I’ve discovered that peanuts lose weight. No kidding. I’ve been roasting and peeling kilos of peanuts for this recipe and this is my unintended learning outcome. Seriously, somehow in the process of them getting hot in the oven and unzipping their jackets, followed by a gentle coax to peel it off them a bit later, they are lighter than when I first had them.
I know. When I describe it thus, it’s SO obvious. Of course, those papery skins weigh something. But who would have thought that peanut skins weigh so much! 300g of raw shelled peanuts = 254g skinned and roasted peanuts.
Given the plentitude of peanuts in Cambodia, and that I fell in love with these small morsels of rich, peanutty, salty, sweetness the moment I bit into my first one, I’ve been testing one chinese peanut cookie recipe after another, ever since I arrived here. That was 5 months ago. In fact, I’ve begun to wonder whether my friends are sick of me testing it out on them, but too polite to tell me. ‘Try this cookie and this one. Can you tell me if you can taste the difference between them?’ But, truth be told, every recipe I tried was either a tad too sweet or just didn’t recreate that cookie-crumbling-then-melting-in-your-mouth sensation.
So, I experimented with sugars and flours and ended up with this recipe. I replaced the icing sugar with caster sugar to remove the rather cloying sweetness of the cookie and introduced cornflour to the mix. (I use cornflour in my shortbread recipe to create a crumbly texture.) Then I discovered that if you don’t eat the cookies for at least 2 days, the cookies soften and thus melt in your mouth regardless of whether you added cornflour to it. Unfortunately, they don’t tend to hang around long enough for that to happen.
They’re coming with me to my friend Amy’s last-of-the-15-days-of-Chinese-New-Year party on Friday. At first, I thought that this was a solely Chinese celebration, until I asked my mum. Nope, apparently in Korea they also have a special meal to mark the 15th day, the day of the full moon.
In Amy’s invite she asked:
‘The festive food Chinese people eat during this time all have symbolic meaning… so please bring a dish (fish / chicken / peanuts / cake / oranges / noodles / pineapple).”
Well, I googled ‘peanut chinese meaning’ and found this interesting site Food Symbolism during Chinese New Year. Peanuts symbolise health, long life, multiplication in wealth and good fortune etc etc. So, it’s clear. This Friday will be an auspicious occasion to debut my version of Chinese Peanut Cookies.
I’ve adapted this Peanut Cookie recipe from Kitchen Tigress.
Ingredients for 40 cookies
- 200g peanuts, roasted and peeled & a handful (50g or so) to decorate the cookies
- 150g plain flour
- 50g cornflour
- 150g caster sugar
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 130ml groundnut oil (also known as peanut oil in some countries). If you don’t have this then vegetable or sunflower oil also works
- 1 egg, beaten
1. Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F/Gas Mark 4. Line 2 baking trays with baking paper.
2. Roast and skin the peanuts. If you already have roasted peanuts, rinse off any salt on them and dry them.
3. Grind the peanuts into a fine-ish powder in a food processor*. They’ll clump together towards the end as the oil is released. Don’t worry about it. When you’re done just break up the clumps with your fingers and when you add in the sugar. *Initially, I didn’t have a food processor (now I use my Bamix) so I pounded them into a powder with a pestle and mortar.
4. In a separate measure out the cornflour, flour and salt. Sieve it before adding it to the peanut and sugar mix to ensure a lighter texture.
5. Pour in the oil and mix together with your hands until it comes together away from the edges of the bowl.
6. Take a tablespoonful of the mixture, roll it into a ball and flatten it lightly on the baking tray. If it helps, each ball weighed between 15-20g when I weighed mine out. Carefully position a peanut half on the top of the peanut balls and brush the tops generously with beaten egg. The beaten egg gives them a beautiful shine and colour.
7. Bake in the oven for 12-15 minutes until golden brown.
8. Allow them to cool for 2 minutes on the baking tray and then transfer them to a cooling rack to cool completely.
It is seriously tempting to eat these while they are still hot, so watch that you don’t burn your mouth when you do. Enjoy and Happy Chinese/Korean New Year!