Just a quick post before the buzz and fuss of Chinese New Year.
I can’t admit that I’m a huge Chinese New Year fan. There are some traditions that I love (like cooking and eating with the family) and there are some that I love less (visiting distant relatives that you see only during this festive period but don’t stay in contact for the rest of the year or the family gossip that seem to fester and spread during this period).
In light of the festivities, I shall not go on and on about my prejudices and complaints. Instead, I shall share with you the things I love about Chinese New Year.
I love gatherings over home-cooked dishes with my close family. And I couldn’t be more glad that we always eat our reunion dinner at home, never out. I always enjoyed the yearly tradition of making ngoh hiang (a deep-fried spiced pork roll in beancurd skin) with my grandma.
One of the few aspects that I love is when I get to make homemade cookies in large batches because I rarely make cookies (except for these dark chocolate sables otherwise known as korova sables that continue to steal my heart).
These cookies are quite festive because of the little dotted pockets of bright pink and deep and occasionally a bright spot of green. These gems are really addictive too (another reason to make them bite-sized). I love popping them down one after another with a hot cup of Chinese Pu-Erh tea (普洱茶). I like it also because I feel less guilty eating them compared to my favourite pineapple tarts.
The first time I made these was when I used the wrong rose petals. I tried using whole rose buds (meant for rose tea, I think) but then I managed to hunt down these Middle Eastern rose petals that are more vibrant in colour and intense in flavour and they work perfectly.
You can multiply this recipe to make it in larger quantities as you wish. If you like, you can make them as big or small as you like. I find that the small ones look prettier when stored in a bottle.
To the Chinese celebrating Chinese New Year wherever you are, here’s wishing you a prosperous year of the horse!
Recipe: Cranberry, rose and pistachio cookies
Makes 80 bite sized cookies
Slightly modified from Meringue desserts
200g unsalted butter, cubed
100g icing sugar, sifted
1.5 cups dried rose petals, loosely filled (not rose buds)
1/2 tsp rosewater
360g plain flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
2/3 cup dried cranberries, roughly chopped
40g shelled pistachios (optional), roughly chopped
+/- 1 tbsp iced cold water
1. Soak rose petals in a bowl of tap water to soften while you weight out the other ingredients.
2. Cream butter and icing sugar until lightened and smooth. Add in rosewater.
3. Drain the rose petals and add into mixing bowl.
4. Add in sifted flour, baking soda and salt in 3 additions and mix at low speed.
5. Add in cold water (you may or may not require the full tbsp) a little at a time until the dough starts to come together.
6. Mix in chopped cranberries and pistachio nuts at low speed.
7. Place dough onto cling wrap and roll into a log (mine is about 2.5cm in diameter). Place the logs into the fridge for about 1/2 hour to firm up and rest.
8. Slice the log into 3-4mm thick (depends on your preference. Bake at 165 degrees celcius for about 12 – 15 minutes or until golden brown around the edges.
*Store these cookies in a cool, dry place, preferably in an air-tight container. It can last for a month.