Chinese Lunar New Year is right around the corner and to celebrate it, I always bake a batch of Chinese Almond Cookies. These cookies remind me of the ones that I used to eat back in Hawaii. I never realized there was something special about them until I couldn’t find anything similar in my area. Like many foods from Hawaii, these cookies bring back fond memories.
My family has always been huge fans of Chinese cuisine and to this day, they will have pans of crispy Chow Mein and Won Ton gracing the table at family gatherings. I can’t recall the first time I tasted these cookies, and if they were store-bought or homemade, but I’m positive it was at a family function so their flavor will always be associated with a happy time.
These cookies are traditional and have a red dot in the center, which some have told me is a trait somewhat unique to Hawaii that is used for decoration and symbolizes good luck. They are light and crispy from the use of shortening instead of butter, and they have a wonderfully addicting almond flavor. Your really can’t eat just one.
Happy Chinese Lunar New Year everyone!
Chinese Almond Cookies
From House of Annie
Makes: about 3-4 dozen cookies, Difficulty: Beginner
- 3 cups all-purpose flour
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 cup Crisco shortening (do not use butter)
- 1 cup vegetable oil
- 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
- 1 egg
- 1 tablespoons almond extract
- Red food coloring, liquid
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line baking sheets with parchment paper and put them to the side.
Sift the flour, salt and baking soda into a medium bowl. Mix the Crisco, oil, sugar, egg and almond extract in a medium bowl until all ingredients are combined (hand mixing actually works well). Add in the dry ingredients and mix until it forms a dough.
Using a cookie scoop or a heaping tablespoon, roll the dough into balls. Place them on the baking sheets about 1 1/2 inches apart. Indent the center of the cookie using the back of a chopstick that has been dipped into red food coloring. Press down about 1/3 through the thickness of the cookie. You can also use a slice of almond in place of the red food color if you desire.
Bake for 12-16 minutes until the cookies are just slightly golden brown around the edges. They will expand and crack a little. Remove from the oven and transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
Note: These cookies are best baked immediately after mixing up the dough since the mixture tends to dry out which results in cookies that are more cracked.