One of my friends is running an "inverse sweepstake" for the Olympics. The idea is that you don't have to put in any money to participate, but there are also no prizes - just penalties. Luckily for me, the penalties involve baking, so I was happy to sign up.
Each person is allocated a country (I drew China), and penalty events might occur at any time throughout the Olympics, including:
- a competitor from your country setting a world record
- your country taking bronze, silver, and gold in the same event
- Mayor of London Boris Johnson insulting your country (during the Olympics)
- a competitor from your country failing a drugs test
Since my country is China, I decided I wanted to make things more interesting (read: harder for myself) and bake Chinese treats. These almond cookies are light and crumbly, and make a nice change from my usual baking.
Chinese Almond Cookie Recipe
350g (2 cups) plain flour
½tsp baking powder
½tsp bicarbonate of soda
a pinch of salt
240g (1 cup, 2 US sticks) butter
200g (¾cup) white sugar
2½tsp almond essence
40 whole almonds
- Mix the flour, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda, and salt in a large bowl (sift if necessary to remove any lumps).
- Cream the butter and sugar together in a separate bowl.
- Add the egg and almond essence to the butter and sugar, and beat to form a homogeneous mixture.
- Combine with the flour to form a soft dough, press it together with your fingers, and refrigerate for at least an hour.
- Preheat the oven to 160°C (320°F) before shaping the cookies.
- Form the dough into small balls, about the size of a walnut (in its shell).
- Roll each ball between your palms to make a smooth sphere.
- Space the balls out on a baking sheet, about ten to a sheet (they will spread to double or three times their original size, so leave plenty of space)
- Press an almond into the top of each ball, and flatten (to about 1cm thick) with the palm of your hand.
- Brush the top of each cookie with a little milk.
- Bake for 15 minutes, then cool on the trays for a couple of minutes before gently transferring to a wire rack.