Chinese Peanut Cookies (花生饼) Recipe
I am back on my kueh kueh making phase again. In the past few years, I used to play around with baking ANZAC biscuits, scones and tarts, with varying success rates. Goodness knows why my baking horizons has taken such an Asian slant this year. But these are the goodies I want to eat now. Not ANZAC biscuits. I like my kueh kueh. I’m very aunty now.
Just before putting in the oven
花生饼 peanut cookies is a mini delight that’s often seen during Chinese New Year. I remember seeing them stacked up in red plastic jars in the homes I visited. Strangely, I never really liked eating these cookies when I lived in Singapore. They never tasted that good to me and I’d always make a beeline for the pineapple tarts and kueh bangkit instead. That was until I delivered my pineapple tarts to Aunty Rita a few weeks ago. Her friend had brought over some peanut cookies from Singapore because she knows how much Aunty Rita loves them. Knowing how discerning Singaporeans are with food, I was quite certain that that jar of gifted peanut cookies Aunty Rita had sitting in her cupboard had to be the best peanut cookies that Singapore’s got to offer.
She tells me how she’d eat a whole layer of the cookies every day, peeling off the interleaving sheet of baking paper to reveal the next layer for the next day’s consumption. I had one peanut cookie, and was mind-blown by how good they tasted. They melted in your mouth as you push the cookie with your tongue against your hard palate, and the creamy fragrant taste of the peanuts was so unmistakeable. Aunty Rita sent me off with a little tupperware of these delightful little cookies, and I ate them slowly with relish during the week. The need to bake them crept up inexorably and by the 4th day, I asked mum if she had a recipe, and of course she did. : )
Try not to use pre-ground peanuts. In order for the flavour to be at its best, the peanuts should be freshly roasted and then ground in a chopper. That’s how you get a good peanut cookie of superior quality to most of the store-bought versions.
Freshly roasted peanuts, ground to a fine powder
Mixing all the ingredients in. I didn’t have a K-beater, so I used the rubbing-in method in the end.
You can decorate the top with anything. Like a tiny piece of red glace cherry, or a quarter fragment of peanut. For me, I just poked a tiny hole on the top with a satay stick. The cookies Aunty Rita passed me looked exactly like that. Poking a hole was less fiddly too.
I experimented with using various egg washes to glaze the outsides. In the foreground I used whole egg, in the background I used egg white. The ones in the middle rows were not glazed at all. Both of the glazed products ended up shiny, crispy and a little cracked. I decided in the end you don’t need glazing because the cookies will be softer and more melt-in-the-mouth unglazed. All the glazed cookies ended up in my workmates’ bellies. They still absolutely loved it.
Also, the baking temperature had to be lowered in order to have the cookies turn out softer like the ones Aunty Rita gave me. All these adjustments have been incorporated into the recipe posted below. Just remember I used the rubbing-in method with my hands instead of the cake mixer, they turned out well. I suspect if you use the K-beater to cream the mixture like the recipe suggests, it might be even more melt-in-the-mouth!
Finally, I’ve heard that using a type of tinned butter that’s sold at Asian grocers will make these cookies taste extra yummy and more ‘Asian”. It’s called “Golden Churn” butter in Singapore, but I’m not sure what the equivalent brand name is here. You might consider using that if you can find it. Some people have even suggested using ghee…!
Chinese Peanut Cookies (花生饼)
Adapted from mum’s recipe (Makes 200)
300 g Raw Unsalted Peanuts (without shells)
Remove skin and chop till fine in blenderSift together:
275 g Plain Cake Flour
1 tsp Baking Powder
½ tsp SaltPlace in mixing bowl and use K-beater to cream till well mixed:
(Alternatively, rub-in the butter into the flour + sugar + peanut mixture, then add egg yolk)
225 gm Butter Finely Ground Peanuts (above)
125 gm Icing Sugar
1 Egg Yolk
Sifted Flour Mixture
1. Pinch out little portions of pastry and roll into small balls, the size of marbles
2. Place on ungreased baking tray and decorate top with a small piece of cut Red Glaced Cherry, or a fragment of peanut, or by poking a hole with a toothpick.
3. Bake in pre-heated oven at 150ºC for about 20-22 mins or until they turn slightly brown
For more comforting home recipes, check out my Recipes Section.