Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Crunchy Melt-in-your-mouth Nutty Crumbly - Which is your Best Chinese Almond Cookies?

"Now try these and tell me which is your favourite..."

For this post and our Chinese New Year, I have baked four different types of Chinese almond cookies; (1) the crunchy ones, (2) the buttery and melt-in-the-mouth ones, (3) the light and melty ones embedded with small chunks of nuts and (4) the fully almond-loaded extra nutty and crumbly ones.

"I like this one!" my son exclaimed excitedly after munching all four of these cookies. "This one melts in my mouth!"

"This is nice... This is nice too... This one is good... This extra nutty is good too!" said my husband while munching these cookies. I can see that my husband was trying to taste all these cookies very analytically but can't decide which is his favourite. "They are all very nice and I really like them all..."

Actually, I felt the same like my husband!


In another words, these are four very different Chinese almond cookies made with four very different recipes and I like them all? Yup!

Seriously no joke...

best melt in the mouth Chinese almond cookies
Here, I'm searching for the best Chinese Almond Cookies...
And I found four really good recipes!!!

What are the differences?
Like what I always do to explore and compare pineapple tart recipes, I have tabulated and compared these four almond cookies recipes by standardising their fat content to 100g in order to have a better understanding of their differences.


Too overwhelming and confusing? Yeah... Please allow me to tell you how I baked these cookies first. Then I will tell you why these cookies are so different and why I like them all...

Most Chinese almond cookies that I have came across use vegetable oil, preferably peanut oil but...
I prefer to use the extra smooth neutral-tasting trans fat free rice bran oil for my almond cookie baking as it is awesome!
Besides using vegetable oil or rice bran oil, there are two recipes that I tried that require the use of butter and we love them too.
To pre-roast or not? Two of the recipes that I tried require pre-roasting of ground almond meal and one requires re-roasting of chopped almond.
Is this step necessary? Yes! ... but not necessary for ground almond used in the Bread et Butter (Crunchy) and Food Manna recipe because the high sugar content will help to "roast" the ground almond while baking the cookies.

You know. Baking these cookies is extremely easy!!!

First I did this.
This step is the same for all recipes.
Thanks to Davis and Waddell for giving me this super stylish and handy spatula for mixing :)
Then add oil (and melted butter if required) and mix until mixture form a dough.
Use this step for all recipes except the Bread et Butter (melt-in-the-mouth) one.
For the Bread et Butter (melt-in-the-mouth): rub cold butter into the flour mixture until it forms crumbs-like mixture and then combine the crumbs to form a dough.

To shape the cookies, you can either 1) divide dough into balls that are 2.5 cm (1 inch) in diameter or roll cookie dough to about 1 cm thick and cut into shapes using cookie cutters.

Now it's baking time.
Before baking, brush the cookies with egg wash. The curious me have tried applying two types of egg wash: mainly 1) egg yolk wash and 2) whole egg wash.

The crunchy almond cookies by Bread et Butter before baking...
The melt-in-the-mouth almond cookies by Bread et Butter before baking...
With the least amount of flour and ground almond, you can see here that the cookie dough made with Food Manna recipe is very sloppy! In order to test this recipe in its most original form, I didn't want to add extra flour to roll and cut into shape and so I just roll them briefly into balls.
According to the original recipe, I'm using whole egg wash with the addition of custard powder to brush the Food Manna's cookies. Is this better than the whole egg or the egg yolk washes? Will tell you later...
Ops! Due to the fact that the cookie dough made with My Kitchen Snippets is extremely loaded with heaps of ground almond, it can very crumbly and difficult to handle. Personally, I think that the best way to shape the cookies is by pressing the cookie crumbs together and use a very simple round cutter to cut into shapes as other shaping methods hasn't been working for me!

After baking ...

No clear cut differences? Yeah...
I think that both egg yolk and whole egg wash work the same for these Bread et Butter Crunchy cookies but of course, the egg yolk looks nicer with a glossy finish.
Totally NO differences here!
Both egg yolk and whole egg wash work exactly the same for these Bread et Butter melt-in-the-mouth cookies and won't affect their texture and taste too.
Yes... that this whole egg wash with custard powder is GOOD and it works really well with this recipe!
Sorry that I have not tried egg yolk or just whole egg wash for this recipe and wouldn't know which is better.
There is a distinguished difference in this!!!
Clearly, it is better to use egg yolk wash to bake these My Kitchen Snippets fully loaded almond cookies than using the whole egg wash as the egg yolk wash is making these cookies looking extra appealing!

Now back to the question, how and why I choose these four recipes? Based on my Google search, I have found many traditional Chinese almond cookies recipes. Then being the typical crazy baking me, I was staring the recipes and my gut feeling was telling me that these four recipes are going to be good and I'm right!!! They are awesome!!! Although these four types of almond cookies are all so different, they are so good in their own way... And we can appreciate all of them. Can you? Or which is your favourite?

If you can't tell which is your favourite, I would suggest to forget their differences and enjoy them all!!!

Recipe one: Crunchy Almond Cookies by Bread et Butter originated from here

With the use of adequate amount of caster sugar and the addition of baking powder and baking soda, these cookies are sweet, salty, crunchy with a sandy aftertaste. I can guarantee that every mouthful of these can be super addictive!


best crunchy Chinese almond cookies
Crunchy Chinese almond cookies... Very addictive!

Recipe two: Melt-in-the-mouth Almond Cookies by Bread et Butter originated from here

These almond cookies are my son's favourite as they are so milky, buttery, fragrance and can literally melt-in-our-mouth. Traditionally, it can made with lard or oil but we love these the most with butter.

best melt in the mouth Chinese almond cookies
Melt-in-the-mouth Chinese almond cookies. It is my son's favourite!

Recipe Three: Traditional Light and Crunchy Almond Cookies (with small chunks of almonds) by Food Manna originated from here

This recipe is like the little salty almond cookies that I have baked previously but I have used cold butter instead of oil and so my butter dough is not so sloppy. Although these almond cookies don't look as appealing as the rest of the cookies, I can assure you will be impressed after your first mouthful of these cookies... They are so light in their texture with melty aftertaste and crunchy too with small chunks of almonds. For sure that you won't say no to a second cookie...

best light melty nutty Chinese almond cookies
Light and melty Chinese almond cookies with small chunks of almond.
It's hard to say no to the second cookie!

Recipe Four: The Extremely Almond-loaded and Crumbly Almond Cookies by My Kitchen Snippets originated from here.

Looking at the recipes closely, you can see this recipe is fully loaded with ground almond!!! Yes... These cookies are very fragrant with lots of almond. If you love to snack on almonds or anything that is made with almond, I'm sure that you will love these cookies very much too! 

best nutty melt in the mouth Chinese almond cookies
The fully almond loaded nutty and crumbly almond cookies.
I can go totally nuts eating these.
My son said that these melt-in-the mouth almond cookies are his favourite. What is yours?
Can't decide? Well, you are not alone. Then bake all of them! LOL!

Here are the recipes.

Recipe One: Crunchy Almond Cookies by Bread et Butter mostly adapted from here

Makes about 50
150g all purpose flour
75g caster sugar
3/4 tsp baking powder
3/4 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
100g finely ground almond (almond meal)
100 ml vegetable oil, preferably smooth and neutral-tasting oil

Egg wash: 1 egg yolk or 1 whole egg, lightly beaten
(egg yolk works better for this recipe as it gives a glossy finish)

Recipe Two: Melt-in-the-mouth Almond Cookies by Bread et Butter mostly adapted from here

Makes about 50
100g finely ground almond (almond meal)
(pre-roasted, spread a thin layer on a baking tray lined with baking paper and bake at 170ºC for 7 mins or until golden and fragrant, cooled completely at room temperature)
135g all purpose flour
45g icing sugar
1/4 tsp salt
100g butter, cold, cut into cubes

Egg wash: 1 egg yolk or 1 whole egg, lightly beaten
(both work equally well)

Recipe Three: Traditional Light Melty Almond Cookies with Chopped Almond by Food Manna mostly adapted from here

Makes about 40
60g roughly chopped almonds with no skin, pre-roasted on a baking tray lined with baking paper and bake at 170ºC for 10 mins or until light golden brown, cooled completely at room temperature
115g plain flour
83g icing sugar
3/4 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
50g finely ground almond (almond meal)
100ml vegetable oil, preferably smooth and neutral-tasting

Eggwash: 1 egg plus 1 tsp custard powder, lightly beaten together

Recipe Four: The Extremely Almond-loaded and Crumbly Almond Cookies by My Kitchen Snippets mostly adapted from here.


Makes about 60
165g finely ground almond (almond meal)
(pre-roasted, spread a thin layer on a baking tray lined with baking paper and bake at 170ºC for 7 mins or until golden and fragrant, cooled completely at room temperature)
145g all purpose flour
60g icing sugar
2/3 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
50g vegetable oil, preferably smooth and neutral-tasting (+ 1 tbsp, 15ml oil because the mixture is too crumbly to handle)
50g unsalted butter, melted

Egg wash: 1 egg yolk, lightly beaten
(Do not use whole egg wash for this recipe. The egg yolk wash is better as it gives the cookies a nicer glossy finish.)

To make the dough for all recipes:
Combine flour, sugar, baking powder (if there is any), baking soda (if there is any) and salt and sift flour mixture into a large mixing bowl. Then, use a spatula to mix in ground almond (pre-roasted if required) and chopped almond (for recipe three only) into the flour mixture.


For recipe one, three and four:
Add oil and melted butter (for recipe four only) into the dry ingredients and use a spatula to mix until the mixture comes together to form a soft pliable dough. For recipe four: If dough is too dry, add a bit more oil.

For recipe two:
Using a pastry blender or your finger tips, rub cold butter into the flour mixture until it forms a breadcrumb looking mixture. Then use your hand to combine the crumbs into a dough. Do not knead or over handle the mixture.

Preheat the oven to 180ºC. Line baking trays with baking papers.

To shape:

For recipe one, two and four:
Roll cookie dough on non stick surfaces (like baking paper) to about 1 cm thick. Cut dough with cookie cutters. Transfer and arrange the cut dough onto the prepared baking tray with about 1-2 cm apart. Gather scraps and continue to roll and cut out dough until the dough is used up. Important: The dough made with recipe four can be too crumbly to roll and difficult to handle and so it is better to use basic shapes like circle or oval cookie cutters to cut the rolled dough.

For recipe three:
Divide dough into balls that are about 2.5cm (1 inches) in diameter, and place on baking trays lined with baking paper. Repeat until all the dough is used up. Arrange cookie dough with about 1-2 cm apart onto the prepared baking tray.

To bake for all recipes:
Use a pastry brush to lightly glaze the tops of the cookie dough with egg wash. Brush the first coat of egg wash mixture onto cookie dough. Let dry for approximately 15 mins, then brush on the second layer.

Bake for 13-18 mins, or until the cookies are slightly golden. Important: Depending on the shapes and sizes of the cookies, please note the baking duration and number of cookies yielded can vary.

Leave to cool slightly on the baking tray for 5-10 mins to a wire rack, then transfer the cookies to cool on the wire racks to cool completely. Store cookies in airtight container when they are completely cooled.

Happy Chinese New Year Baking

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31 comments:

  1. Hi Zoe,
    Thank you for sharing this almond cookies recipe. I've been wanting to bake this too. Now I don't need to look far for the recipe. Thanks dear! :*

    oh btw, I've joined the giveaway. Done all except commenting on Wei Lee's Passion. There is no column or link to comment on. :/

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks Jean for joining our giveaway and telling me about commenting problem! I will check and fix this problem :) Hope that you will like these cookies and also be the lucky winner! Cheers!

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    2. I couldn't find any comment form on Wei Lee's Passion too. :)

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    3. No worries, Sharon! We are on our way to fix Wei Lee's commenting problem. Cheers!

      Delete
  2. Thanks for the recipes, I have to try those! And thanks for the contest, it's really amazing!
    hugs from Italy :)

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  3. Thanks for the recipes and I love your blog thank you so much for the recipes

    ReplyDelete
  4. Hi Zoe! Thanks for your amazing recipes and detailed photos! I have also joined the giveaways and except for weileepassion I couldn't find a place to comment. :) keep up the great work! We can see the effort!!! :D you're an inspiration!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you for your support! We have informed Wei Lee about this commenting problem and hope to fix the problem soon. Cheers!

      Delete
  5. Zoe, you are too amazing! I don't know which one to try..haha! :D

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  6. Hi Zoe, great post as usual! Just wanted to say a big thank you for inspiring us to bake bake bake!

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  7. Hi Zoe, I have tried baking recipe one. Although the dough was a bit soft. Guess too much oil. But it tasted great! How long do you think the tarts can keep? Thanks for sharing.

    Cheers.
    Ottavia

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    Replies
    1. Hi Ottavia,

      Nice to know that you like the cookies made by recipe. I don't remember the dough made from this recipe is too soft. Have you added the right amount of oil?

      The cookies can last for about 2-3 weeks when they are stored in air tight containers at room temperature. Cheers!

      Zoe

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  8. hi
    i just tried recipe 2..taste good but dint really melt in mouth..if i feel its abit dry what step could i have done wrong?kindly advise thks

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    Replies
    1. Hi Mary,

      Sorry to hear that your cookies are not really melty. The butter has to be cold and the mixture should NOT be over-mixed and should NOT be kneaded. This will toughen the texture of these cookies. Cheers!

      Zoe

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    2. i might have overmixed again :*(
      alwys have such tendency... jus not good enough to judge that i have mixed well.. will try again.
      just use our fingers to mix will do right?
      thanks

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    3. the butter must be just out from fridge not melted right?

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    4. Hi Mary,

      It's ok to use your fingertips to mix or you are not sure, you can use a food processor to pulse mixture.

      Yes, the butter has to cold, NOT melted!

      Zoe

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    5. thanks zoe! I will try again tonight , and not overmix!
      butter is correct must be my method not rite :P
      hope I can succeed tonight :)

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  9. Hi Zoe, thanks for making the comparison. I tried the Bread et Butter recipe for CNY and received many positive comments. All like the crunchiness with a few commenting that it is a little hard. Can you advise how to make it less hard? Thanks in advance.

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    Replies
    1. Hi,

      Nice to hear that you like one of these recipes that I have tried and sorry to hear that your cookies are too little hard to munch. I'm guessing that you might have over baked your cookies and can suggest these possible solutions if you like to try baking these cookies again: 1) bake for a shorter duration 2) use a lower temperature like 10 degree lesser 3) try using the egg yolk egg wash instead of the whole egg wash because the egg yolk wash makes the cookies less firmer 4) try icing sugar instead of caster sugar to make the crumbs finer 5) use oil that has a smoother and thicker texture like peanut oil (not canola oil)

      Happy Baking

      Zoe

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  10. Your cookies look AAAmazing! I will try them soon! Thanksss!

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  11. Hi thanks for the recipes! Question can I use pecans or walnuts instead?

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    Replies
    1. Hi! Yes you can and you can use peanuts or cashew nuts too. However, the different fat content, taste and texture of these substituting nuts will definitely make the cookies taste a little different.

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  12. Hi,
    What is the fan forced oven temperature for baking recipe.1 (crunchy)?

    Thanks

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi, You can also bake any of these cookies at 160ºC fan forced. Cheers!

      Zoe

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  13. Hi, the recipe 2 called for cold butter, but must it be softened or just take out from fridge?

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    Replies
    1. Hi May,

      The butter has to be cold and not softened. Cheers!

      Zoe

      Delete
  14. Hi, love your passion for food and creativity that you have injected in!!
    I admire how you are able to try so many different and experiment and also sharing it here, Thanks very much!! You are cool and great!!

    ReplyDelete
  15. Hi

    What is ground almond? Is it almond flour?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Yee Lim,

      Almond flour is finely ground almond. Almond meal is also ground almond but slightly coarsely ground than almond flour. You can use either almond flour or almond meal for these recipes but almond meal will be nicer with more bits of almond in the cookies. Cheers!

      Zoe

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