I don’t know what was holding me back from making this Chinese New Year cookie. The last time I made an actual almond florentine with real sugar, with some cherries was in 2006. (ahem). It was also coated with tempered chocolate and it was OH SO YUM. But it was a pain to make because you need to control the thickness of the almond and caramel, your knife and pan has to be coated sufficiently with oil (not too much) and everything has to be cut into shape when its HOT. So you can imagine, 11 students running (well, not really running but rushing) to the monsterous 3 deck ovens to heat up the pan while not burning it. It was quite a thing then.
So then in the recent years when I actually had time and started to really make some cookies for Chinese New Year, I was determined to make almond florentine this year. I knew there was a pre-mix powder in the market to make this, but I’m not sure why after all these years, I didn’t use it. Year after year, my mom would say “Wah, this cookie getting more and more expensive. You know how to make this or not?” Then, I quickly make a trip to the baking ingredients shop and get a packet of almond slice and a packet of the German Almond Crisp (really ? The origin of florentine is actually from Florence, Italy; okay I’m not 100% sure on this but it seems quite accurate here.)
It’s easy to make, but there are some tricks to it. It is also versatile where you can add any other things you want, such as pumpkin seed, lotus or sunflower seed, puff rice, sesame seeds etc etc. The most important step is, actually to add salt. Salt is really important to enhance and lift the overall flavour of ANY sugar product.
Chinese New Year Cookie: Almond Florentine
- 100g Almond florentine (German Almond Crisp) powder
- 140g Almond flakes
- 30g Sunflower Seeds
- 1 tbsp black sesame seed
- 1 tbsp white sesame seed
- 1 tsp salt
- Preheat oven to 180 C. Line a 13" square baking tray with parchment paper.
- Toss almond florentine powder with salt.
- Sprinkle ⅓ of powder on the baking tray.
- Sprinkle almond flakes, sunflower seeds, black and white sesame seeds over the top, making sure to cover the entire baking tray. Try not to overlap too much.
- Sprinkle the remaining ⅔ powder on top and make sure you get to the corners.
- Use a spatula or metal smoother to flatten it. Then push florentine mix and almond slices slightly away from the edge of the pan with a spatula.
- Bake at 180 C for 8 minutes (might differ based on individual oven) or until golden brown.
- Remove from oven. Use a metal smoother (or fondant smoother wrapped with parchment paper) and press flat the baked florentine. Use a pizza cutter to slice the cookie, or use a knife to slice while it is still hot.
- Store in an airtight container for up to 1 month.
Tips on making Almond Florentine
1. Add salt into the florentine mix before sprinkling on a tray
2. Use a tray with low edges so it is easier to cut.
3. Get all your equipments (knife, pizza cutter, leveler (smoother) / something flat and straight and able to press down on) ready.
4. Sprinkle 1/3 of florentine mix, nuts and the remaining 2/3 of the mix over the top.
5. Use a spatula or metal smoother to push florentine mix and almond slices less than 5mm from the edges to get an overall straight edge.
6. Use a metal smoother to flatten the cooked almond florentine while cutting it to prevent breakages after it is cooled.
7. Do not leave the florentine mix exposed as it may turn lumpy due to the humidity that causes the sugar to melt.
It’s Never Too Early to Plan for Prosperity
Pineapple tarts are no strangers during festive seasons in Malaysia, be it Chinese New Year or Hari Raya Aidilfitri or even Deepavali. It is also a staple “to-buy” whenever you are in Melaka as they would use gula Melaka to cook the pineapple jam. Year in, year out, we see lots of variations of pineapple tarts; enclosed, open faced, nastar, squares, and oblong and cut to shape. The list could be endless to the types and recipes that comes along with Pineapple Tart when you google it. Recipes of pineapple tarts could also be a sharing topic whenever families or friends (or aunties in the morning market) come together to discuss about. But I can tell you, the greatness of a recipe can only be enhanced by good quality ingredients. When it comes to CNY cookies or any bakes at home, I don’t skimp on quality.
To usher in the Year of the Ram this Chinese New Year, SCS takes on the ambitious task of upgrading a familiar festival classic, the pineapple tart. For over a century, SCS has remained Singapore’s top-selling butter brand and has secured its position in refrigerators everywhere as the preferred premium butter brand that everyone wants to have in their cakes, cookies, pastries, and on their toast as they dash off for another good day at work.
Renowned for its premium quality, taste, and texture, SCS butter is the definition of au naturel, free of artificial colourings, additives, preservatives and hormones. Produced in Australia, SCS butter is made from 100% Australian dairy cows’ milk, where the cattle are allowed to graze freely in green pastures. Just as the Swiss are with their watches, the dairy farms that supply the milk used to produce SCS butter undergo a strict selection process to comply with Australia’s top-notch production standards, whereby random samples are taken from each production batch to ensure that the taste, aroma, texture, and colour are of a premium grade.
With improved standards of living and the rise of an epicurean generation, people return to quality that they recognise and trust. The flavour of SCS butter as it melts on the tongue is unforgettable and irreplaceable, much like how its simple yet distinctive aluminium wrapping with a blue star logo is a necessary sight on supermarket shelves. Their absence is unthinkable.
As such, SCS takes a step further by introducing eight newly developed pineapple tarts, complemented with a variety of flavours, to enhance and update a much beloved classic. These new varietals include Pineapple Cream Cheese, Pecan Pineapple, Berrylicious Pineapple, Chocolate Brownie Pineapple, Caramel Pineapple, Creamy Mango and Pineapple White Chocolate, Oatmeal Pineapple, and Green Tea Pineapple.
“It is a risk we happily partake,” comments Michelle Lim, Chief Creative Officer of SCS Butter Malaysia. “If we don’t take risks to venture into new frontiers previously unexplored by others, we lose out on the opportunity to discover something exciting and wonderful. We know we can make great pineapple tarts with SCS butter, so now let’s try to push the envelope further.”
Some of my favourite tarts are the Cream Cheese Pineapple Tart (where SCS Cream Cheese is mixed in with the pineapple jam), Chocolate Pineapple Tart, Pecan Crumble Pineapple Tart and Mango Pineapple.
Cream Cheese Pineapple Tart; Cream de la creme
Mango Pineapple Tart; Lady in White
Chocolate Pineapple Tart; Dark Desire
Pecan Crumble Pineapple Tart; Pecans Please
I was happy to take on this project. If you’re a blogger or media representative and have received a box with 8 types of pineapple tarts, they were baked by yours truly. Baking pineapple tarts are easy. BUT it takes a lot of time as each ball of filling and dough, is measured to precise measurement to ensure they are all uniformed. Not just pineapple tarts, I always weigh cookie dough before baking and don’t think this is a ‘close-one-eye’ step. Having different weighed dough on a tray, may yield different baking times in the oven, thus a different result in colour and taste.
Coming from a baker’s point of view, when making cookie, the woe is in handling the dough. Some dough can be quite soft to handle as you want to retain a high percentage of fat in the dough, to give a melt-in-the-mouth texture. If you are working with a hard dough, it could be of the high ratio of flour, thus making the tart dense and hard. So, when I was making these tarts, I realized that the butter, when soft, makes the dough soft as well, but still pliable and doesn’t stick on your hand. If you work on cheaper butter (or even margarine) (PS I worked with a margarine brand to make some cookies before), the dough is seriously a nightmare to handle. So this year, why not, try to use a good quality butter to make your cookies. If making pineapple tart is not your thing, make the German Crunch Cookie. The butter fragrant really shines though in this cookie.
Now I will remake some for Chinese New Year this year but with my homemade jam. Homemade jam + good butter, I’m pretty sure it will finish fast!!
Here’s a recipe of a Lady in White; Mango and Pineapple open faced tart. To make this, cook mango puree and pineapple jam till it is dry again. I’m thinking maybe you can also use passionfruit puree for that extra tang. Great when paired with white chocolate.
For more information, explore:
SCS’s official website: http://www.scsdairy.com
SCS’s Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/scsdairymalaysia
SCS’s YouTube channel: http://www.youtube.com/user/SCSDairy
APGL’s corporate website: http://www.auricgroup.com
Sorry I had been missing for about 2 months. One of my dog passed away in November and I really couldn’t bring myself to do anything. Emotionally I was very tired and I just needed some rest before I make a big drastic change in my career, (plus, my computer wasn’t working well). Hence, I wasn’t blogging. Anyways, 2015 is here and I’d like to wish you (sorry, a little late, but better late than never) a Happy New Year!
2014 has been good for me in terms of travelling, and I had also some good job opportunities. It ended on a sad note unfortunately but I look forward to 2015. This year, I will put focus on learning. So yes, more skills, more knowledge. (and also more travels of course, always)
Let’s start the year with a recipe. The much anticipated festive is just 5 weeks away and I’m not kidding, Chinese New Year songs are singing ablast in shopping malls, red and gold decorations are abundance and cookies are EVERYWHERE! Yup. it’s 5 weeks away and there are already tubs and tubs of cookies available for purchase. For me, I always try to bake some because I can be sure to use good ingredients and not skimp on quality ;). So now, I’m trying out some new recipes to add into the Chinese New Year Cookie repertoire.
German Crunch Cookies. I wish I can tell you why it is named so. Upon googling, I believed its origin is from this part of Asia, Malaysia or Singapore and not actually from Germany as most of the recipes are from local bloggers. It could maybe be similar to Uppåkra (A Swedish Butter Potato Cookie) that uses potato starch as well. But I can’t be sure if it is so as I have not taste or seen Uppåkra before. At first glance, it’s whitish appearance may trick you to believe it’s a modern version of kuih bangkit, but it is NOT. It’s more of a spinoff butter cookie that melts in your mouth. Maybe similar to a melting moment + shortbread.
This cookie uses potato starch and it is primarily the factor that gave it a very light texture and melts the moment you eat it. Don’t even bother substituting it with anything else if you wish to achieve the same texture and mouth-feel. The ingredients are simple and very easy to make. BUT I must say that the dough can be quite soft to handle. It’s soft, but it doesn’t stick onto your fingers. Also, as the butter content is quite high, you may not want to fiddle with the dough as much. Recipe is adapted here.
German Crunch Cookies
- 125g salted butter
- 40g icing sugar, sifted
- 125g potato starch
- 80g all-purpose flour
- Preheat oven to 165 C.
- Cream butter and icing sugar till light and fluffy.
- Sift in potato starch and flour into the butter. Cream to form a soft dough. If it is too soft to handle, add a little flour to it.
- Roll into small balls of 5-10g each. Arrange on a lined baking tray about 2 cm apart. Dip fork in water then press lightly on the ball to create a pattern. Continue till all dough is finished.
- Bake in preheated oven at 165 C (with fan) in the middle rack for 15 minutes.
- Once cooked, remove from oven and place on a cooling rack. Keep in an air-tight container.