China: Hang Geen Beng

Very few cattle are raised in China, so dairy products such as milk, cheese and butter are hard to come by and rarely used in traditional Chinese dishes. They do raise pigs and so they generally will use the pork fat or lard as a substitute for the butter. As a matter of fact, pork is so prevalent in the Chinese cuisine that it is commonly referred to as simply "meat".

Hang Geen Beng (hahng geen bee-EHNG), traditional Chinese Almond Cookies, are a traditional treat found in bakeries across China as well as Chinese restaurants around the globe. Like many Chinese dishes, these crisp, tasty treats do use lard. You can substitute vegetable shortening, but the the taste won't be nearly the same. Many people also use butter in this recipe. Cookies made with butter tend to not be as crisp as those made with lard or shortening, and the crispness of these cookies is what makes them so good. (I've also seen these called Hang Yen Bang. Beats me who's right!)

Hang Geen Beng (Chinese Almond Cookies)

2-1/2 cups flour
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp baking powder
1 cup sugar
1 cup lard (or vegetable shortening)
1 egg, lightly beaten
1 tsp almond extract
1 tbs cold water
4 dozen whole, blanched almonds

1 egg yolk
1 tbs water

Sift the first four ingredients together into a large bowl. Cut the lard (or vegetable shortening) in with a pastry blender, or rub it between your fingers until the mix is very crumbly.

In a small bowl, combine the beaten egg with the almond extract. Add the egg mixture to the dry ingredients and combine. Add in the tablespoon of cold water and use your hands to quickly form a firm ball of dough. Cover in plastic wrap and chill in the refrigerator for at least one hour.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease baking sheets.

Remove dough from refrigerator and form into 1-1/2 inch balls. Place the dough balls on baking sheets and flatten gently with the bottom of a glass. Press one whole almond into the center of each cookie.

For the glaze, mix one egg yolk with one tablespoon of water. Using a pastry brush, brush some of the glaze over each cookie.

Bake approximately 12 minutes or until the cookies are very lightly browned. Remove from oven and baking sheets and cool in wire racks.

Yield: 4 dozen


Julie said...

I have always loved chinese almond cookies but have never made them myself,thank you for the recipe.

Mansi Desai said...

I love these, they are so so pretty! btw Lisa, I'm hosting AFAM-Peach/Nectarine event on my blog this month, and I know you usually just write about cookies, but If you have a nice recipe with peaches that u'd like to share, pls participate in my event. YOu can meet a lot of fellow bloggers there and also get a link to your post:)
check details on my AFAM-Peach logo on the right corner..


Butters and Johnnycakes said...

Awesome concept! I love your blog.

marye said...

those look great!

Anonymous said...

We lived next door to a Chinese family for awhile, and they were always making these cookies. They quickly became my daughter's favorite, and are surprisingly easy to make.

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Anonymous said...

As a kid in UK, my Mum always made these biscuits for us. I had forgotten all about them until seeing the piccie of them. I shall definitely be making these! Ah, memories of a wonderful childhood in a kitchen always filled with beautiful cooking smells!

Thank you for sharing this wonderful recipe.

Lisa Kendrick said...

What a fun blog! Cookies are my all-time favorite dessert. I'll be visiting often! =)

Chef Mom said...

Thanks all!

Mansi desai: I've unfortunately been absent from my bog for about a month. But I'm back! Let me know when you host your next event!

Anonymous said...

I am chinese, The Hang Yen Bang is pronounced in Cantonese.

Usually we ate Taw-Su (without almond) in childhood.