delectable, isn't it wonderful?  However, most of the instant black sesame paste sold in the market disappointed me with too much sugar and flour added. In the end, I gave up on all instant black sesame paste and became a patroniser of one of the dessert chain outlet Mei Heong Yuen Dessert (味香園).

Not long ago, I saw this black sesame paste recipe online. It's a very simple recipe, written in Chinese. I followed this recipe and prepared a bowl of my own black sesame paste instantly. The moment this warm, smooth and aromatic black sesame paste slid down my throat , I knew I could say goodbye to Mei Heong Yuen Dessert (味香園) .

Share with you this easy recipe here, and hope you enjoy such a little pleasure of life as much as I do.


BLACK SESAME PASTE


INGREDIENTS

- 250g black sesame seeds
- 250g rice flour



DIRECTIONS:

  1. Heat a saucepan over medium heat, add in black sesame seeds and stir constantly. When you hear the crackling sound with smoke comes out, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat, and let cool.
  2. On the same pan, put in the rice flour and stir constantly. As the colour turns from snow white to golden brown, about 10 minutes. Remove from heat, and let cool.
  3. Put roasted sesame seeds in a food processor. Process on medium speed about 10 seconds, stop the machine and scrap down the paste.
  4. Mix the grounded black sesame with the rice flour until well blended. Black sesame paste is ready.


  5. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator. It should last a couple of months.
To serve,  mix 3 tablespoons of blacksesame paste and one tablespoon of sugar in a bowl. Pour 100ml boiled water into the mixture. Stir gently until it reaches a smooth consistency. Serve warm.

Note:
  1. The amount of sugar and water can be adjusted to your liking.
  2. You can also make Walnut Paste, Peanut Paste and Almond Paste with the same method.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...