Saturday, 30 January 2010

Traditional Chinese New Year Peanut Cookies (Fah Sang Peng)

*Also available under Chinese New Year Cookies to Order- $20 per box of 30 pcs



Chinese New Year is 2 weeks away, and having missed out on all the festivities back home for the past 6 years, I decided 2010 was the time to more actively recreate some of the buzz all the way here in London, at least on the baking front.

I urge you SERIOUSLY, even if you're not Chinese and don't celebrate CNY, to try this recipe. If your life's experience of peanut cookies has been limited to chunky Western versions made with peanut butter and a criss-cross fork pattern, these little devils will be a revelation- crisp to the bite, then crumbly as you first chew, then melt-in-the-mouth, then unbelievably fragrant as the salty nutty flavour hits your tongue. Well-made fah sang peng are an exercise in taste and textural heaven akin to a cross between buttery shortbread and melting moments, except better, because of the added oomph and aroma of peanuts. :)

The recipe below is simple and easy too, the only slightly time consuming bit being the shaping of the cookie with a bottle cap. Most people choose to add more oil so they can roll the dough into smooth solid balls- I prefer to keep the pastry short and crumbly, and I like the rustic and uneven end result with the little cracks around the edges. Just beware- once baked, you'll have one (just to try), two (just to be sure), and before you know it you'd have had thirty.

Don't say I didn't warn you :)

Traditional Chinese New Year Peanut Cookies (Fah Sang Peng)
Makes about 60 cookies, depending on the size of your bottle cap

Blitz 200g roasted salted peanuts in a blender/spice mill until a finely ground powder/paste is formed.
*Note: I used a ready-to-eat Asda Smartprice pack (which was insanely cheap, only 27p!) that was already roasted, salted and had added vegetable oil, hence a more pasty rather than powdery result. If you prefer you can use raw nuts and dry fry/roast from scratch, but remember you'll be adding salt and oil later anyway.

In a large bowl, sift together:
200g (approx. 1 1/2 cups) plain flour
100g (approx. 3/4 cup) icing sugar (essential for the fine texture- do not substitute with normal sugar)
1/2 tsp baking powder
Dash of salt (more if you used unsalted nuts)

Chuck everything into a food processor (or a mixing bowl if kneading manually), add a good glug of vegetable oil- I used rapeseed, but any mild variety like corn, sunflower or groundnut will do- and blend at high speed (or work with your fingers) until a crumbly, dry, short dough that looks like this is formed:




If the mix is still floury, add more oil gradually and keep blending/kneading until the "grainy sand" look (like shortcrust pastry before liquid is added) is achieved, and forms a solid tightly packed mass if compressed. Be sure not to pour in too much oil at one go- you don't want a greasy mess.


To shape each cookie, place a piece of cling film over a clean bottle cap
(I used the plastic top of an HP sauce bottle, about 3cm wide and 1.5 cm deep)
and press in dough tightly. Yank out the cling film to release the cookie and place on a lined baking sheet. Repeat until all dough is used up.

Using the back of a spoon, brush each cookie with a bit of egg wash (1 egg yolk diluted with 1 tsp of water).


Bake at 160 C fan-assisted (or 180 C for non-convection ovens) for 20-25 minutes until golden brown.

Let cool, then devour!:)


22 comments:

  1. mmm.. i'm so wanting to make that now, but have already decided to try to make pineapple tarts instead.

    ReplyDelete
  2. These look wonderful! I'm adding them to my list of recipes I need to try!

    ReplyDelete
  3. Yum! I just found your recipe featured on foodgawker.com :) Will definitely have to make these for my mom for CNY. Thanks!

    ReplyDelete
  4. i'm cinese but have never had these! they look like a must-try recipe, even if just for my mom.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Great peanut cookies! Can never miss this for CNY :D

    ReplyDelete
  6. These peanut cookies look really scrumptious. Brings back memories when we used to bake these in batches and production line style!

    ReplyDelete
  7. Can I use peanut butter instead of the peanuts?

    ReplyDelete
  8. Hi there. These cookies are so good. I have tried and want to make again soon.

    ReplyDelete
  9. Hi qutins,

    Peanut butter won't work unfortunately, as it's totally the wrong texture (too sticky and creamy) and has a lot of added sugar.

    You may still get a tasty chewy Western style cookie, it just won't be fah sang peng.

    Glad they turned out Deniz!:)

    ReplyDelete
  10. okay im going to try this before CNY!!! thanks for the recipe :)

    ReplyDelete
  11. hi, missed these so much - haven't had any since i moved here 5 yrs ago. just baked this on sunday, they are so yummylicious!!! 60 pcs, just nice to fit into the CNY plastic biscuits jar (saved a few jar fr the arrowroot chips tht my sis bought fr msia for me last CNY). and thanks for the great idea of using the HP bottle cap - save lots of time. :D

    ReplyDelete
  12. Hey Rachel,

    You're very welcome, can't take full credit for the bottle cap idea as I learnt it from researching online. Really happy they turned out for you too, it's good you have a CNY plastic jar they are nowhere to be found in London! :)

    x

    ReplyDelete
  13. Hi Ann, saw your version on your blog thanks for referring and linking back to my recipe :) The sesame seeds are a pretty touch, nice work!

    x
    Sam

    ReplyDelete
  14. Tried this and oh so happy :) but ASDA is too far from where i'm at, so i got my stuff from Sainsbury's instead but the peanuts there were so exp. Managed to get cheaper and bigger packs at ALDI :)

    ReplyDelete
  15. Thanks for a great recipe. They were so good, I had to make these twice for chinese new year. I've added a link to your site for the recipe

    http://themorethanoccasionalbaker.blogspot.com/2010/03/peanut-cookies.html

    PS I met a friend of yours, author of donnowhat2cook

    ReplyDelete
  16. Hey Milochel,

    Glad it worked out, isn't it great how dirt-cheap peanuts work just fine? :)

    You're very welcome Baking Addict, thanks for the link on your blog. What a small world, how did you meet Lai-Lyn (donnowhat2cook)?

    ReplyDelete
  17. You convinced me! How could anyone NOT try this recipe after reading your words and seeing your photos? First I adapted the recipe for Thermomix, and the cookies were a great big hit. (Thank you!) Then converted it to a gluten-free Thermomix recipe and posted a video version of it on my blog at SuperKitchenMachine.com (credit to you of course) Wow, you really started something here Samantha...

    Cheers,
    Helene

    ReplyDelete
  18. YUM!!!! This is really easy. I"m going to try it!

    ReplyDelete
  19. hi! thanks for the recipe! it looks amazing! can i substitute the peanuts for cashew nuts? thanks!

    ReplyDelete
  20. Haha I'm sure you can, but it'll be a cashew cookie not a peanut one :)

    ReplyDelete
  21. Hello Sam, I must thank you for this wonderful recipe.... few days earlier, i tried with another recipe but it didn't turned out how i wish the peanut cookies to be.. then found your recipe and just made some today. and it turned out really the type of peanut cookies i wish for. i am very happy and pleased :) love your creative idea of using bottle cap too.. :) Thanks again and Happy Snake Year :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Yan,

      Yay, so glad the recipe turned out for you! The bottle cap idea was someone else's I found online haha, can't take credit I'm afraid. Happy New Year! xx

      Delete