Year of the Dragon and Chinese Almond Cookies

6:43 AM


Today marks the first day of the Chinese New Year with this year being the Year of the Dragon.  Chinese New Year is the most important Chinese holiday. It is a celebration of change - out with the old and in with the new. And hopefully with newness comes an abundance of good health, happiness and prosperity. Who couldn't use some of that?

As with many things in Chinese culture, there are some *basic* superstitions you must adhere to that will bring good luck and ward off bad luck:

  • Sweep away any bad luck from your home by cleaning your house BEFORE New Year's Day
  • Wear something new (and red) on New Year's Day to bring good luck
  • Place a pair of tangerines in each room to bring good luck
  • Do not wash your hair on New Year's Day (!)
  • Serve food with auspicious characteristics
  • Give kids gifts of money in red envelopes

We're a little lax on some of these (yes, I did shower this morning), but I am trying to start our own family tradition of a big feast to introduce my boys to some traditional Chinese dishes I grew up eating on this holiday. To celebrate the Year of the Dragon, I'll be busy in the kitchen making the following:
  • Steamed whole fish: the Chinese word for fish is Yu, which sounds like the word for abundance.
  • Chinese broccoli: broccoli symbolizes blossoming flowers
  • Dumplings: symbolizes wealth
  • Lion's Head: Lion = strength and roundness = togetherness
  • Almond Cookies: symbolize gold coins and wealth
Wishing you good fortune and happiness - or GUNG HAY FAT CHOY!


Chinese Almond Cookies
Adapted from Simply Recipes

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 1/3 cups of almond flour, lightly packed
  • 1 cup of unsalted butter, chilled and cut into cubes
  • Pinch of kosher salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon of almond extract
  • 1 3/4 cups of flour
  • 1 cup + 2 tablespoons of sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon of baking soda
  • Sliced almonds

DIRECTIONS
  1. Preheat oven to 350F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. Place the almond flour, salt, and butter into an electric stand mixer with a paddle attachment and beat on medium speed for three minutes. The mixture will become course and chunky looking.
  3. Add one of the eggs and the almond extract. Mix on low speed until just incorporated. 
  4. Sift together the flour, sugar, and baking soda then add to the butter mixture at low speed. Mix until just combined.
  5. Take the dough and flatten it into a disc and wrap in plastic wrap. Place it in the refrigerator for two hours to chill.
  6. Place other egg in bowl and whisk  
  7. Take pieces of dough and roll them into balls about a half-inch wide. Place them on the sheet about and inch apart and then press them down slightly with your palm to make a coin shape.
  8. Place a slivered almond onto each cookie and lightly press it into place, then paint the surface of the cookie with some of the beaten egg using a pastry brush.
  9. Bake for 13-15 minutes or until the edges just being to tan. Cool on the sheet on a wire rack.

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