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Happy Chinese New Year! This year it falls on February 5, 2019. According to the Chinese zodiac system, there are 12 animals to represent each year, and this is the Year of the Pig. It also marks the end of the rotation of all 12 animals, offering a well-deserved break for all animals in the zodiac.
This is a great time to reflect on the past year, and then look forward to the year ahead, which is supposed to be a period of joy and relaxation, full of goodwill and happiness. (If you were born in 1923, 1935, 1947, 1959, 1971, 1983, 1995, 2007, or 2019, you’re a Pig. To find your Chinese horoscope animal, use this calculator.)
This year, I thought it would be fun to bake Chinese almond cookies to share with friends and neighbors. I had to give it an Amish Friendship Bread twist, of course. This recipe was super easy AND yielded a lot of cookies. It’s a zillion times better than what you can get at your local Chinese restaurant, IMHO!
The ingredients are simple: Cream starter, butter (softened), sugar, egg and almond extract.
Sift together flour, baking soda, and salt. Mix with wet ingredients until just combined.
The Big Chill: A Sidenote. If you have some time (or want to prepare the dough ahead of time), I recommend letting the dough chill for a minimum of 30 minutes up to 3 hours. You could also chill it overnight. The reason for this is texture: chilling the cookie dough gives the fats a chance to solidify and the sugar has more time to absorb more liquids in the recipe. You’ll end up with a firmer cookie that is still soft and chewy, but not too spread out or doughy-tasting.
For this particular recipe, I definitely wanted the cookies to have a little snap in them, so I chilled the dough overnight for most of the cookies. I went ahead and did a little experiment so you could see the difference:
Some people can taste the difference, others can’t. So it’s up to you!
When you’re ready to bake, roll into 1″ balls and space 2″ apart on an ungreased baking sheet. You can also prepare the dough ahead of time and chill in the fridge until you’re ready to bake.
Flatten with the palm of your hand or the flat end of the fork.
Brush the top of each cookie with an egg wash and place a single sliced almond flat on the top.
Bake at 325° F (167° C) for 15 minutes, or until cookies begin to brown on the edges. Allow to cool in pan for a couple of minutes and then transfer cookies to a wire rack.
If you’re giving them as a Chinese New Year gift, wrap in colorful cellophane with a red ribbon (red is a lucky color according to Chinese custom). I found these adorable food-safe zipper bags in our local WalMart that I decided to use, but these clear dotted ones are cute, too.
I hope you have a great Year of the Pig!
These Amish Friendship Bread Chinese Almond Cookies are easy to make and a great way to herald in the new year.
- 1 egg beaten
- ½ teaspoon water
Preheat oven at 325° F (167° C).
In a large mixing bowl, cream starter, butter, sugar, egg, and almond extract.
In a medium mixing bowl, sift flour, baking soda, and salt.
Add flour mixture to starter mixture. Stir until just combined.
Optional: Chill dough for 30 minutes to overnight.
Roll into 1″ balls and place 2″ apart on an ungreased baking sheet.
Flatten with palm of hand or flat end of the fork.
In a small bowl, beat the egg and water. Using a pastry brush or your finger, lightly brush over the top each cookie. Add a single sliced almond on top.
Bake for 15 minutes, or until cookies begin to brown on the edges.
Cool in pan for two minutes then move to wire racks.
Want a little more almond punch? Increase the almond extract to ½ teaspoon.
>> Have you tried this? Share your best pic with us or leave a comment below and let us know how it worked for you!