Hi guys! It's Nona Nona time again, and this month's theme, Chinese New Year, was picked by Biren, who helms Roti n Rice and Tea Tattler and is my blogger BFF and partner in crime. We've been at this for almost a year now, since our first Nona Nona collaboration, the object being to present two different dishes each month, on the same theme, without revealing to each other, what dish we're preparing, until the day of the reveal.
first here and then again here, when we both presented the same dish.
This time, I'm pretty sure we won't be duplicating each other, but fingers firmly crossed, all the same. Now that we're done with the intros, let's roll up our sleeves and get those aprons on!
These delightful and easy cookies are a Cantonese creation, which is no surprise, as the Cantonese do seem really fond of walnuts, turning them not only into amazingly fragrant and crunchy cookies, but also lovely sweet soups, and moreish caramel coated nibbles.
But, back to these cookies - they're my absolute favourite Chinese New Year treat, though I am firmly in the chewy cookie camp. I can't resist their crumbly and light texture, and the intoxicating aroma of toasty walnuts and sweet, creamy vanilla. But, the tipping point for me, is the salty-sweet flavour juxtaposition of these pretty morsels; it makes them irresistible and alarmingly addictive.
I don't know how far this is true, but I've been told these cookies were traditionally made without walnuts (say what??) and with lots of lard. The lard bit I get as it has long been associated with Chinese pastry making, seeing as how much they love the very tasty pig and how butter has never been a part of the traditional southern Chinese diet. The no-walnut rule though, has me puzzled. Why call it a walnut cookie if it's not supposed to have walnuts in it?? One of my boys likens the fissured surface of the baked cookie to the appearance of a walnut kernel, but his brother shot him right down with his insistence that they look more like dried shiitake mushroom caps. Hmm, the doughy plot thickens...
Chinese New Year is a very big deal in Singapore as more than eighty percent of the local population is of Chinese origin. In fact, not so very long ago, in busy bustling Singapore, many Chinese owned businesses would close for an entire week during Chinese New Year, to mark the occasion. Even street traffic would decrease dramatically as celebrants prepared to be reunited with family members and relatives not seen since the previous year's reunion dinner, often crossing the border into Malaysia, to do so. These days, with the demands of burgeoning enterprise, expansion and globalisation, the wheels of commerce keep turning regardless, so Singapore no longer takes on the veneer of a ghost town, during Chinese New Year.
Now, if you're as curious as I am about what's going on in Biren's kitchen, click here to find out what Chinese New Year treat she has for you. I hope you enjoy these scrumptious cookies, as much as my family relished every single one of the three batches I made. For more seasonal treats to make your family smile, check out my recipes for Chinese Braised Peanuts and Sweet Potato Tang Yuan. Before I go, I'd like to wish all my lovely Chinese readers,
A Very Happy New Year
or as we say around here,
Gong Xi Fa Cai, Hong Bao Na Lai!
May this year's snake be venomless and vegan, with a sunny disposition. Yeah, go ahead, laugh. You're not a tasty, juicy goat, are you? I didn't think so....