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German Cookies with Black Sesame Seeds 德國酥餅(黑芝麻口味)

Today is Chinese New Year’s Eve, it is the day every Chinese household cook up a storm, starting early in the morning~ in my family back in Malaysia, we will be busy cooking foods to offer to our ancestors in the other world, and  this usually happen around lunch time. By the evening, we will be busy making the most important meal of the year– reunion dinner. Family members will always rush home from around the places to join the table. If you are not familiar with Chinese culture, let me tell you: Reunion dinner is a FEAST not to miss!Fish, shellfish, soup, pork, chicken, duck, veggie are usually on the menu. Oh how I wish we could join the dinner with my family on the other side of the planet… I have my feast too spreading out on my dining table here at home, but the feeling is not the same.

Anyhow, back to the cookies. This is another new cookie recipe I tried this year for my Chinese New Year bake, and I don’t really know why it is called German Cookies. Maybe it is similar to one of the Christmas cookies German make for the holiday?… Anyway, one interesting ingredient to this cookies is potato starch, which I believe is the key to these very light, airy and melt-in-your-mouth cookies. Not only is the recipe super easy and fun to make with little kids, the cookie dough freezes well too.

Some people make their version with a marble look(chocolate and original flavor), doggy look (by using some cereal to make doggy face). Others use poppy seeds. This time, I used black sesame seeds so the cookies don’t look so plain and pale, plus I like the nutty flavor of toasted black seeds. Green tea or earl grey will be good choice for a different look and flavor as well.

German Cookies with Black Sesame Seeds 德國酥餅(黑芝麻口味)– makes about 50-60 pieces

Ingredients:

2 cups flour
1 1/2 cups potato starch– “Windmill” brand preferred
2 tbsp dry milk powder
2 sticks (4oz each) unsalted butter– soften
3/4 cup powder sugar
2 tbsp black sesame seeds– toasted

Method:

  1. Combine flour, potato starch and milk powder together in a bowl.
  2. Put butter in a separate bowl. The butter must be very soft but not melted; microwave for a few seconds if needed. Add powder sugar and mix well. Add in sesame seeds to mix well again.
  3. Sift flour mixture into butter, mix to form a soft dough that is not sticky to the hands. If the dough is too soft, refregerate for 10-15 minutes.
  4. Take a small piece of dough and roll into a ball of 1-inch size. Repeat until all the dough is used.
  5. Place each ball one a large baking pan, about 1 inch apart. Press each ball down slowly with a fork to make a pattern. Bake at preheated 325F oven for 15-20 minutes, or until the edge is slightly brown. Cool completely then store in air tight container.

Regina’s Note:

  • Freezing cookie dough: roll up dough to a log shape and wrap in parchment paper followed by plastic wrap. Place in air tight bag.
  • To toast sesame seeds: toast in dry clean pan on the stove on medium low heat, stirring at all time until the seeds puff up a little and sesame flavor starts to come out. Cool before use.
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German Cookies with Black Sesame Seeds 德國酥餅(黑芝麻口味)– before baking

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Potato starch– Windmill Brand

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Hazelnut Chocolate Mini Cuppies

With Chinese New Year getting closer and closer, I have been baking like crazy~ pretty much bake one type of cookies a day on top of my normal busy routine around the house. These hazelnut chocolate mini cuppies are new cookies that I tried making this year. I love hazelnut, and chocolate makes it even better! This is a very simple recipe that produce yummy cookies. From my previous trip back to Malaysia, I brought with me these mini baking cup liners which is perfect for these cookies. For those who are not familiar with Chinese New Year cookies (a New Year tradition among Malaysian and Singapore Chinese), they are usually made in bite size and have a delicate look. If you are making these cookies, go elegant with the look~ make the cookies small and pretty just like from a chocolate shop. It worth the efforts.

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Hazelnut Chocolate Mini Cuppies

Hazelnut Chocolate Mini Cuppies (makes 120- 140 mini cuppies)

Ingredients:

2 cups flour
1 toasted hazelnut– ground
1/4 tsp salt
2 sticks (4oz each) unsalted butter– room temperature
3/4 cup powdered sugar

Chocolate sauce (whisk to melt in a double boiler, over medium low heat, cool slightly):
1 lb bittersweet chocolate chips (about 1.5 bag (10oz each)
1 stick unsalted butter– cut into pieces

Topping:
1/3 cup toasted hazelnut– skin-off preferred, finely chopped

Method:

  1. Combine flour, ground hazelnut, powdered sugar and salt in a bowl.
  2. Place butter in a separate large bowl, gradually pour in flour mixture while using fingers to rub in butter, until it forms a dough and doesn’t stick to hands. If the dough is too soft to handle, refrigerate for 10-15 minutes.
  3. Divide dough into small pieces (about 8g each) and roll each piece into a balls, about size of a marble ball. Place each ball in the baking cup and press down with your thumb or finger to form a disc.
  4. Bake at preheated 325F oven for 15-18 minutes or until the top is slightly brown.
  5. When the cookies are cooled completely, carefully cover the top with about 1/2 tsp of chocolate sauce. Sprinkle some chopped toasted hazelnut on the top. When the chocolate is set, store in air tight container.

Regina’s Note:

  • Chocolate sauce: if the chocolate cools down and thicken, just warm it up again over a low heat simmering pot.
  • Freezing cookie dough: to freeze cookie dough, wrap tightly in a parchment paper (shape like a sushi roll), then wrap in plastic wrap and inside an air tight bag.
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Hazelnut Chocolate Mini Cuppies

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Besides stained glass cookies, this is another new cookie I baked this year for Christmas. I got the recipe from Just A Pinch Recipes. It’s quite simple, although I needed to add about 1/2 to 1 cup more flour because the dough was just too wet and sticky. I think the reason might be that I cheated on softening the butter– I use the quick microwave way to soften, and I warmed it up a bit too long. Anyway, lesson learned…

Some thumbprint cookie recipes suggest filling the jam on top of unbaked cookie dough, while others say add the jam after the cookies are baked. Well, I did the hybrid part– baked cookies, added jam, and baked for a few more minutes. I did this because I was hoping the extra baking time will dry out the jam a bit more, so the jam filling won’t be as thin runny and more on the thick sticky side. The results: No much difference. The main thing is the jam itself– I used pineapple preserve and raspberry jam. After final baking, while pineapple jam was still thick and nice in the thumbprint area, the raspberry jam was starting to overflow the edge of the cookies (it gave a smooth touch on the jam surface though). If you want a crunchier cookie texture, I suggest you bake the cookies and store in airtight container. Only add in the jam on the day of serving (you can add jam and bake a few more minutes if desired). Once the jam is filled, it will soften the cookies over time.

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Thumbprint Cookies– Baked, waiting to be filled with jam.

Thumbprint Cookies Recipe (adapted from Just A Pinch. Makes about 30 cookies)

Ingredients:
1/2 cup (1 stick, 4 oz) unsalted butter– softened
1/3 cup sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 egg, separated
1 1/2 cup flour– add more later if needed
4 tbsp dry whole milk powder
1/4 tsp salt
3/4 cup chopped toasted hazelnuts

Method:

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Line a large baking pan with parchment. Combine flour, milk powder and salt.
  2. Cream butter with a hand mixer. Add sugar and cream until it’s fluffy. Mix in vanilla completely, then mix in egg yolk blend well.
  3. Use a spatula to mix in flour mixture, in a stir-and press motion, until the it forms a dough. Roll the dough into thin long log of 1 inch diameter. Cut into pieces and roll each piece into a 1 inch diameter ball.
  4. Whisk egg white in a bowl until it gets frothy. Place chopped hazelnut in a separate bowl.
  5. Dip each dough ball into egg white, then roll it in chopped hazelnut to cover completely. Place the dough on baking pan, about 2 inches apart. Use your thumb to press down the ball to make a deep indentation.
  6. Bake for 15-18 minutes. Remove from the oven but maintain oven temperature. If the cookies lost its indentation then press down further with a spoon to make indentation deeper (do it while the cookies are still hot).
  7. Place about 1/2 tsp of jam onto the indentation. Bake for another 5 minutes. Remove from the oven and cool on a rack. When cookies are cooled completely, store in air tight container, adding parchment paper between each layer to prevent jam sticking together.

Regina’s Note:

  • Besides chopped nuts, you can also roll cookies in shred coconuts, sugar or simply none at all.
  • Don’t be limited by sweet jams. Jalapeno jam, cream cheese (flavored or plain) can also be used to create different flavors. Be adventurous!
  • For crunchier thumbprint cookies, just bake the cookies itself without jam and store in air tight container. Only fill in the jam on the day of serving.
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Thumbprint Cookies– I added some chili powder to some pineapple jam filled thumbprint cookies… looking for a sweet and spicy taste.

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Thumbprint Cookies– I used pineapple jam and raspberry jam for the filling.

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