Chinese New Year (CNY) is the biggest event in a Chinese calendar. The celebration takes 15 days where we gather with family and friends – paying our respect to the elders, feasting and playing card games, mahjong. According to tradition, a red packet (angpow) is also given to non-married people during this 15 days of celebration. I love CNY because it’s always full of life, colours and emotions.
In 3 weeks time, the Chinese will bid farewell to Horse 马 year and welcome another year of prosperity and good health with the Goat 羊 year. The Chinese believes that the Goat depicts a symbol of peace, auspicious and good luck. If you are new to the Chinese zodiac, allow me to enlighten you more …
The Chinese zodiac is a repeating 12 year cycle with each year symbolising an animal and its characters. The 12 lucky animals that made it to this recognition are rat, ox, tiger, rabbit, dragon, snake, horse, goat, monkey, rooster, dog and pig. There has also been many legends and stories on how these 12 animals are chosen. I remembered my grandparents jokingly told me that the selection were based on an ancient animal race and those that reached the finished line first will be selected.
Coz not! They are chosen because of their strong influence in ancient Chinese history towards mankind and they also symbolize good luck to the Chinese people. We also believe that people born in the year of the animal zodiac will carry some of the key attributes of the symbol.
To start the CNY mood, I’ve decided to bake one of my favourite CNY cookies – Chinese peanut cookies.
Chinese peanut cookies are little parcels of wondrous melt-in-your-mouth to-die-for cookies. Since coming to Melbourne, we haven’t really celebrated CNY like how we would in Malaysia and now that my lil’ one is older, it’s good to keep the tradition alive. I don’t usually bake cookies for CNY in Malaysia because we can just order off from our usual cookie supplier. But not so much in Melbourne – these cookies are best home-made from scratch with sweat and lots of love. Surprisingly, they are not very difficult to make and we had so much fun making them 🙂
The outcome? Look great, taste bloody good and two thumbs up!
Chinese Peanut Cookies (adapted from Nasi Lemak Lover)
Makes 100 pieces
3 cups raw peanuts, clean with paper towel
3 cups all purpose flour or plain flour
3 cups caster sugar
1/4 tsp salt
1 cup (approx) peanut cooking oil (you might not use all)
2 beaten egg yolk, for glazing
1 thimble, to make round stamp on the cookie
1. To make the peanut dough, firstly, dry roast the peanuts. Heat a wok over medium heat, then throw in all the peanuts. Continue to stir the peanuts to allow even distribution of heat and not get them burned. Once the beautiful roast peanut fragrance is released, turn the heat to low and allow the peanuts to slowly roast until they turn golden brown. Stir the peanuts from time to time to avoid burning.
2. Set the peanuts aside to cool on a large colander or tudung saji. Then start using hands and rub the peanuts – this easily removes the skin. With the leftover skin and peanuts in the colander, bring them to an open area like your backyard – start to toss, shake and blow the skin away from the colander. Having some wind on the day will help too 🙂
3. Blend the peanuts together in a food processor until fine. Set aside.
4. Take a large mixing bowl and mix in the flour, sugar, salt and finely processed peanuts. Then slowly add in the cooking oil little by little while your other hand continues to knead the mixture to form a smooth and soft dough. To test if the dough is ready for shaping, pinch a small amount and start to roll into a ball. If it doesn’t crumble, then it is good to go.
5. Preheat oven to 170 celsius (traditional). Line a flat baking tray with baking paper. To shape the dough, take about 3/4 tablespoon of dough and roll into a ball. Arrange them on the baking tray. Repeat until the tray is full. Then, take the thimble and gently press on top of the dough to form a small circle pattern. Lastly, brush the top of the cookie with egg yolk glaze. Bake in the oven on the middle rack for 20 minutes. Repeat the same until all the dough have been used.