Chinese Almond Cookies

Recipe by Hetty Lui McKinnon

This buttery, fragrant Chinese almond cookie recipe, while delicious at any time of year, is often made and shared during the Lunar New Year celebration. Symbolism plays an important role in the foods enjoyed during Chinese holidays, and these round cookies are thought to resemble coins and signify wealth. While recipes made with lard are usually very crispy, these are made with butter, yielding a soft inside with a crisp exterior, and recipe developer Hetty McKinnon toasts the almond flour, which deepens the almond flavor. 

Prep
20 mins
Bake
35 to 37 mins
Total
2 hrs 30 mins
Yield
18 cookies
Chinese Almond Cookies - select to zoom
Chinese Almond Cookies - select to zoom
Chinese Almond Cookies - select to zoom

Instructions

  1. To toast the almond flour: Heat a large skillet over medium-low heat. Add the almond flour and stir constantly until it turns golden and becomes fragrant, 4 to 6 minutes. Remove the toasted almond flour from the heat and immediately transfer it to a medium bowl (this stops it from burning).  

  2. To make the dough: To the bowl with the toasted almond flour, add the all-purpose (or gluten-free) flour, salt, and baking soda. Whisk together until well combined. Set aside.  

  3. In a large bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer, beat together the butter and sugar on low speed until smooth, about 2 minutes. Beat in the egg and almond extract until combined; the butter may look slightly curdled at this stage, and that is OK. 

  4. Add the dry ingredients to the butter mixture and stir until it forms a soft, sticky dough.  

  5. On plastic wrap or your favorite reusable wrap, form the dough into a roughly 8" x 8" square and wrap to seal. Refrigerate the dough until firm, about 2 hours. Do not skip this step; chilling the dough allows you to handle it successfully going forward. 

  6. To bake the cookies: Line two baking sheets with parchment or silicone liners. Remove the dough from the refrigerator and use a bowl scraper, bench knife, or a tablespoon scoop to divide it into 18 equal pieces (about 24g each). 

  7. Roll each piece of dough into a 1 to 1 1/2" ball and place all 18 dough balls onto one of the prepared baking sheets. (Arrange the cookies close together so that they fit on a single baking sheet, but aim to leave about 1" between the cookies, if possible; you’ll arrange them on two baking sheets before baking.) 

  8. Brush each dough ball with egg wash and place an almond in the center. Using the palm of your hand or the bottom of a drinking glass to flatten it to 3/4" thick (this keeps the almond in place). Place the baking sheet with the dough balls in the refrigerator, uncovered, for 10 to 15 minutes for the dough to firm up.    

  9. Preheat oven to 350°F with a rack in the center position.  

  10. Arrange 9 dough balls evenly on the other prepared baking sheet. Space out the remaining 9 dough balls and return the baking sheet to the refrigerator while you bake the first batch of cookies. 

  11. Bake the cookies for 17 to 18 minutes, or until the tops turn a light golden color. 

  12. Remove the cookies from the oven and let them cool for 5 minutes on the pan before transferring to a rack to cool completely.  

  13. Repeat with the second baking sheet of cookies. 

  14. Storage instructions: Store Chinese almond cookies in an airtight container at room temperature for up to a week. Freeze for longer storage.