There is a Chinese restaurant in my area where we usually hold our big family gathering with relatives. At the end of the meal we are usually served with sweet soup and two kinds of mini pastries like little cubes of osmanthus cake, red bean cake, deep fried sesame balls and warm Chinese cookies on a big plate. My favourite pastry is those Chinese cookies but a lot of times the ones made by the restaurants have custard powdered added to the cookies which is totally not the traditional way. Last week I was craving Chinese cookies so I decided to make some for myself. Old fashioned Chinese cookies are flaky, delicate and crumbly. And their secret ingredient is lard. Some people may be skeptical about lard as this is an animal fat. However, according to Country Living Magazine, pure lard contains no trans-fat. In fact, when compared with butter, lard contains less saturated fats and more monounsaturated fats, which is the “healthy fats” that is associated with a decreased risk of heart disease. When choosing lard, it is crucial to get a brand that is minimally processed and non-hydrogenated.
我們社區附近的一間粵菜館是我們常常舉辦大型家庭聚會的地方。晚飯完結時，侍應會奉上糖水和美點雙輝，圓圓的大碟子上 擺放着兩款迷你中式糕點，有時是切成小方塊的桂花糕跟笑口棗，有時會是紅豆糕跟暖暖的桃酥。EC最喜歡的是桃酥，只是酒樓做的桃酥很多時候加進了吉士粉，味道不如老式餅鋪的正宗。上星期突然心血來潮便自己在家做一趟。你知道桃酥為什麼這樣酥脆鬆香嗎？這是因為當中的一種秘密材料–豬油。 很多人對豬油存疑，認為豬油是動物油，多吃對身體不好。其實豬油並沒有想像中那麼不好，但前提是要選擇得對。根據Country Living的報道，純正豬油不含反式脂肪，其飽和脂肪含量比牛油少，而單元不飽和脂肪含量也比牛油多(不飽和脂肪就是我們口中常說有助降低心臟病風險的”好”脂肪)。購買豬油時要選擇沒加工、非合成和非氧化的純豬油。
Now back to the Chinese cookies. This recipe is adapted from Chinese Almond Cookies (Bite-sized) as well as Mini Chinese Walnut Cookies. I used lard for the fats for a more traditional flavour. You will notice from the pictures that the cookies spread and puff up a lot as I’ve used the creaming method to incorporate more air into the dough (I have also used this technique in my Espresso Shortbread Cookies). When you arrange the cookies on your cookie sheet, you will need to leave more room in between the cookies so they have room to spread and expand. If you have nut allergy or simply don’t have almond flour on hand, you could replace almond flour with all purpose flour. However, since all purpose flour is more absorbent, you will need to add an extra 5 to 10 g of egg. And the cookies would be less flaky compared to one with almond flour included.
Old-Fashioned Chinese Cookies
Makes 20 cookies
210 g all purpose flour
70 g superfine almond flour
3/4 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
140 g pure, non-hydrogenated lard (I used Tenderflake)
140 g granulated sugar (I used organic cane sugar)
1/4 tsp salt
30 g beaten egg
梳打粉 1/2 茶匙
細砂糖 140克 (EC用有機蔗糖)
In a large bowl, combine and sift together the flour, baking powder and baking soda. Set aside.
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment or with an electric mixer, beat lard on low speed until smooth. Add salt and sugar and mix briefly. Switch to medium speed and beat until mixture is fluffy. Beat in egg mixture until fully Incorporated. Scape down the sides of the bowl as needed
Add in the flour mixture and mix on low speed until large clumps form. Switch to a spatula or use your hand to gather the clumps and lightly compress them to form a soft dough while avoiding over mixing or kneading. Cover and let rest at room temperature for 30 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 325℉/160℃. Divide the dough evenly into 20 portions, about 29 g each. Roll each into a ball then arrange the dough balls onto a parchment paper lined baking sheet. Gently flatten the dough balls into thick discs with your palm. For a classic look, make an indentation in the centre with your thumb. The dough will spread in the oven so make sure to leave enough space between them.
Bake for 18 to 20 minutes until the colour is slightly golden. Switch off the oven and let the cookies stay in the oven for an extra 5 minutes with the oven door ajar. Remove from the oven and cool cookies completely on a cooling rack. For best flavour and a stable and firm texture, store cooled cookies in an airtight container and allow the cookies to rest and develop flavour overnight before consuming.
For this batch I tried flattening the dough a bit more before making an indentation in the centre.