Happy Chinese New Year everyone!
Now, I never knew that Chinese New Year was even a thing until a year ago. I’m a pretty boring and uncultured white girl who loves Egg Rolls because they are vegetables wrapped in fried crunchy carbs and Orange chicken from Panda Express. The extent of my Asian culture experience is pretty limited. Last year, however, I was working as a receptionist/dental assistant for a dentist who had a large number of Chinese patients and I was able to talk to them about this big holiday. I had no idea that Chinese New Year was such a huge event!
Families get together for the entire day (even several days) and eat food, celebrate, exchange gifts, watch parades, and generally throw a party. It was really wonderful to be able to learn about the holiday from the patients I interacted with. Several of them even snuck me a little red envelope filled with chocolate gold coins or a five dollar bill (which I thought was the sweetest thing in the world) and wished me luck for the new year. I think that’s so generous and neat for a culture to do. We should all bless each other more, don’t you think?
So even though I am not working for Dr. Tran anymore I thought I would give a little shout out to the Chinese New Year and make some Five Spice Almond Sugar Cookies. Just a humble nod to those little red envelopes and the kind people who hand them out every year. Believe me, kind red envelope deliverers, you are making your dental receptionists, teachers, postal office workers, and friends days so much better by wishing them luck. Keep being you.
These cookies are so delicious, I can’t eat just one. I always end up grabbing another one (or two) after I lick the red sugar sparkles off of my fingers. They have a little crunch on the outside from the decorators sugar, but are chewy and soft like a bakery cookie. When you first take a bite it seems like a pretty typical (albeit tasty) sugar cookie. But after the second bite you can taste the sweet almond flavor and the unique hint of the Chinese Five Spice powder.
Five Spice is such a cool thing to have on hand. I end up tossing it into so many things and it really enhances a lot of dishes. Usually the five spices are Anise, Clove, Cinnamon, Pepper, and Fennel. You can use it as a spice rub for pork or chicken, add it to your stir fry sauce, mix it into your breading for fried foods, or scoop a bit into your cookies. 😉 The colored sugar is optional for these, of course. Also you can substitute regular sugar or take a teaspoonof Five Spice powder mixed into white sugar to give them a spicier oomf if you like.
- 1½ cups flour
- ½ teaspoon baking soda
- 8 tablespoons (1 stick) butter
- 1 cup sugar
- 1 egg
- 1 teaspoon almond extract
- 1 tablespoon Chinese five spice powder
- ¼ cup red decorator sugar (optional)
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
- In a large mixing bowl, beat softened butter and sugar until fluffy and pale.
- Add the egg and almond extract and beat on medium until mixed thoroughly.
- Add the flour, baking soda, and five spice powder beat until a dough is formed.
- Roll the dough into 1 inch balls and then roll in decorators sugar. Place onto a baking sheet about two inches apart. Squish the cookie balls down slightly with the flat palm of your hand.
- Bake on the middle rack of the oven 8 minutes. Do not over bake, they will lose their chewiness.
- Remove cookies to a cooling rack. Eat them as soon as you can without burning the roof of your mouth. 😉