Western New Year didn't quite give us the shiny new start a lot of us were hoping for. However for the Chinese and many other East Asian communities, the celebrations are only just beginning. Chinese, or Lunar, New Year which is 2 week period starting this year on 12th February and provides us with an opportunity to soak up so much needed positive energy and hope for better days to come.
According to the Chinese zodiac, 2021 is the year of the Metal Ox and thechinesezodiac.org claims that it is going to be lucky year and perfect for focusing on the relationships in our lives. Hopefully these guys are right on the money, but in the meantime why not celebrate by whipping up a batch of peanut cookies. These perfectly formed, melt in your mouth morsels are traditionally offered to friends and family during the festivities. Warning- they tend to disappear rather quickly from the baking sheet...
Traditionally these are made with blanched peanuts which are then pulverised but we use peanut butter here with very similar and much simpler results.
100g natural peanut butter (you can use smooth or crunchy)
180g plain flour
80g icing sugar
1 medium egg yolk
50ml vegetable oil
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp water
1. Give the peanut butter (or you can use whatever nut butter you fancy if you're feeling adventurous!) to ensure that there isn't a layer of oil sitting on top.
2. Combine the peanut butter, flour, baking powder and icing sugar in a large bowl. Feel free to add a touch of salt to the mixture if you feel it requires seasoning.
3. Stir well and GRADUALLY start adding the oil. Only add as much as is needed to form the mixture into a stiff dough. You may need more or less than 50ml- it depends on what peanut butter you start with.
4. Roll the dough into small balls. You can use a bit of flour on your hands if the dough is feeling sticky. Traditionally, these are shaped into small balls, then an indent made at the centre where a whole peanut is placed which is considered lucky but you can go for whatever shape you want!
5. Mix the egg yolk and water into an egg wash and brush the cookies with it.
6. Place on a baking tray lined with baking parchment and pop into a pre-heated oven at 180C and bake for around 15-20 minutes.
7. Leave to cool before devouring with a cup of tea.
Gung Hei Fat Choy (happy new year in Cantonese)!