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Cashew Cookies for Chinese New Year

Chinese New Year (CNY) is fast approaching, on the 9th February to be precise, and what I would immediately associate with this occasion, other than the obvious entry into a new Luna calendar year, are 1) red packets and 2) yummy goodies!

On 1), this is one occasion that single folks, for once, are lucky to be recognised as such and would be able to receive them. To find out more about the story behind the tradition, you can click here.

Moving onto the more important point 2). My understanding is that Chinese expect their children to eat as many cookies, oranges and orange-inspired dishes as they can stomach, to get their bodies prepared for the sweetness that the New Year will bring! Oranges because they symbolize good fortune as they are sweet and one of China's most abundant fruits.

Cookies for CNY - the more common varieties are almond, cashew, cornflakes and pineapple tarts. Reason for my choice recipe is simply because I have spare capacity of cashew nuts and stores carried more of the almond ones.

This recipe marks the first time I encountered and experimented with cake or pastry flour, which I found out, is a fine-textured, soft-wheat flour with a high starch content, resulting in particularly tender cakes and pastries. The cookies had the predicted tender texture, crumbling in my mouth without much effort at all. Very nice and different from all store-bought varieties! The amount of sugar was just enough to balance what-would-otherwise-be-the-floury taste of dough, yet not overlysweet such that the cookie is mentally transformed into a sugar cookie instead. The ground cashew nuts in the dough provided the subtle hint of the type of nut and a slight crunch. Aroma of the cookie was also enhanced by the pre-grounding step of toasting the nuts. I would recommend upping the amount of sugar if you like your cookies sweet.

How about getting your body prepared for sweetness of the New Year?

SE's Cashew Cookies

- 75g unsalted butter, room temperature
- 50g icing sugar, sifted
- 1 egg
- 125g cake flour, sifted
- 1/2 tsp baking powder, sifted with flour
- 50g cashew nuts, toasted and ground
- about 45-50 halved cashew nuts

Preheat oven at 180C.
Beat butter, icing sugar and egg until light and creamy.
Fold in flour, baking powder and ground cashew nuts and mix well to form a soft dough.
Refrigerate the dough for about 10 minutes to firm it up a little.
With help of 2 teaspoons, scoop up dough to form a round shape and drop on greaseproof parchment paper (These cookies won't spread much so you may put them closer than regular cookies).
Press a half cashew nut on top of each cookie for decoration. Brush cookies with egg glaze (optional, but it helps the nut to stay in place).
Bake in preheated oven for 12 minutes until lightly golden brown. The cookies will still feel slightly soft, fresh out from the oven, but they will firm up once they are cooled.
Cool on wire racks before storing in airtight container.

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