It’s been a while that I have notice some different products lining the supermarket shelves. I mean, all the coconut things….sugar, oil and flour. And then in the health food section… chai, cacao nibs and cacao powder. And then off to the tetra pack milks…well, that’s another post! Baking has defiantly taken on a whole new spectrum.

 I saw a post recently on facebook from a friend of mine who photographed her grandchildren “enjoying Acai bowls for morning tea”. Really? Apparently the kids love them. Who knew? What happened to a biscuit and milk for morning tea? I really must be living under a rock.

I wonder if  in 50 years time they’ll be talking about the strange trends back in the early part of the century or if baking will completely change and traditional baking will be for the historians.

These cookies are a traditional Chinese cookie though the Chinese restaurants in my area never served anything like this. The wonderful thing about traditional baking is that it simply took basic ingredients of flour, eggs, butter and sugar and mixed them with local ingredients and a unique recipe was created. And while these cookies look awfully (or should I say, “suspiciously”)like the Syrupy  Almond Cookies in a recent post they are quite a different thing all together.

Now it’s time for the trendy bakers to look away…the original recipe called for 100% lard. Eeek! Ok, so I substituted butter for most of the lard. But do put the lard in (or if you are brave, use all lard)…the texture is amazing!

Dare I say… Long Live Traditional Baking!

Chinese Almond Cookies – adapted from A Baker’s Odyssey by Greg Patent
Makes 36

2 1/2 cups plain flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
180g butter, slightly softened
70g lard, cold
1 cup castor (fine) sugar
1 large egg
2 teaspoons almond extract
36 whole almonds
1 large egg yolk beaten with 1 tablespoon water, for egg wash

Preheat oven to 180C/350F and line a couple of baking trays with baking paper.

Sift together the flour, baking powder and salt
Beat the butter and lard together until smooth and well combined. Add the sugar and beat well until creamy. Beat in the egg and almond extract. Gradually mix in the flour mixture until well combined. The dough should be soft but not sticky.
Turn the dough out and divide into 3 equal portions. Roll into logs 30cm/12inches long. Cut each log into 12 pieces, 2.5cm /1inch long. You should have 36 equal portions. Failing all of that just pinch off pieces of dough to make 36 cookies. Roll dough into balls and position on baking trays. Flatten each slightly and press an almond into the centre of each cookie.

Brush with egg wash and bake in the preheated oven for about 15 minutes or until golden in colour.

Remove from trays and cool on wire racks.

Store in an airtight container.  Apparently the cookies will last for 1 or 2 weeks but they didn’t make it that long in our house!

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