Thursday 10 March 2011

Cookies for Grandma: Traditional Chinese New Year Peanut Cookies

Is it just me or is 24 hours in one day is far too little?   30 or 35 hours would be more like it.

Dear big man upstairs, for my next Christmas prez I would really really like just a couple more hours a day, if it's not too much trouble.  Thanks big fella. 

For the last couple of months the days have just flown by so fast I find that we are suddenly in March and I swear new years was only about a week ago.  Where on earth did February go?

Chinese New Year fell at the beginning of February this year, right smack bang in the middle of the intense craziness, one week before I moved down south.  We had Grandma over for dinner and I had meant to make some Traditional Chinese New Year Peanut Cookies, which as the name suggests, are peanut cookies made and served traditionally at Chinese New Year.

But in amongst packing and organising and general mayhem, the cookies fell through the gap and even though I had all the ingredients ready and the recipe all sussed out, I didn't end up making them in time for the dinner.

Grandma did come over for dinner though: we had amazing scampi sashimi, steamed tofu with ginger and spring onions, pan fried snapper and stir-fried kang kong.  I love cooking for my Grandma - there is just something incredibly wonderful about cooking for someone who has cooked all her life, who taught my Dad to cook who in turn taught me to cook.

I ended up making the cookies a couple of days later, fully intending to get some to Grandma before my big move but again just got too busy and I never got that package of cookies to her.

My Grandma passed away at the end of last week.  After a sudden and completely unexpected stroke.

I won't get the chance to give her cookies again.  Being down in Dunedin, I didn't get a chance to say goodbye before she slipped away. It's really hit me rather hard.  Another suckerpunch.  Grandma was the only grandparent I've ever known and it's incredibly sad to think of all her stories, her recipes, her hopes and dreams that we never got a chance to ask her about.

I think from now on, I'll make sure to take time out to breathe and bake cookies.

Now these peanut cookies in particular actually ended up taking no time to make.  They are seriously deliciously peanutty - perfect for utter peanut butter nutters. Basically a cookie made of ground up roasted peanuts and a little peanut butter.  YUM!

Traditionally you roast the peanuts in a wok stirring continuously for 10 minutes but I went the lazy route and roasted them in the oven.

Unfortunately I had a bit of a roasting fail and the peanuts got a little over roasted resulting in very tanned looking and slightly smoky tasting cookies.

I'm pretty sure I also didn't process the peanuts enough so the texture was a fair bit coarser than the ones you buy in the shops.  But boy oh boy did they deliver on flavour.  So nutty! So crumbly! And not to mention so easy to throw together.

I'm going to make these cookies every Chinese New Year from now on and every time I make them I'm going to think about my Grandma and the importance of taking time out to bake a batch of cookies.

Rest in peace, Mar Mar.
But for your hard work and immense sacrifices,
we would not be the people we are today.
We love you and miss you and will always be grateful for everything you have done for us.

CNY Peanut Cookies

Tweaked from a recipe at Dodol & Mochi

600g raw skinless peanuts
~100g roasted skinless peanut halves for decoration
350g caster sugar
375g flour, sifted
1/2 tsp salt
1 Tbsp butter
3 Tbsp peanut butter
~ 1 cup oil (flavourless like canola oil)
1 egg lightly beaten with pinch of salt

1. Roast all the peanuts on a baking sheet in the oven at 180oC for 10 mins, stirring halfway through.

2.  Grind 600g of the peanuts up in a coffee grinder/food processor with around 3 tablespoons of the sugar till the mixture resembles crumbs.  Pour into a large bowl and mix in the rest of the sugar.

3.  Melt the butter and peanut butter in the microwave in 15 second bursts.  Add to the peanut and sugar mixture and mix in. 

4.  Stir in flour and salt till thoroughly mixed.

5.  Add the oil and stir through until the mixture forms dough - if it is too sticky add a little more flour, if too crumbly add a little more oil.

6.  Roll into walnut sized balls and flatten slightly.  Press a peanut half into the middle of the cookie.  Make an egg wash by lightly beating the egg with a pinch of salt.  Brush with the salted egg wash over the cookie.

7. Bake at 180oC for 20 minutes.  Let the cookies cool on the tray for 5 minutes before cooling completely on a wire rack.  Store in an airtight container.  Will keep for up to 2 weeks in an airtight container.


  1. Oh I'm so sorry. My thoughts are with you and your family.

    And yes, hope you alwyas get to take time out for making cookies.

  2. Oh Sorry, my condolences to your family.

  3. Ness, what a beautiful post. I am sure Ma Ma is really pround of who you are today and who you are going to become! As for her stories, I am sure my Dad and uncle 4 can tell you :)

  4. Sorry to hear about your Nana. You really are having a bad run of tragedies at the moment, you poor thing. Those cookies look delicious, though!

  5. Sorry for your loss. I am sure somewhere your Grandma is smilig over those beautiful cookies.

  6. Sorry about the loss Ness, may her soul rest in peace, i'm sure she will be proud of you and watching over you and ur delish cookies.

  7. Thank you so much everyone for your lovely messages. I can feel the love through my wee blog and it's really kept me going in the last couple of weeks. Love right back at you all xox

  8. Just found your blog - love it! I always get so excited when I find another Kiwi blogger. Sorry for the loss of your Ma Ma. I'm sure she would've loved our peanut cookies! Drop in for a visit at my blog when you get a moment - would love to get some feedback from a fellow Kiwi foodie! :) []

  9. Oh Nessie - was just dropping by your Blog, as I occassionally viacriously through your foodie journeys from someone who doesn't cook! (love reading your posts and seeing your awesome pics - what kind of camera do you use?...your food looks soooo good!)...but so sad to hear of your loss - hope you're doing okay now, am sure you have had lots of love and support around you and your family but still wanted to pass on my belated condolences. I am sure she would be very proud of you and now you have some very special people watching over you from above - so keep living and loving life! All the best for your up coming wedding too! Jade xox

  10. Very precious one. I love lot making baking cookies. I loved it lot. Thanks for sharing good info with us.

  11. Shirleen: Hello fellow kiwi blogger!! Having a quite drool looking at all your delish recipes!! Love the blog xox

    Jade: Aw thanks so much for your lovely comment! I love trawling through food blogs too...addictive! I have a Canon 450D and usually use my 50mm f1.8 lens. Am doing ok...we just had some more bad family news which is super stink but that is life huh? Hope all is well with you and thanks so much for stopping by xox

    Tates: I can definitely relate to loving baking cookies - its so rewarding? I'm a total cookie monster too :)



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