After cooking for around a week, my guests have just left my Lunar New Year Open House. It was the perfect opportunity for me to prepare some of my grandmother’s Nyonya dishes, a treat for my guests over the last few years. This year, I decided to make New Year cookies as dessert, and I started preparations a bit earlier for that. With three attempts to make the special powdery cookies, Kueh Bangkit, resulting in dissatisfaction and disappointment, I resorted to Peanut Cookies, a favorite of mine back when I was growing up in Malaysia. These are very delicate flakey bites with the rich nutty flavor in each crumb. A recent online comment by a reader reminded me of how my grandmother made these with pork lard which gave these sweet bites an added unctuousness that I still recall with great nostalgia.
With success under my belt, here is the simple and tasty recipe, adapted from the Rasa Malaysia website (see page).
Makes around 50 cookies.
4 cups/950 ml (540 gm) roasted whole peanuts (or oven roast peeled raw peanuts at 300 F (150C) until fragrant and lightly brown), plus extra pieces for decoration
1 cup/240 ml confectionary or icing sugar
1 cup/240 ml peanut oil or lard
2 cups/475 ml all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons shortening or cold butter (only if using peanut oil, not pork lard)
1 egg yolk, beaten slightly with 1 tsp water for egg wash
Chop peanuts in food chopper until very fine and loose and when the mixture starts to become slightly sticky – do not over-chop them.
Mix the ground peanut, sugar, and flour together until well combined. Cut the shortening into mixture until fine bits. Slowly add the peanut oil and mix well, until the mixture begins to come together – stop adding the oil at this point.
Shape into small balls and place on baking tray lined with parchment paper – do not flatten. Use a toothpaste cap to make the circular indentation by pressing and rotating the cap to lightly flatten the cookie. Or you can press down a peanut half into the middle of the dough.
Brush the sides below the indentation or around the peanut with the egg wash.
Bake at 350 degrees F (180 degrees C) on middle rack for 20 minutes or until brown – check and watch out for burning after 15 minutes and rotate baking tray position if needed be. Check around the bottom of cookie for burning and remove if you smell burning. Remove from oven, take the parchment paper with the cookies off pan, and let cool. When cool, store in airtight container.
The Baba Nyonya Peranakans hard copy is available at USD 39. Delivery is included in the price for the USA, UK, most of W. Europe, Malaysia, Singapore, and Melbourne, AUS. Addition postage for other regions.
It documents the History of the Baba Nyonya Peranakans and details the important Cultural Traditions and Daily Practices, as I share my family stories growing up in such household. Each chapter showcases a Nyonya recipe (Poh Piah, Chap Chai, Tauhu Sumpat, Sambal Nenas Timun, Kobis Masak Lemak Puteh, Pongteh, Ayam Temprah, Asam Fish, Ikan Sambal, Udang Lemak Masak Nenas, Top Hats, Buah Keluak, Achar Chili, Itek Tim, Laksa, Mee Siam, Sri Kaya, Kueh Chang Nyonya, Kueh Ee, Pineapple Tarts, Bi Tai Bak, Kueh Angku, Kueh Bakul Goreng, Bubur Pulut Hitam, Tapeh Pulut, Bubur Cha Cha, and many more!) that my Grandmothers were known for.
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