Malaysian Monday 25: Peanut Biscuits (Cookies) and memories of fireworks past.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Happy belated V-Day, New Year’s Day or weekend, whichever one you did, hope it was lots of fun.

These peanut biccies (cookies) were another “must-have” Chinese New Year cookie when I was growing up.



But I hear you say, “Aren’t you a bit late with a new year post, seeing as it was yesterday?”  And I’ll say, “Ha, ha, guess what? Chinese New Year stretches on for 15 days, yup, it goes even longer than the 12 days of Christmas!”

Actually, we never had a big CNY celebration at home (only Mum is Chinese). Instead, my brother and I would get the requisite ang-pau (red packet) on New Year’s morning, along with some new clothes, then off we’d go to do the rounds of uncles, aunties and cousins. Mum came from a large family, so the visiting was usually stretched out over a few days. We’d bring along mandarins and lollies to exchange, and of course us kids looked forward to the little red-packets we’d collect along the way.

But I think the most fun part about the CNY celebrations, bigger even than cookies, lollies and packets of money – was fireworks! Sure, I can see now how unsafe these things were, but to a kid, this was our chance to play with fire, and not get told off for it.

There were the bright red, and extremely loud, firecrackers - which we buried and let off to produce mini dirt-explosions even Adam and Jamie would have been proud of. Then there were the “Moon-travellers”, a sort of rockety thing on a stick. You put the stick end in a bottle to hold it up, lit the fuse and watched it spiral off into space, finally exploding with a pop. Of course, we found novel ways to play with these – racing them horizontally along straight stretches of road, or aiming them into the open drains and watching with glee as the resulting “glub-glub” bubble trail ended with a sputtery explosion.

 
MC Senior plays it safe with a sparkler 


There were also tamer fireworks, the sort that spun around amidst a shower of sparks (a lotus I think), and “bees” that zoomed around when lit. I also remember “fountains” of fire and little coloured balls of flame that shot out of the end of a cardboard tube. And every once in a while, we were lucky enough to have a type of firework that exploded and sent off a little plastic soldier attached to a parachute. Little brother and I would elbow each other out of the way to claim the prize – which invariably lasted about 4 minutes, then got so tangled we’d have to cut the parachute off.

But enough about fireworks, here’s the recipe for today’s post. It’s super simple and I made it in a food processor because I was pressed for time. I’ve adapted it from Mum’s methodless recipe which went : 1 bowl flour (1/2 self raising), 1 bowl peanuts, 1 bowl sugar and 1 bowl butter.

Here’s the longer version I figured out by myself (very chuffed with own effort) ☺

 
Raw cookies - no eggs means safe to eat cookie dough he he! 


Peanut cookies
150g (abt 1 cup) – shelled, unsalted peanuts - toast the peanuts (even if using the roasted version,) in a medium hot oven until golden brown (it took me about 5 minutes). Watch carefully or it will burn.
150g plain flour (abt 1 cup)
½ tsp baking powder
200g sugar
100g butter (cold, cut into cubes)
50g peanut butter (about 2 tbsp)

extra peanut halves to decorate

Pulse the cooled toasted peanuts in the food processor until quite fine, careful not to overdo it or you’ll get peanut butter. Remove peanuts and set aside. Place flour, sugar and butter in the food processor and blitz until the mixture looks “sandy”. Add the peanuts and peanut butter and blitz again until well combined and looks like a soft dough. May need to use a spatula to dislodge any stuck bits from base of processor bowl.

Tip the dough out into a mixing bowl. It may look a bit crumbly but pick some up and see if it can be formed into a ball – the heat from your hands should be enough to meltify the butter and make the dough come together.

Form teaspoonfuls of the mixture into balls and place on lined baking trays. Leave room for spreading. Flatten balls slightly, eggwash the top then press a peanut half carefully into the top. Bake until golden. (I didn’t eggwash the peanut because I didn’t want it to brown too much).

Don’t worry if the cookies dome then crack – they’re meant to do that.

Makes at least 3 dozen cookies.

18 comments:

3 hungry tummies said...

That is my favourite too, didn't get any this year :(

Barbara said...

I always loved fireworks too! Probably everything we used to use is illegal now!
Nice cookies, Shaz. I've made something similar with an almond in the center.
Really super photos!

Lorraine @ Not Quite Nigella said...

Yum! These look great! :D Happy Chinese New Year and Valentines Day to you and your family Shaz! And you definitely sound like a fireworks connoisseur! D

s said...

Im def making these...just one quick question..how do i shell the peanuts..and can i subs the peanut butter with regular?

shaz said...

Aww 3HT, next year I'll post you some :D

Thanks BArbara - yes, they've banned most of the fun fireworks now, ah well.

Thanks Lorraine!

Hi S, I can buy shelled unsalted peanuts here which is what I used, but I remember my mum used to dry roast raw peanuts (we bought the shelled variety, they still had pinkish skins stuck on them). She used a dry wok (no oil) and kept tossing and stirring the peanuts so they wouldn't burn. Then when the skins were dry and brittle, we'd put it on a sort of flat wooden "sieve" and shake it outside. They peanut skins would fly away, leaving the nuts behind. I'm assuming rubbing the peanuts between a clean tea towel (ala hazelnuts) would work as well. And I'm quite sure you can sub the butter, just don't be too tempted to reduce the sugar because I think it acts as a tenseriser. Good luck, let me know how it turns out.

grace said...

mythbusters! peanut butter cookies! fireworks! and with that, i'm suddenly energized for the day ahead. :)

Erica said...

Those cookies look beautiful!!!Happy Valentine's day to you, too!

Hungry Dog said...

Yummy! These look great. Happy new year, shaz!!

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Juliana said...

Nice peanut butter cookies, like the way that you decorated with a peanut :-)

Marcellina said...

Lovely! I like any sort of peanut cookie so this is right up my alley. Great recipe from your mum really the way they use to bake and everything always turned out delicious. Great recount of your childhood memories. Thanks!

The Cooking Photographer said...

15 days of New Year's? Now that sounds like a party!! I hope you've been well Shaz. I am so glad to be home and visiting your blog!

Laura

3 hungry tummies said...

Thanks!!! :)

Anonymous said...

A bit late for my question, but I want to make this for the 2012 CNY and noticed that you didn't specify the oven temp. Would 180 be okay?

shaz said...

Hi Anon - 180 should be ok, I usually use this temp anyway. But all ovens are different, especially if fan forced. I would bake just one tray of a few biscuits first, and keep checking to make sure they don't burn, just to get an estimate of temperature and time for your own oven. Hope that helps and god luck :)

Anonymous said...

Thanks Shaz. I will let you know how it goes. BTW, I love your website and often visit to see what wonderful things you're baking.

Anonymous said...

Made your peanut cookies for CNY and they're delicious. I thought I left one batch in the oven too long, but once it cooled, the "burnt" batch tasted much better than the other batches. It was fiddly work, but well worth it.

shaz said...

Thanks so much for the lovely feedback! I am so glad it worked well for you and happy belated new year wishes :)