Asian Desserts · Cookies

Chinese Almond Cookies (Bite-sized)

This all happened last year…I finally got some time to sit down (with a cup of hot coffee) and blog about my adventure. With reference to a couple of cookbooks and online resources, as well as my previous baking experience, I was able to develop the Chinese almond cookie recipe that I truly love and enjoy. Traditional Chinese almond or walnut cookies are made with lard or vegetable shortening and rely on baker’s ammonia (ammonium carbonate) as the leavening agent. This combination makes airy and crispy cookies but my family never likes the unpleasant smell and aftertaste of ammonia. To me these cookies taste pretty bland. I’ve tried making 君之’s walnut cookies. His version contains vegetable oil and finely chopped walnut. The cookies are crunchy and have a nutty aroma. I love them but would prefer something even crunchier, like those made with lard or vegetable shortening. Then I remembered that I’ve made some buttery and crunchy almond cookies a couple of years ago. I dug up the book 餅乾圖解入門百科 and looked up that trusty recipe for 洛神酥餅. With that as my blueprint I started tweaking. I started off with replacing part of the butter with vegetable shortening to make them less buttery and boost up the crunchiness. To mimic the role of baker’s ammonia, I played around with the oven temperature by baking the cookies at a higher temperature initially then dropping it. At a higher temperature the dough will set in shape quickly. When air in the dough expands in the hot oven, it will burst out of the already formed outer crust, resulting in irregular cracks (this is exactly my strategy for making high-top muffins such as this Double Chocolate Muffins). Moreover, I continued using the reverse creaming method, which minimizes the formation of gluten effectively and produces cookies with open crumbs (read more about reverse creaming method in my Cut Out Sugar Cookies post). My recipe initially contained more ground almond, but that was not budget-friendly when you need a mass production. Being a frugal mom, I adjusted my ratios again. I experimented with different egg wash too. I found that glazing the cookies with egg yolk gave the best appearance (leftover egg whites can be used for other cookies such as almond thins, fortune cookies, French macarons and Shiroi Koibito). It took me over two months to finalize all details. Before I went for our family trip to Hong Kong last year, I baked about 30 dozens of these mini cookies over a couple of days and brought them back for my relatives and friends in Hong Kong (special thanks to my dear friend Pearl for getting me some beautiful and festive packaging boxes even before I arrived!) Time flies and the year of the Monkey is just around the corner. I just started baking these Chinese almond cookies again. I took some pictures last week when I was preparing them and I’d like to share with you my amended recipe. Do give this a try and make some for your friends and family! May your year of the Monkey be prosperous, healthy, and full of God’s blessing!

這是EC去年研究的杏仁酥配方,最近才“的起心肝“坐下來一邊呷着咖啡一邊記錄整個過程。食譜是EC透過測試不同食譜書及網上食譜,再依自己的經驗及口味調配的。傳統中式杏仁或合桃酥採用豬油或固體菜油,內含臭粉,口感十分鬆脆,可惜家人對臭粉的味道不甚欣賞,EC亦略嫌酥餅只有麵粉味。EC也試做過君之的宮廷桃酥,他使用液體菜油,麵糰加入了切碎的合桃,合桃味十分香,口感酥脆十分美味,只是EC更愛豬油或固體菜油做出的香脆質感。後來EC想起多年前製作的杏仁酥餅,於是找回了“餅乾圖解入門百科“中的洛神酥餅食譜,以此作藍圖並加以改良。首先,EC混合使用固體菜油及牛油使曲奇既鬆脆又不失牛油香。為了模仿臭粉能在短時間內迅速膨脹的功效,EC在爐溫方面出招,先用高溫令麵糰外層快速烤至成形,之後便調低爐溫,待麵糰內空氣受熱膨脹時擠破已成形的外皮做成不規則的裂紋(就好像焗muffins的原理一樣)。此外,EC繼續採用令麵糰減少起筋及保持鬆脆的reverse creaming攪拌方法(詳情可參考印模曲奇)。配方初時含較多杏仁粉,可是因為成本太貴不便大量生產,於是慳家的EC又把杏仁粉比例減少,在比較過不同刷面蛋液之後,EC認為蛋黃液的效果略勝一籌(剩下的蛋白可以做其他曲奇,如杏仁薄脆幸運曲奇法式馬卡龍白之戀人等等)。就是這樣在廚房試了兩個多月,EC才成功調整出配方,去年EC與家人回港過年前更花了幾天時間焗製了差不多三十打杏仁酥送贈香港親友(在此EC亦要鳴謝友人Pearl早在EC抵埗前已為EC訂購好精美的賀年包裝盒呢!)。轉眼間猴年已臨近,EC又要開始做“酥“(show)了!前天EC也就順手拍下製作過程照片跟大家分享,你們也一起做些杏仁酥送贈親友吧。恭祝大家猴年身體健康、萬事勝意、主愛滿溢!

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Chinese Almond Cookies (Bite-sized)
一口杏仁酥

Makes 48 mini cookies
48個份量

Ingredients

120 g all purpose flour
55 g ground almond
50 g granulated sugar (I used organic cane sugar)
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/8 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
50 g unsalted butter, cubed and softened
35 g vegetable shortening
1/3 (about 17 g) large egg, slightly beaten
1/4 tsp almond extract (optional)
48 sliced almonds

For the egg wash
1 large egg yolk, slightly beaten

Notes: The eggs I use each has a net weight of 50 – 55 g.

 

材料

中筋麵粉 120克
杏仁粉 55克
細砂糖 50克 (EC用有機原蔗糖)
泡打粉 1/2茶匙
梳打粉 1/8 茶匙
鹽 1/4茶匙
無鹽牛油(切粒及放軟) 50克
固體菜油 35克
大蛋(打散) 1/3隻(約17克)
杏仁香油(選用) 1/4茶匙
杏仁片 48片

刷面用蛋漿
大蛋蛋黃(打散) 1個

註:EC使用的大蛋每隻淨重50-55克

Directions 做法

Combine and sift all dry ingredients into a mixing bowl. Mix well.
乾性材料混合過篩放入鋼盆中拌勻。

These chunky almond bits didn’t get through my sieve but it’s okay. Just make sure there is no lumps then throw them into your mixing bowl. They provide more texture to the cookies.
較粗的杏仁粉過不了篩,只要沒有結塊便可倒回鋼盆中,大顆粒杏仁可令曲奇更有質感。

Dump in the butter and vegetable shortening. With a hand mixer or a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, mix with low speed until mixture resembles wet sand. Add egg and almond extract (if using) and continue to mix with low speed until several large clumps form. Gather clumps and use your hands to lightly press them into a dough. Dough should be soft but not sticky. Cover dough with plastic wrap and chill in the refrigerator for 30 minutes or until firm.
加入牛油及固體菜油,用電動打蛋器或座枱式攪拌器(使用攪拌槳配件)以慢速攪拌至混合物呈濕沙狀,加入蛋液及杏仁香油(如用)繼續以慢速拌至材料結成大塊,用手輕輕整合成柔軟但不黏手的麵糰,蓋上保鮮紙冷藏三十分鐘或至硬身。

Mine was a triple batch. I divided the dough into three portions and worked with one dough a time after chilling.
EC做了三倍份量所以將麵糰分成三份各自包好,冷藏後每次取出一份使用。

Preheat oven to 375ºF/190ºC. Line baking sheet with parchment paper or silicon baking mat.
焗爐預熱375ºF/190ºC,焗盆墊上牛油紙或矽膠墊備用。

Divide and shape dough into 48 balls. Place balls on the prepared baking tray about 1 inch apart then flatten each slightly (I flattened my little balls with a small medicine measuring cup) . With a pastry brush or a small paintbrush, brush the tops with a thin layer of egg wash. Top each with a sliced almond, pressing down slightly to keep it in place. When dried, brush on another thin layer of egg wash.
將麵糰平均分成48份後滾圓,排放在焗盆上(距離約一寸),略為壓扁(EC用小藥水杯),先以毛掃或小畫筆掃上一層薄蛋漿,放上一片杏仁片輕輕壓實,乾面後再掃另一層薄蛋漿。

Bake for 5 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 350ºF/180ºC and bake for another 10 minutes or until cookies are golden brown. Turn off oven and let cookies sit in the oven with oven door ajar for another 5 minutes to dry them out. Transfer cookies to a wire rack to cool completely.
入爐焗5分鐘後調低爐溫至350ºF/180ºC,多焗10分鐘或至曲奇金黃色後關火,打開焗爐門留小縫,讓曲奇在爐內靜置五分鐘烘乾水份後可轉移到鋼架完全放涼。

For walnut cookies, replace ground almond with roasted and finely chopped walnut. Garnish with whole walnut or walnut pieces. Click here for the recipe.
合桃酥做法:用炒香合桃碎代替杏仁粉,以合桃或合桃粒裝飾表面,按此進入合桃酥食譜。

References 參考食譜

餅乾圖解入門百科(作者:辜惠雪)
宮廷桃酥(Walnut cookies) by 君之

If you want to republish this recipe, please link back to this post.
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