Buttery Cashew Nut Cookies (腰果饼)

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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!

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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!

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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.

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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.

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This recipe has been moved to our gorgeous new website at milkanddust.com!

Click here to view the full recipe for these delicious Buttery Cashew Nut Cookies.

Honey & Cardamom Butter Cookies

Honey & Cardamom Butter Cookies

“Winter is the time for comfort, for good food and warmth, for the touch of a friendly hand and for a talk beside the fire: it is the time for home.” Edith Sitwell

I don’t know about you, but the chilly weather of late has urged me to bake a batch of simple, unsophisticated cookies. Something sweet and classic, but at the same time not too familiar to the tastebuds. So I settled for comfortable textures and distinct flavours. I decided on these melt-in-your-mouth, crisp and crumbly, oh-so-buttery cookies flavoured with a quiet but beautiful marriage of manuka honey and spice.

Unbaked Butter Cookies Baked Butter Cookies

With a texture reminiscent of dainty shortbread and Danish butter cookies, I think these are the perfect cookies to celebrate a momentous occasion, such as the both of us finally completing our university degrees. That’s right, James and I have graduated! Well, my ceremony is not until July, but James had his a week ago. And while I won’t actually be attending my own ceremony (we’ll be out of the country, travelling for a month), I will be there in spirit.

Honey & Cardamom Butter Cookies Honey & Cardamom Butter Cookies

The use of honey always leaves a subtle haunting flavour in baked goods. Combine this with smoky, aromatic cardamom and you get a dreamy blend that’s entirely perfect for homemade cookies. The butter in this recipe might be a little daunting to some, but you can’t have that rich, dense, crumbly cookie without some pure, unadulterated butter. If it’s any consolation, at least you don’t have to go hunting for eggs to get these babies to work.

Honey & Cardamom Butter Cookies Honey & Cardamom Butter Cookies Honey & Cardamom Butter Cookies

Winter doesn’t seem so bad when you’ve got a stash of spiced butter cookies, freshly baked, waiting to be nibbled on in front of the heater. I suppose a small mug of hot cocoa wouldn’t hurt, either.

Honey & Cardamom Butter Cookies Honey & Cardamom Butter Cookies

Honey & Cardamom Butter Cookies
adapted from Commonsense Baking | yield: about 36 cookies.

Ingredients:

2 cups self-raising flour
3/4 cup almond meal
2 teaspoons ground cardamom
a pinch of sea salt
200 grams unsalted butter, cubed
3 tablespoons honey*
1/2 cup raw caster sugar

* I used Capilano’s Bee Vital Active 5+ Manuka Honey. Not the good good stuff, but still tasty.

Preparation:

Preheat oven to 170°C and line baking tray with non-stick baking paper.

In a large bowl, combine flour, almond meal, cardamom and sea salt. Mix well, set aside. In a small saucepan, melt the butter, honey and sugar over medium-low heat, stirring until the sugar dissolves and the mixture is smooth.

Cubed Butter Melting Honey, Butter and Sugar

Make a well in the centre of the dry ingredients and pour in the butter mixture. Gently mix until just combined.

Butter Cookie Dough

Using clean hands, roll tablespoonfuls of the dough into balls and place on prepared baking tray. If the dough is too sticky, slightly wet hands with water before handling dough. Dough may become dry and crumbly over time, making it hard to roll, so trust me when I say wet hands will help get the job done quicker.

Flatten the balls slightly with a fork or the underside of a glass.

Unbaked Butter Cookies

Bake for 16-18 minutes, or until lightly golden. Remove from oven and let stand on trays for 5 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.

Baked Honey and Cardamom Butter Cookies Baked Honey and Cardamom Butter Cookies

Sugar-Coated Hazelnut Buckwheat Butter Cookies

A lot of people have been coming to this blog looking for a cookie recipe involving hazelnut meal. While I do ocassionally enjoy baking with the beautifully scented nut flour, I have a habit of only doing so when I’m looking to make something low carb or gluten free. For those not familiar with the lovely ingredient, a quarter cup serving of hazelnut meal has just 5 grams of carbohydrates while a quarter cup serving of plain white flour gives you a whopping 24 grams. However, the task of figuring out a recipe that actually works when you incorporate the sandy, nutty ingredient can be a challenge.

I paired buckwheat flour with the hazelnut meal to make this an entirely gluten free cookie. The strong, nutty taste of buckwheat complements the hazelnut meal quite grandly. This is really the easiest recipe in the world if you know how to work with cold butter. That’s the only part where you may have to sweat a little. But by the end of the whole process, you’ll get some wonderful, crunchy, flaky, crumbly, buttery delights for your efforts. Trust me, it’ll all be worth it.

Sugar-Coated Hazelnut Buckwheat Butter Cookies | Eggless & Gluten-Free

Ingredients:

1/2 cup hazelnut meal
3/4 cup buckwheat flour
1/4 cup dark brown sugar, packed
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup cold unsalted butter, cubed
1/4 cup granulated sugar, for coating

Preparation:

  1. Combine hazelnut meal, buckwheat flour, sugar and salt. Mix well.
  2. Cut the butter into the flour mixture, or use your fingers to rub the butter into the mixture, until the dough comes together.
  3. Roll the dough into a rough ball, cover the bowl with cling wrap and place in the fridge to chill for at least 30 minutes.
  4. Prepare the coating mixture by placing the granulated sugar in a small, shallow bowl.
  5. Just before removing chilled dough from the fridge, preheat oven to 175°C and line baking tray with non-stick baking paper.
  6. Roll chilled dough into 3/4 inch balls.
  7. One at a time, place each ball in the sugar and gently press dough down with the palm of your hand to desired thickness. Turn over and coat the other side of the cookie.
  8. Place cookies onto prepared baking tray and bake for about 15 minutes, or until egdes start to brown a little.
  9. Remove from oven, let stand for 5 minutes before carefully (cookies will be crumbly when hot!) transfering cookies to a wire rack to cool completely.

Speckled Mango Tea Mochi Shortbread Cookies

I had the perfect opportunity to bake in James’ kitchen a couple of days ago. The lighting in his kitchen is excellent, thanks to the abundance of glass windows everywhere. All the natural light allowed for easier camera work, which is something I definitely welcome when taking still photographs of food.

The downside is that I don’t know his kitchen as well as mine, so of course, I had to patiently look through cupboards and drawers to find certain ingredients and utensils. And believe me when I say that his kitchen has way too many cupboards and drawers. That aside, one thing I really like is that the kitchen houses dozens and dozens of interesting cookbooks.

Anyway, I’m here to talk about these lovely little slice-and-bake mango tea cookies. Three parts plain flour, one part glutinous rice flour. This is a simple recipe for a crumbly, buttery shortbread cookie lightly flavoured with mango tea leaves. Don’t you just love it when a rich, buttery cookie just melts in your mouth? These cute little speckled cookies do just that.

They have a smooth, gorgeous texture that isn’t too hard or dry, like a lot of store-bought shortbread. The glutinous rice flour gives them a milky, soft, tender crunch. It makes the cookies almost fluffy, but still gives them a substantial amount of body that shortbread cookies call for.

The best thing about this recipe is that you can use whatever tea leaves you want. You don’t have to go with mango tea. Be daring. Pick healthy green tea, or calming chamomile, or light and aromatic Earl Grey! It’s really up to you.

Speckled Mango Tea Mochi Shortbread Cookies

Ingredients:

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup glutinous/sweet rice flour (mochiko)
2 tablespoons mango tea leaves*
A pinch of salt
2/3 cup unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup confectioner’s sugar
2 egg yolks, lightly beaten

* I used Legend Tea’s Australian Premium Mango Tea. You can use any kind of flavoured tea you want, really. As long as the leaves are fairly fine. You could very easily grind them in a small food processor or crush them with a mortar and pestle to get a desirable size.

Preparation:

  1. In a medium sized bowl, combine the flours, tea leaves and salt with a whisk or fork.
  2. In a large bowl, cream the butter and sugar for a few minutes until light and fluffy.
  3. Add the egg yolks to the creamed mixture and mix well.
  4. Gradually add the dry ingredients to the creamed mixture in 3 or 4 increments, mixing well after each addition. You will eventually get a soft dough.
  5. Shape the dough into 2 logs and wrap them in plastic wrap. Chill for 1 hour.
  6. Preheat oven to 150°C and line baking tray with baking paper.
  7. Remove logs from fridge and, with a sharp knife, cleanly slice thin rounds (slightly less than half an inch thick) and lay them on the baking tray. They hold their shape well, so it isn’t necessary to space them too far apart.
  8. Bake cookies for approximately 20 minutes, or until the edges start to brown a little.
  9. Remove from oven and carefully transfer cookies to a wire rack to cool.