Simple Chinese New Year Desserts

Just like main dishes, Chinese New Year desserts are also symbolic. Chinese almond cookies or rice cakes are packed with important meanings and may bring luck for the good year. Each of these treats symbolize togetherness and a rich life.

Chinese Almond Cookies
Ingredients You Will Need:
2 ¾ cups flour
1 cup white granulated sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
1 cup lard
1 jumbo egg
4 drops yellow food coloring
2 tablespoons almond extract
Sliced almonds

Mix the flour, sugar, soda and salt together in a bowl. Cut in the lard by using a pastry cutter. Once the dough has been separated into tiny bits, add the egg, food coloring and almond extract. Mix until well blended. Roll the dough into quarter-size balls.

Place the balls on a cookie sheet, allowing plenty of room for expansion between each ball. About 1 ½ to 2 inches should be sufficient. Pat the balls slightly with the back of a spatula, and then lay one almond slice on top. Press to secure the almond in the dough.

Bake for 15 minutes in an oven that has been preheated to 325 degrees Fahrenheit.

Note: Crisco can be used in place of lard, but the taste will not be authentic. The same goes for the food coloring. You don't need to add it, but without it the cookies will be missing that beautiful yellow shade that you'd find in a Chinese restaurant.

Rice Cakes
Ingredients You Will Need:
1 cup boiling water
¾ cup brown sugar
2 cups sticky rice flour
1 to 2 tablespoons milk
½ cup sticky rice flour (for dusting countertop)
½ cup sesame seeds
1 cup red bean paste

Equipment You Will Need:
Large bowl
Small saucepan
Metal steamer

Mix the boiling water and sugar together in a small saucepan, and stir until the sugar dissolves. Remove the saucepan from the heat, and set aside. Place the rice flour in the bowl, and make a well in the center. Slowly add the sugar water to the rice flour, mixing as you go. Add the milk, and blend well.

Dump the dough onto a surface that has been dusted with the remaining rice flour, and knead slightly. Spray both sides with non-stick vegetable oil, and place it into the steamer for 45 minutes. Do not open the steamer until the timer goes off.

Remove the rice from the steamer carefully. Divide it into smaller pieces, and press the dough into ramekins that have 1 tablespoon of sesame seeds already in them. To remove the cakes, invert each ramekin. Spread the red bean paste over the top of each cake, and serve.

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