Gong hei fat choy!
As a kid, the wafting smell of roasted peanuts and the whirring of the food processor meant one thing. Peanut biscuits.
My grandma would pull up a chair, hand me a chopstick, and I’d watch with awe as she mixed together sandy-looking ground peanuts, plain flour, sugar, oil and salt into a pliable dough. It was always even better than play dough.
Together, we’d roll small balls of the soft dough between our palms, placing them on baking trays lined with greasproof paper.
Then, wielding my chopstick, I would gleefully prod belly buttons into each plump biscuit, leaving a perfect circle in the centre of each sweet morsel.
Most families get together for a ‘reunion dinner’ on the eve of the lunar new year.
Being big fans of homophones, many of the foods eaten and shared friends and family are symbolic – presented and eaten to ensure prosperity and good fortune in the year ahead.
From left: The perfect sandy texture.
You’ll know the mix is perfect when it looks like this.
Recipe via Billy, A Table For Two!
Makes about 30 – 40 biscuits
- 300g peanuts, fried/roasted and ground until fine
- 200g castor sugar
- 250g plain flour
- about 200ml of canola oil (or other neutral flavoured oil)
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 egg beaten, for glazing
- Preheat the oven to 200°C and lay out 2 baking sheets with baking paper.
- Roast the peanuts by frying them in a frying pan (dry, no oil). Grind the roasted peanuts till fine in a food processor. They’ll need to be quite sandy in texture – it’ll look clumpy in the bowl of the mixer, but don’t worry.
- Place ground peanuts in a large mixing bowl with the flour, salt and sugar. Mix together until well combined and lump free.
- Drizzle half of the oil into the bowl and combine the mixture with a clean hand, kneading gently.
- Keep adding a little more oil at a time. You’ll need to keep kneading to ensure the sugar melts and that the mix is soft and pliable, but firm enough that it doesn’t stick to your hands.
- The mix is ready when you can roll the dough into smooth balls that don’t crack. If your mix is still too dry, add a little more oil and mix again.
- Take a heaped teaspoonfuls of the mix and roll into small balls. Place on baking sheets. of the mixture into your palm, and roll them into small balls. Place them on the baking sheets.
- Take a chopstick, poke a ‘belly button’ into each biscuit, and glaze with beaten egg.
- Bake for about 15 minutes or until golden brown.
Use a chopstick to create a ‘belly button’ indent in each biscuit.
These golden biscuits are probably supposed to resemble gold ingots, or oranges. Or so I assume, as I’ve read that the word for oranges also sounds like the word fortune in Chinese. And I think adding the chopstick action kind of makes these look like mini-navel oranges…sort of.
My grandma always used to make dozens and dozens of these every year for Chinese New Year, ready for visiting friends and family, neighbours and greedy grandchildren (that’s me).
They’re delicious with a cup of tea, and good at any time of year.