I was lucky enough to visit Singapore earlier this month, where preparations for Chinese New Year were taking place.
Around every corner I turned I would see amazing decorations – some beautiful and elaborate, some loud and luminous – going up for Chinese New Year. It turns out that that 75% of the population of Singapore – which happens to be the second most densely populated sovereign state in the world – is of Chinese heritage.
It turns out that Chinese bakers in Singapore also have the most fantastical approach to cookies. The shelves were full of pretty jars of stamped pineapple-flavoured biscuits, embossed folded wafer cookies, and, at this time of year, hand-piped biscuits that look like dragons.
So here’s my recipe for those very dragon-shaped cookies – perfect for a bit of family fun over the Chinese New Year (just like making your own dim sum).
You’ll need a good strong piping bag, a supersized star-shaped nozzle, and biceps of steel! But go for it – get creative with the shapes and enjoy painting little eyes and faces on your edible dragons after baking. Most of all, enjoy the Chinese New Year celebrations!
- 150g soft vegetable margarine
- 150g icing sugar
- 2 egg yolks and one 1 egg white
- 30g milk powder or oval tine
- 60g plain flour
- Half a tsp vanilla essence
- 350g cornflour
- In a large mixing bowl, mix the margarine, icing sugar and eggs with a wooden spoon or silicon spatula if you have one, until a creamy smooth batter is formed. Mix for the least amount of time possible to avoid incorporating too much air.
- Add in the vanilla essence, milk powder and plain flour, and mix until combined.
- At this point, add in about ¾ of the cornflour and mix just until combined. Continue adding small amounts until you have solid, tough cookie dough.
- You’re looking for a cookie dough consistency that is extremely difficult to mix – the stiffer the consistency, the more definition you’ll get in the shape of your dragons.
- Pop a spoonful of dough into your piping bag with the large star nozzle attached, and test pipe one dragon shape (try an S shape with a slightly lifted end, for the ‘face’) and bake at 160 degrees for a few mins to check that the dragon holds its shape in the heat. If not, add more cornflour and try again –the right consistency takes some welly to pipe, but results in a nice spiky little dragon shape
- I find it helpful to reinforce the tip of my piping bag where the nozzle sits with sellotape, to ensure that the nozzle doesn’t pop out.
- Once you know you’ve got the right consistency, pipe away! Try some larger dragons and some baby ones, and alternate between really swirly shapes and more simple straight shapes with raised dragon faces.
- Bake for around 12 minutes at 160°C – when done, the cookies will just start to turn a little tiny bit brown around the edges.
Look here for more fabulous ideas for the New Year celebrations, or here for some great Chinese recipes.