Baking my favorite almond cookies

Almond cookies are one of my all-time favorite CNY goodies

My aunt gives me just one jar of almond cookies every Chinese New Year, and I can never bear to finish them. They’re crunchy, crumbly, sweet and salty – all the things I love in a cookie, rolled into a bite-sized ball of goodness. I’ve only been desperate enough to make them once while I was in Melbourne. All I remember from that attempt was that it took a very long time to fill up one lonely normal jar :( That’s a lot of work for very few cookies! When I found out a few days ago that my aunt won’t be baking almond cookies this year, I decided to ignore the hesitation deep down inside, and to just go for it. How bad can it be anyway :p Can’t be more tiring than baking pineapple tarts, right?!

TIP: Set aside a whole afternoon for this. This recipe makes quite a lot of cookies, which means you may spend half a day rolling and baking if you want bite-sized cookies (approx. 1/4 tsp of dough per cookie)

For the almonds

You can buy the almonds skinned (they usually come chopped or sliced), or you can skin them by blanching the almonds at home. It only took me about 15 minutes to remove the skins from 500g of almonds :) It’s the easiest part of this recipe!

Heat a pot of water until it boils, and put almonds in for 1 minute – any longer, and the almonds will get soft. Use a sieve to strain the almonds from the water, then rinse them in cold water. Roll or pat them dry with kitchen towels. Hold the fatter end of the almond in one hand, with your other hand cupped in front. Squeeze gently, and the skin should come off easily. Cupping your hand in front of the almond prevents them from shooting across the room – it really happens, I tried ;)

Put the almonds into a food processor, and chop them into a mixture of fine and small almond bits. I like to have a mix for more crunch, but it’s really up to you. Set aside, and begin preparing the dough.

All you need is some flour, almonds, and a lot of patience

For the dough

  • 1 kg plain flour
  • 500g caster sugar
  • 2tsp fine salt
  • 2 tsp baking soda
  • 6 tsp baking powder
  • 250g chopped almonds
  • 740ml oil (any brand will do, as long as it is tasteless and odorless)

For the glaze

  • 1 egg yolk, diluted with a bit of water

Heat oven to 160°C (320 F). Sift the flour, sugar, salt, baking soda, baking powder together. Mix in the almonds, then slowly add in the oil, until the mixture begins to stick together and form a dough. Roll the dough into little balls – I used a 1/4 tsp to form bite-sized cookies. Line a baking tray with greaseproof paper, and place the balls of dough about 1 inch apart. Brush the tops with the glaze, and bake for 13 minutes, or until the cookies turn a pale golden brown.

TIP: If the cookies are baked long enough, you won’t be able to smell or taste the oil used in the dough.