Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Butter Cookies for Chinese New Year!

It's the Lunar New Year again! I can't decide which I prefer, Christmas or Chinese New Year (CNY).. They are both on my favourite holiday list.





For the non-Chinese readers, CNY is probably the most important and celebrated festival for the Chinese.  It marks the beginning of the New Year (according to the Lunar Calendar), and we generally spend quite a lot of time and effort getting all ready for it.  There's the usual spring cleaning which happens a week or two before CNY where most families would do a massive clean up of their houses.  Yes, my husband has been going crazy scrubbing every corner of the house the past few weeks.

Celebrations begin on the eve of New Year, where everyone in the family gets together for reunion dinner.  For my family, we are having our reunion dinner 2 days earlier because we are a family with 3 daughters (2 married). So in an effort to have all her little women back together, my mum had to plan for an earlier dinner date, as my elder sis and myself have to join our husbands' families for dinner on the actual eve.   

  


Family visitations take place on New Year's day.  Usually most families would gather at the house of the most senior family member, and we will get to meet all our relatives (some whom we meet only once a year).   There's a custom in which married couples have to give children and single adults ang pows (red packets with money).  As a child and unmarried adult, I loved that custom... After marriage, not so much.. This is probably the single reason why CNY has dropped a notch on my 'favourite holiday list'. hahaa.

There's also a lot of food involved in CNY celebrations.  A LOT.  Lots of baked goods which I loooove..  Pineapple tarts, kueh bangkits...  This year, I had the wonderful opportunity to learn how to make butter cookies from my aunt.  She makes the best butter cookies and every year we wait in anticipation to receive a tin from her.  Well, no more waiting required for me from here on...   I've been making so many cookies that I literally used up all my tupperware for storage!  My husband is so-not-amused..

Well... Here's wishing all a buttery and prosperous Lunar New Year!  Gong Xi Fa Cai!



Recipe for Butter Cookies
makes around 170-180 cookies, you can halve the recipe for a lesser yield
you will require a good electric mixer for this recipe

500g salted butter (room temperature)
250g icing sugar, sifted
1kg of self-raising flour + a pinch of salt, sifted
2 eggs (room temperature)
handful of mini chocolate chips for decorations (optional but highly recommended!)

Directions
- Cream butter and sugar together using an electric mixer till mixture turns light and fluffy (this takes about 10-15 minutes)
- Meanwhile, preheat oven to 175*C
- Beat in the eggs one at a time on a low mixing speed
- After the eggs are fully incorporated, slowly add in the flour on low speed, one cup at a time until the flour is fully mixed in.
- Using a mini cookie press/nozzle, press the cookie dough out on to a prepared cookie sheet (it takes lots of practice to make the shape perfect, I gave up being a perfectionist 1/4 way through :P).  Space the cookies around 5cm apart (they do not spread/expand that much while baking)
- Place a mini-chocolate chip in the centre of the cookie.
-  Bake in the pre-heated oven for 15-20 minutes.  Keep a check on the cookies, if they brown too quickly at the top, cover the top with aluminium foil or baking paper and continue on with the baking.  Leave to cool on baking trays for 5-10 minutes, then transfer to wire racks to cool completely.


6 comments:

  1. I love butter cookies! I enjoyed reading your blog, getting to learn more about the Chinese New Year traditions. I have a couple of Chinese friends so I get to relate a bit with the things you have mentioned. I know Chinese people believe the more dishes on the table on the New Year, the more blessings. Sticky foods to keep families stick together, sweet foods for a sweeter relationship and round fruits for more luck. Thanks for sharing your cookie recipe...Happy New Year! Google says it is the year of the water dragon ;)

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  2. Hi My Fudo, sorry for the late reply cos the past few days have been a whirlwind of housecleaning, house gatherings and feasting!
    Hmm. We actually just eat anything and everything.. haha.. but we do have a sweet & sticky cake called "nian gao". It's believed to be an offering to the Kitchen God, with the aim that his mouth will be stuck with the sticky cake, so that he can't badmouth the human's family to the God of all Gods. ;) Cute belief, isn't it?
    Yep, it's the year of the water dragon.. I never knew before that our Chinese zodiacs are influenced by the 5 elements till this year. Apparently I'm a Metal Rooster!
    The Chinese love the dragon year because the dragon symbolises power and good fortune..

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  3. Butter cookies, mmmmmmm. My mouth melts!

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  4. Your butter cookies look beautiful. The shape lifts them well above the ordinary.

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