February 20, 2019

Sweet Cow Ear Cookies 甜牛耳朵餅

Sweet Cow Ear Cookies 甜牛耳朵餅

Sweet Cow Ear Cookies, chinese new year, festival, chinese, recipes, cookies, treats,  甜牛耳朵餅, red fermented bean curd, traditional, 南乳, 牛耳朵, 猪耳朵, 紅腐乳, 象耳朵
By Published: 2019-02-20
As promised, here is my sweet version of that festive Chinese New Year treat, the Cow Ear Cookie. In our last post we discussed the recipe for the traditional Chinese Cow Ear Cookie 牛耳朵餅,  a savory cookie flavored with the exotic flavors of the Chinese red fermented bean curd.  I found the flavors of the red fermented bean curd in a cookie so intriguing that I decided to try to make a sweet version of the same.  Here is the result, my version of a Sweet Cow Ear Cookie 甜牛耳朵餅, a buttery sweet pinwheel cookie swirled through with the distinct umami flavors of the Chinese red fermented bean curd.  Psst...tell you a secret...I think we like these sweet cookies even better than the traditional savory ones!!

Sweet Cow Ear Cookies, chinese new year, festival, chinese, recipes, cookies, treats,  甜牛耳朵餅, red fermented bean curd, traditional, 南乳, 牛耳朵, 猪耳朵, 紅腐乳, 象耳朵

To be sure, I wasn't totally sure it would work at first.  The red fermented bean curd is, after all, usually used to flavor savory meat dishes.  But I forged ahead, starting with a basic cookie batter for a sweet buttery cookie.  If you wanted a more traditional Chinese cookie flavor you could substitute half of the butter with leaf lard.  (Lard has less obvious flavor than butter and provides a lighter texture to cookies.)

Sweet Cow Ear Cookies, chinese new year, festival, chinese, recipes, cookies, treats,  甜牛耳朵餅, red fermented bean curd, traditional, 南乳, 牛耳朵, 猪耳朵, 紅腐乳, 象耳朵

Here is the Chinese red fermented bean curd 紅腐乳, also known as Nam Yue 南乳.  To make this interesting food, bean curd is fermented with red yeast rice until a crust of deep rich red forms around a bean curd turned soft and paste like, slightly salty, slightly sweet with a deep rich unique umami taste.  Shop for this in Asian grocery shops in the sauce sections or buy is super fresh like we did from the Hong Kong wet market vendors.

Sweet Cow Ear Cookies, chinese new year, festival, chinese, recipes, cookies, treats,  甜牛耳朵餅, red fermented bean curd, traditional, 南乳, 牛耳朵, 猪耳朵, 紅腐乳, 象耳朵
Sweet Cow Ear Cookies, chinese new year, festival, chinese, recipes, cookies, treats,  甜牛耳朵餅, red fermented bean curd, traditional, 南乳, 牛耳朵, 猪耳朵, 紅腐乳, 象耳朵

The basic butter dough is divided and one part is mixed the red fermented bean curd, turning the cookie dough a lovely pinkish orange.  I added a drop or two of red food coloring to see if I could enhance the colors and ended up with a most beautiful pink dough which my little girl was ecstatic about.

Sweet Cow Ear Cookies, chinese new year, festival, chinese, recipes, cookies, treats,  甜牛耳朵餅, red fermented bean curd, traditional, 南乳, 牛耳朵, 猪耳朵, 紅腐乳, 象耳朵
Sweet Cow Ear Cookies, chinese new year, festival, chinese, recipes, cookies, treats,  甜牛耳朵餅, red fermented bean curd, traditional, 南乳, 牛耳朵, 猪耳朵, 紅腐乳, 象耳朵

I rolled the two doughs separately out on parchment paper as they were a bit sticky and it is easier to remove from paper.  If you want more swirls in your pinwheel you should roll the dough thinner.  The colored dough is placed over the basic dough and rolled up.  Be sure to roll tightly so as to form the pinwheel properly.  I like to use the parchment paper as I roll to help press and tuck the roll tight.

Sweet Cow Ear Cookies, chinese new year, festival, chinese, recipes, cookies, treats,  甜牛耳朵餅, red fermented bean curd, traditional, 南乳, 牛耳朵, 猪耳朵, 紅腐乳, 象耳朵

The dough roll then needs to freeze over night before slicing.  For the first batch I made I used a baguette pan to hold the dough's rounded shape while it chilled and the baked cookies came out lovely and round as you can see from the first and last images on this post of the finished cookies.  

Sweet Cow Ear Cookies, chinese new year, festival, chinese, recipes, cookies, treats,  甜牛耳朵餅, red fermented bean curd, traditional, 南乳, 牛耳朵, 猪耳朵, 紅腐乳, 象耳朵

For the second batch I forgot to use the baguette pan and as you can see in the two images just above, the cookies came out of the freezer with a flat bottom.  Oopsy rats...I'm so forgetful sometimes.   Oh, alright...most of the time.



These sweet Cow Ear Cookies are baked, not deep fried like the traditional savory ones.  I think that's another reason I like this sweet version.  I don't like fried cookies that much except if they're fresh  fried and one can't eat all the cookies all at once, amiright?  The other reason is the taste.  The sugar in this dough actually brings out the flavor of the red fermented bean curd even more, creating a really unique savory sweet flavor that reminds me of soy braised meats like Red Cooked Pork 紅燒肉 where the salty beany flavors of soy sauce are mellowed and heightened by caramel notes of rock sugar.  It's weirdly delicious, I guess.  And highly addictive once you've eaten one.  My little girl, somewhat to my surprise, has been sneaking these cookies like crazy.  (Thus the second batch!)  

Try it out and let us know which one you prefer: these Sweet Cow Ear Cookies 甜牛耳朵餅 or the traditional savory Cow Ear Cookies 牛耳朵餅!  And wish to all our dear readers a Luminous Lantern Festival 上元節!

Sweet Cow Ear Cookies, chinese new year, festival, chinese, recipes, cookies, treats,  甜牛耳朵餅, red fermented bean curd, traditional, 南乳, 牛耳朵, 猪耳朵, 紅腐乳, 象耳朵

Sweet Cow Ear Cookies Recipe  甜牛耳朵餅 (makes approx 30 cookies)  Prep time: Cooking time:

Ingredients 

1 cup flour, 120g
1/2 cup rice flour 米粉, 75g
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp baking powder
1/2 cup butter, room temperature, 115g
1/2 cup +2 tbsp sugar, 124g
1 egg
2 tbsp red fermented bean curd 紅腐乳 (also known as 南乳), 30g
2-3 tbsp rice flour

Directions:
Stir the flour, 1/2 cup rice flour, baking powder and salt together.  In separate bowl b eat butter and sugar together until light and fluffy, about 2 mins.  Add in egg and beat until incorporated.  Add the flour mixture and mix until just combined.  

Divide dough into 1/3 and 2/3 portions.  Add the 1/3 portion of dough and red fermented bean curd into a bowl and mix until combined.  Add in 2-3 tbsp of rice flour, 1 tbsp at a time, until the dough is not sticking to the bowl.  Form into flat squares about 4" by 4", wrap in cling film and chill in refrigerator for 30 mins.

Roll out dough separately on parchment paper to 8" by 6" rectangles, about 1/8" thick.  Place the red dough on top of the regular dough.  Roll up lengthwise into a tight roll. Wrap in cling film and put in freezer overnight.

Preheat oven 350°F (176°C).  Line baking tray with parchment paper.  Slice dough roll into 1/8" slices, place on to tray leaving an inch between the cookies.  Bake 9-11 mins or until the dough becomes slightly golden at the edges.  Can be stored in air tight cookie container for up to a week.  Enjoy!




More Traditional Chinese Cookie Recipes at The Hong Kong Cookery:

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