Chinese New Year is coming in a week! Most Chinese families will cook up a storm for this great season. Chinese people also have a tradition of visiting their relatives and friends during Chinese New Year. It’s called 拜年 (bai nian), literally means visitations in new year. My parents liked to bring some butter cookies when doing visitations. In Hong Kong, butter cookies are one of the popular snacks in this festive time.
These cookies are very crispy and buttery with beautiful patterns. When it comes to baking butter cookies, we might experience that it’s not easy to keep the good-looking pattern of cookies because the batter would flatten wide after heating up in oven. Well, there’s a secret behind, I share later on, for baking cookies with your preferred brilliant patterns.
- 200 gm cake flour
- 130 gm melted butter
- 35 gm caster sugar
- 65 gm icing sugar
- 1 egg, whisked, about 50 gm
- 1/4 tsp vanilla essence
- Preheat oven to 190C (375F).
- Cut butter into cubes and allow to soften at room temperature. If time is limited, here is a quickest way to soften butter. Melt butter in microwave at high-medium power for 10 seconds or so, then transfer to freezer for a few minutes. When the butter begins to be frozen again and thickens, it’s ready to use. If not, put it back to freezer for more minutes.
- Cream butter with an electric mixer over medium speed until smooth (picture 1). Add caster sugar and icing sugar, continue to cream until fluffy (picture 2).
- Add one-third of the whisked egg into the butter mixture at a time (picture 3). Stir and combine well between adding egg each time, the volume increases and colour lightens (picture 4).
- Stir in vanilla essence and combine well.
- Sift flour into the egg mixture (picture 5). Use a spatula to combine all ingredients (picture 6). Don’t over stir, just incorporate the flour into the mixture. Transfer the batter into an icing bag (picture 7). Pipe the batter on a lined baking tray with baking paper, in 1.5-inch (3.8 cm) circles, that’s about 1 tablespoon each of batter, evenly spaced 1.5-inch apart (picture 8). Bake in the preheated oven for 10 to 13 minutes, or until golden brown. Let cool on a wire rack completely. Store in an air-tight container.
- The magic ingredients in this recipe are both caster sugar and icing sugar. Two kinds of sugar will work together, producing the perfect balance of delicate, crispy texture, and keeping the pattern well in shape after baking. If you only use icing sugar, the cookies won’t be crispy as you expect. Without using the icing sugar, the original pattern of cookies that you pipe out wouldn’t be kept so clear and beautiful. (Note: icing sugar is a super fine, powdered form of sugar.)
- The baking time of cookies is quite short at high temperature. Don’t leave them unattended, especially for the last few minutes because you don’t want them burnt.
- When the colour turns to the point a bit lighter than you prefer, then you can remove the cookies from oven. The cookies will get a bit darker after a while. Well, practice makes things perfect. After some trials, you’ll bake cookies with perfect colour to your liking.