The Chinese New Year, the Year of the Snake, begins February 10. If you are lucky enough to live near a large Chinese community, you can look for local celebrations and buy food from restaurants and bakeries. But if you are not able to get the real thing, you may want to get a tasted of it by cooking up a batch of these Moon cakes, which are often served during Chinese festivals. The ones you get in Chinese bakeries can be really elaborate, and while this recipe ends up with moon cakes that are more like cookies than what you’ll find in a traditional bakery, these are easy to make at home. If you make them for a book club meeting, you can mix up the dough before your group gets together, and then you can all take part in making the cakes. That way you can eat them warm out of the oven. You may also want to try your hand at making a snake. For instructions to make several kinds, head over to Danielle’s Place of Crafts and Activities.
Serves about 8
¼ cup granulated sugar
2 egg yolks
½ cup butter, softened
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup red bean paste (or your favorite jam if red bean paste is hard to find)
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.
In a large bowl, stir together butter, sugar and one egg yolk until well blended. Add the flour and fold in well until a firm dough is formed.
Pat dough into ball, wrap it in plastic and refrigerate for 30 minute.
Remove dough from refrigerator and pinch off balls about 1-1/2” in diameter. Roll each ball in your hands until round. Using your thumb, make an indentation in the center of each moon cake and fill it with red bean paste or jam.
Line up cakes on cookie sheet. Beat the second egg yolk and brush on the tops of the cakes. Bake for about 20 minutes, or until golden brown. (Check on progress after 15 minutes.)