For this week’s dessert, I decided to have a go at some Chinese New Year inspired snacks, in preparation for the coming Year of the Horse on the 31st January. It might sound like an odd activity for Australia Day, but I’d argue that an Australian girl of Burmese-English heritage cooking desserts to impress her Chinese in-laws whilst drinking beer and listening to the Triple J Hottest 100 is a good example of modern multicultural Australia!
My family doesn’t celebrate Chinese New Year, but during the several years that I did kung fu my school would spend the two week period travelling between temples and Chinese restaurants, performing lion dances for a prosperous new year. My favourite snack that seemed to be quite prevalent at this time of year is a peanut brittle, sometimes with sesame seeds, made with a clear, glass-like toffee rather than the cloudy, bubbly look of Western style brittle. In between performances I’d scoff heaps of the stuff as we rode in the van, squished between drums, lion heads and swords. To be honest I was always a terrible martial artist, but those were good times.
For the peanut sesame brittle, I began by toasting up some peanuts, black sesame seeds and white sesame seeds, then spreading them in a baking paper lined tray.
Making candy always makes me nervous – the sweet spot for the ‘hard crack’ state required for the brittle is between 149˚ and 155˚C, and leaving it later can mean ending up with a black sticky mess. I used a thermometer and chickened out at what I thought was 150˚C, but Levitra Online as the end result didn’t have that perfect snap that I love I think it must have been too soon!
After pouring the toffee over the peanuts and sesame seeds, I added more to the top an let it sit for a few minutes before cutting into rectangles and leaving to set.
This was sadly a bit of a miss – the toffee didn’t set completely hard, which meant instead of a delightful crunch it just kind of sticks to your teeth. I’m sure that the heat and humidity of the day didn’t help, but I think that the culprit is not waiting long enough for the sugar to get to the right temperature. You defeated me this time toffee, but I will come back to you someday!
The almond cookies were very simple to make – just chuck everything together and shape into cookies, exactly my kind of recipe! I pressed a whole almond onto the top and dabbed on a bit of egg yolk as a glaze.
The cookies are dense, crumbly and very more-ish, perfect with a cup of tea.
The sesame crisps ended up my favourite of the lot, and the favourite of my in-laws too. Pretty much another case of mixing everything together, the hard part came with spreading the mixture into round, flat and very thin discs. I think next time I’ll take the easier route of rolling the mixture between two sheets of baking paper with a rolling pin.
I was worried that the crisps would break and not come off the foil easily, but was surprised to see them coming off beautifully, if not completely flat. These sesame crisps are all about the nutty flavour of sesame and that lovely crunch, with just a small amount of sweetness.