You may be familiar with these Chinese peanut cookies as a Lunar New Year sweet. Hua sheng bing are often sold in tall plastic containers at the markets. I assure you that homemade ones taste far better.
This recipe comes from my friend and stylist Karen Shinto. Not only do we work together on my cookbook projects but we also trade recipes. She was so jazzed about these cookies that she emailed photos, asking me if I wanted the recipe. Heck yes.
These peanut cookies are full of peanut goodness, rich and lardy but there's no lard involved. Ground peanuts, cooking oil, and butter enrich the dough. The confectioners' (powdered) sugar added to the crumbly texture. Karen used canola but I opted for semi-refined peanut oil that I get at the Chinese market; you can use unrefined peanut oil sold at health food stores. That type of peanut oil adds a lovely roast-y peanut taste and perfume. These cookies come together very quickly. As for those cracks? They add character. May your Chinese New Year be all the better for having these cookies at your table. Or, secure your wealth by enjoying these cookies all year long. —Andrea Nguyen
48 to 60 cookies
plus 2 tablespoons unsalted, roasted peanuts
1 1/4 cups
(2 cups plus 2 tablespoons) all-purpose flour
Position a rack in the middle of the oven and preheat to 325° F. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment.
Put the peanuts in a food processor and grind into the texture of coarse crumbs. Add the confectioners' sugar and process until there is a mixture of fine crumbs and powder, stopping to scrape the bottom of the bowl if needed. Do not over process or you'll end up with peanut butter.
In a large bowl, combine the flour, salt, and baking powder. Dump the peanut mixture into bowl and stir until well combined.
Drizzle melted butter and the oil into the bowl. Use your hands to mix and knead the ingredients to form soft dough. It will soften as you knead it. The dough texture feel a bit like coarse playdough. If the dough becomes too soft to handle and feels oily, refrigerate the dough for 15 minutes to firm up. If the dough feels dry, add oil one tablespoon at a time.
Roll the dough into 1-inch balls and put them on the baking sheets, spaced 1 1/2 inches apart. If you like, put a little decorative stamp on top. I used the top of a clean and dry Sharpie pen cap!
Brush the tops with lightly with beaten egg, then bake for 20 to 22 minutes until light golden in color. Transfer to racks and let cool completely before eating or storing in an airtight container. These cookies are very delicate and can smudge easily. Be gentle with them.
Andrea Nguyen is a James Beard award-winning author, cooking teacher, consultant and editor. Her latest book is "Vietnamese Food Any Day" (Ten Speed Press, 2019). She edited "Unforgettable", the biography cookbook about culinary legend Paula Wolfert.