The past few days we have been preparing for the new "year". So much about the chinese new year celebration is symbolic. As you prepare to welcome in the new year, you are to do so with a clean slate and optimism. Traditions like cleaning and decorating your home, purchasing new clothing, and eating lucky foods are a big part of welcoming the new year with positive energy.
To hold to tradition, we decorated our home with slightly tacky yet festive banners and new year signs. We have been taking on a number of organization projects that although they are small changes, have made a world of difference. Seriously, who knew I was living my life in such disorder? I have a new (to me) outfit ready for our celebrations, lucky treats prepared to bring us fortune and prosperity, and I have spent my time helping others, cleaning, and anticipating a fresh start. I wonder if that's a part of the allure of the lunar new year, as yet another point of time to re-focus and re-commit to life bettering goals.
During the Lunar new year, the types of foods eaten have great meaning. Foods that will bring luck, wealth, prosperity and happiness are meant to be eaten and given. Sometimes it's in the name, sometimes it's because of the flavor, and in the case of these little cookies, it's all about looks. These almond cookies are golden and shaped like coins, which is why they are so enjoyed. I have changed them a little, using whole grains and natural sweeteners. I even added a bit of chinese five spice powder to give them increased significance, as it is said to bring balance and harmony. It is a lovely cookie that is easily prepared and happily shared.
lunar new year almond cookies with five spice powder
adapted from this almond butter cookie recipe from gourmet
1/4 cup wheat germ
1/2 cup whole wheat pastry flour
1/2 cup almond meal
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
a hearty pinch salt
1/3 cup butter
1/4 cup sucanat or brown sugar
1/4 cup natural cane sugar
1 Tablespoon maple syrup
1/2 - 1 teaspoon chinese five spice powder
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
raw sugar, to sprinkle
halved almonds, enough for one half to each cookie
Sift together wheat germ, pastry flour, almond meal, baking soda and salt.
In a mixer cream together the butter and sugars, then add remaining ingredients mixing until just combined. Roll into a round log with about a 2 inch girth, wrap with parchment paper, and refrigerate for a few hours or until firm.
Slice the dough into 1/4 inch thick slices, place half an almond in the center, then sprinkle with a pinch of raw sugar.
Bake on a greased or parchment lined cookie sheet for 12 - 15 minutes, until golden. Carefully remove from the baking sheet and cool on a cookie rack.
yield: about 1 1/2 dozen
- keep the dough that is waiting to be sliced refrigerated, or slice all the dough at once, then keep the cookies waiting to be baked in the ice-box (i cut the cookies while rotating it so the log doesn't squash by the end)
- if you like crispier cookies, slice them 1/8 inch thick and decrease baking time by 2 minutes or so.
- you can substitute the wheat germ and whole wheat flour with 1/2 cup all purpose flour. Be sure to test bake a cookie to see if you need to add a Tablespoon or two of flour. If they come out super flat, you will need more flour.