Almond cookies for Chinese New Year

I’ve always believed that it’s not really Chinese New Year without the following things: 1) family + the people you love (and who love you!), 2) cookies, and 3) cheesy Chinese ‘tong tong chiang’ type music.

I made my first ever batch of Chinese New Year peanut cookies and pineapple tarts last year, and really enjoyed the whole process. I’m not sure why it took me so long to do it, but I suspect that it was something to do with the fact that I usually have a supply of cookies from home…

But anyhow, back to the cookies. I wanted to try making something different this year, primarily because I’ll be back home for Chinese New Year this time around (yay!) and therefore have no immediate need to bake my favourite peanut cookies. 🙂 So I decided on almond cookies, which are one of the more popular cookies during the festive period.

I modified the peanut cookie recipe I used last year as it was rather simple and non-finicky, and replaced the peanuts with almonds. I also decided to use lard in the cookies instead of oil – I’ve always been told that lard is the secret to perfect ‘melt in your mouth’ cookies, and I wanted to see if this was true.

So what did I think? Well, first of all I was a little alarmed when the cookies were in the oven, as they smelt EXACTLY like pork crackling. Though truth be told, little bites of pork crackling isn’t the worst thing in the world.. in fact it would be an excellent snack! 😉 They didn’t smell of pork once they’d cooled though – thankfully. On the ‘melt in the mouth’ scale, I felt that they were a little ‘meltier’ compared to the cookies I made last year. However (I don’t believe I’m saying this), I feel that that extra little bit of ‘melt in your mouth-ness’ doesn’t justify the unhealthiness of lard… so I think I’ll stick with oil in the future. This must be a sign of ageing.

Almond cookies typically have a piece of silvered almond on their tops – I had run out of these so decided to stick to the tried and true method of making an indentation instead. I used a chopstick to do this, some people like to use a (clean) pen cover or straw.

Am planning to make a few more types of cookies, and I promise to blog about them promptly if I do!

Chinese New Year almond cookies
Makes approximately 50-60 cookies, depending on size

  • 2 cups ground almonds
  • 2 cups plain flour
  • 3/4 cup icing sugar (alternatively, use castor sugar)
  • 220g lard (alternatively, use 1 cup corn oil)
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 egg, beaten

1. Dry fry the ground almonds in a wide non-stick pan (over medium heat), until they start to become fragrant and lightly browned. Take care to make sure you do not burn the almonds, as it will impart an unpleasant burnt taste to your cookies.
If you don’t have ground almonds, you can use whole almonds (without skins), and pulse them into a fine powder after dry frying.
2. Place the ground almonds, flour, sugar and salt in a bowl, and mix with a spatula until well combined.
3. Using a pastry blender, incorporate the lard into the almond/flour mix, until you form a cohesive dough. A good guide is to try forming a ball from the dough – it should not crumble. You may need more or less oil/lard depending on the weather.
Alternatively, you can use a food processor for this step: place the almond/flour mix in the food processor bowl, add chopped cubes of lard, and pulse until it forms a cohesive dough. If using oil, trickle the oil in slowly whilst pulsing.
4. Heat the oven to 180′C.
5. Form the dough into 2cm balls, and place on a baking tray lined with parchment paper. Press down lightly with a chopstick (or a straw or a clean pen cover), this forms the indentation you see in the cookie.
Alternatively, place a piece of slivered almond on the top of the cookie (after eggwashing though!).
7. Glaze lightly with the beaten egg.
8. Bake for 15-20 minutes, until they turn a lovely shade of golden brown.

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32 thoughts on “Almond cookies for Chinese New Year”

  1. oh my god was it this time last year we were making pineapple tarts? OH MAN I MISS YOU. we had so much fun and I really genuinely wish that we had gotten to know each other earlier and spent more time baking together. Miss you xx

    1. I KNOWW a year has passed by so quickly! We never did bake together again despite saying we should, such a shame. Hopefully one day we’ll be neighbours again and this time we won’t get it wrong! Miss you too. xx

  2. Your cookies looks so yummy! Do you personally prefer this or the peanut version? And also can i substitute with vegetable oil/olive oil/melted butter? Would the texture be the same? Thanks in advance! 🙂

    1. I prefer the peanut version, but I generally prefer peanuts to almonds anyway.

      You can substitute with vegetable oil or groundnut oil, but NOT olive oil (as olive oil has an olive-y taste which won’t go with the cookies). You can also use melted butter, yes. I would use the melted butter only after it’s cooled down slightly, ie not piping hot.

      Hope that helps! 🙂

  3. Very nice!!! Will wanna make these with the peanuts (&may be soft dbl chocolate chip cookies as well) for DS to bring to school on Monday to share with his classmates. But I think I’m going to try out using rapseed oil instead. Corn oil is impossible to find here.

  4. I made these for CNY, didn’t use lard but vegetable oil. However even though we were able to get them to form into the ball, once baked they broke apart at the slightest touch, they literally felt apart into crumbs. We thought this was perhaps due to the fact we used vegetable oil, which never itself solidifies like butter and lard, without any egg. Today I baked them again using butter, it was able to stay in shape. What do u think about my vegetable oil theory?

    1. I’ve made peanut cookies with this same recipe (using peanuts in place of almonds), using corn oil and haven’t had the problem of it being too crumbly after baking – not sure why they were so crumbly for you. Perhaps there wasn’t enough oil in the dough? It’s hard to say, but at any rate I’m glad you managed to get the result you wanted with butter.

  5. Hi! I stumbled upon your blog while in search of almond cookies recipe. was just wondering what’s the purpose of deep frying the ground almonds? can I do without the step? Thanks!

    1. Hi,

      Not sure if it’s a typo on your end, but the almonds should be DRY-fried, not DEEP-fried. The purpose of dry frying the almonds (i.e. in a pan without oil) is to bring out the nutty oils and flavour. It isn’t compulsory, but it imparts extra flavour – and who doesn’t want that!

      Hope that helps.

    1. Ground almonds are in powdered form – they are whole (unskinned) almonds which have been ground to make a powder.
      If you only have whole almonds, you can toast them over low heat in a frying pan (increases flavour of the almonds, but you can skip this step), then grind them to a fine powder using a food processor.

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