Monday, September 19, 2011
When I was a kid, we went out to eat only once a year, to a Chinese restaurant near my father's printing shop in downtown Philadelphia. We thought that wonton soup, sweet and sour pork, and cashew chicken were rare and exotic, and we loved to watch the wontons being made in one of the booths of the restaurant near the kitchen - the workers' fingers flew so fast we couldn't believe it. After dinner we were allowed to have almond cookies from the glass case by the cash register. These cookies were dark, crunchy, sweet and full of almond flavor, with a blanched almond pressed into the center.
This is adapted from a recipe in Family Fun magazine, and they remind me of those cookies from my childhood.
CHINESE ALMOND COOKIES
1 stick of butter
1/3 cup vegetable oil plus 1 T.
1 cup sugar (or 1/2 c. ea. white and brown sugar)
2 tsp. almond extract (this sounds like a lot but that's what it takes)
2 & 1/2 cups flour
(I have made these with gluten free flour, oat & rice, with ok results)
1/2 tsp salt
1 & 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 egg yolk
2 tsp. water
approx. 1 cup blanched almonds, whole or half*
Using a mixer or food processor, mix the butter and sugar; then add the oil.
Add the egg and almond extract and mix until blended.
Add the flour and baking soda a little at a time, until dough forms, don't over mix.
Preheat the oven to 350°.
Using a round Tablespoon measure, or a scoop, make cookies by pressing dough into the spoon (or form a 1.5" ball with your hands).
Lay the cookies 2" apart on an ungreased or a parchment covered cookie sheet.
Put a few almonds on each cookie ball and press them in with the bottom of a glass. The cookie should now be about 1/3" thick.
Brush the cookies with 1 egg yolk mixed with 2 tsp. water. If desired, you could also sprinkle the cookies with sugar.
Bake for 12 minutes.
Cool on a rack.
*I used little "almond seeds" (sometimes also called "South" or "North" almonds) I found at an Asian market. They are tiny, with a wonderful strong almond flavor and a crunchy texture. I toasted them first on a sheet pan in the oven.
- note - heh heh, I discovered on Cook's Thesaurus on the internets that these "Chinese Almonds" are called "hang yen" and "aren't really almonds at all, but apricot kernels", and "mildly toxic if eaten raw, so they should always be roasted or blanched before using." http://www.foodsubs.com/Nuts.html