Chinese Almond Cookies 杏仁餅乾
By Ellen L. Published: 2015-06-24
I remember one of our family's special treats growing up was when 媽媽 and 爸爸 would come back from a long freeway drive to Phoenix Bakery in Chinatown with a pink box packed to the brim with deliciously fragrant crumbly yet crunchy chinese almond cookies, each with a toasty almond in the middle. These golden delights were eagerly snatched up by us three girls, each having our own style of devouring these almond scented treats. My special method was to nibble away all around until only the almond was left on its own island of cookie. Yummilicious! Recently my little girl's school asked us parents to prepare snacks to bring to school for the rest of the school year (up to mid July) and so lately I've been in serious cookie/cake mode. I recalled how delicious almond cookies were and so decided to try to make some since these cookies are hard to find in Hong Kong. To our family's delight these homemade Chinese Almond Cookies, or 杏仁餅乾, turned out tasting pretty darned close the real thing, just fresher and maybe even a tad more delicious than we remembered!
You must, of course, first get yourself a big bagful of fresh almonds. I found the cheapest deal for us was at the local Hong Kong wet market where we have a vendor that sells all kinds of nuts. I would also check at any farmer's markets for deals. Anyways I bought a small bag and the almonds were so good on their own that we ate them all up in a late night munchies fit that very night and the very next day I had to go back and get a big bagful. Yum...almonds are so good! You will also need almond extract (not almond flavoring, mind you, that is fake extract) with is something I find myself using more and more, in cakes, cookies, etc, in place of or along with vanilla extract.
|Lard and Butter being cut into the flour mix|
The only other special ingredient that this recipe calls for is lard 豬油. That's right, good old lard. Which we use sparingly in our house for times when we want the extra delicious flavor and crumble that lard so sensuously provides. For these Chinese Almond Cookies I used half lard and half butter, but if you can't find lard or want to skip it just use all butter. I would not recommend to use vegetable shortening as an alternative for lard, as vegetable shortening is manufactured through a chemical process that could not possibly be good for you and your loved ones. If you're hesitating, try lard and butter combo at least once, you won't believe the texture and the flavor!
|Egg yolk wash brushed over cookies|
My 老公 was so blown away by these Chinese Almond Cookies that he immediately ate half of them despite my protests that they were for our little girl's school snacks. Then he suggested that we could sell them (where?!) at which I rolled my eyes. To whom could we sell these cookies that I could only bake 12 at a time in my tiny oven in my even tinier kitchen? But it was a sweet thought!
These Chinese Almond Cookies were easy to make and super tasty. Using the lard in the mix made the cookies tender on the inside while just right crunchy on the outside. Egg wash over the tops of the cookies made them gleam just like the ones from Phoenix Bakery long ago. The almond was so super crunchy and yummy from being baked. If you've had these almond cookies before and liked them, you've got to try out this recipe! Super easy to make and really truly yummilicious!
Chinese Almond Cookies Recipes 杏仁餅乾
(makes 27-30 cookies, adapted from the recipe here)
2 3/4 cups all purpose flour, 343g
3/4 cups sugar (white or caster), 170g
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup lard, 102g
1/2 cup butter, 113 g
3 tsp almond extract
1 egg yolk
1 tsp water
Preheat oven to 325 F or 165 C.
Sift flour, sugar, baking soda and salt into large mixing bowl. Cut in lard and butter with a knife until lumps are small enough to use your mixer at slow speed until mixture resembles cornmeal. Add in egg and extract and mix thoroughly. Gently form into 1" balls (don't over squeeze the dough, just enough to make it into a ball) and place onto your cookie tray at 2" intervals. Use the bottom of a glass to press the balls down to 1/2" height. Press one almond into the center of each cookie. Gently beat your egg yolk with 1 tsp of water and then use pastry brush to generously brush the tops of cookies, including the almond. Bake for 18-20 mins or until the bottom edges of cookies turn golden brown. Cool cookies completely on cookie rack before storing away in your cookie jar (if you can keep them around that long!)
More Delightful Desserts at The Hong Kong Cookery:
Green Mung Bean Popsicle 綠豆雪條
White Rabbit Creamy Candy 大白兔奶糖