This Australian summer heat has got us dreaming of cooler months. Every other day, the news tells us of raging bush fires and soaring 40°C+ temperatures around the country. Very depressing indeed. It’s a good thing we live near the coast, so we get cooler breezes. Also, thank god for air-conditioners! Still, the risk of getting sunburnt is disgustingly high when you go outside. Slip, slop, slap that sunscreen on, you guys!
Seasonal observations aside, Chinese New Year is just over a week away! This year, it falls on the 31st of January and it’ll be the year of the horse. As a kid born in the middle of 1990, this’ll be my lucky year. Yep, I’m a horse. And if you are a horse as well, allow me to share with you what this source says about us:
“Being born a Horse, there are many contradictions in their character. Horses are proud yet sweet-natured, arrogant yet oddly modest in their approach to love, envious but tolerant, conceited yet humble. They want to belong, yet they are burdened by their need for independence. They need love and crave intimacy yet often feel cornered, pressured. But the truth is, the Horse is an individual, who depends only on their own wits and labour to get what they want.”
Well, believe what you will! I’m sure some people will see the horse in themselves, but I’m sceptical. These are pretty darn broad characteristics anyway, and you could probably argue that anyone and everyone will have exhibited these traits at one point or another in their lives!
Anyway, we have a recipe for you to celebrate the approaching Chinese New Year. Last year, we featured these amazingly fragrant peanut cookies, which were a huge hit! This year, we ground up some crunchy cashews and made some delectable cashew nut cookies (腰果饼 yāo guǒ bǐng), famously known for their crackly tops and golden glossiness from the obligatory egg wash! They are perfectly sweet and so buttery, crumbly and rich.
Like most cookies that use nut flours, these crunch delightfully and melt in your mouth soon after. We randomly decided to add some full cream milk powder to the cookies. It is one ingredient that knowledgeable bakers use to give their CNY cookies that sinfully smooth, ultra-melty texture when you bite into them. I think it worked wonderfully for us.
Buttery Cashew Nut Cookies (腰果饼)
adapted from nom nom panda’s cashew nut cookies ; yields ~50 cookies.
270g cashew nuts, roasted and salted
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup cornflour
1/4 cup full cream milk powder
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
210g unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup caster sugar
1 egg yolk + 1 egg (for egg wash)
1 teaspoon vanilla essence
- Measure about 70 grams of the best-looking cashew nuts to be used as toppings. Carefully split these down the middle lengthwise so you get perfect halves. This can be tricky, but with a small knife and some practice, it gets easier. Set these aside for later.
- Grind the remaining 200 grams of cashews in a food processor or with a mortar and pestle until they reach a sandy texture. If using a food processor, be careful not to over-grind the nuts and turn them into cashew butter!
- Sift the flour, cornflour, milk powder and baking powder into the bowl with the ground cashews. Mix to combine.
- In a separate bowl (large), cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy, then stir in the egg yolk and vanilla. Mix well.
- Stir the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients. Combine well. Eventually, you’ll want to use your hands here to do a bit of kneading to get the mixture to clump together.
- Form the dough into a large ball, cover the bowl with cling wrap and chill for about 40 minutes.
- Preheat oven to 175°C and line two baking trays with non-stick baking paper.
- Shape tablespoonfuls of the chilled dough into balls, flattening them slightly with the palms of your hands so they resemble discs. Arrange on baking trays about 3/4″ apart.
- Gently press a cashew half into the tops of each disc.
- Beat the remaining whole egg in a small bowl and lightly brush the egg wash over the unbaked cookies.
- Bake each tray separately for about 15 minutes, or until the cookies are golden brown.
- Place cookies on a wire rack to cool completely before storing in an air tight container.