The almond has an interesting history in China. The sweet almond was already in cultivation in the late Tang dynasty (AD 618-906), having been brought to China from Russian Turkestan and central Asia.
The bitter almond is a local nut, which is actually the kernel of the native apricot. It is used extensively in Chinese herbal medicine for respiratory dysfunctions and is also added in carefully prescribed quantity (because of its slightly toxic properties in its raw state and its strong bitter taste) to "superior" soups such as double-boiled quail and ginseng soup.
In desserts, it is often ground and combined with milk. The technique of baking, as in the following recipe, is borrowed from the West.
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar
- 3/4 cup packed soft brown sugar
- 1/2 cup margarine or butter, softened
- 1 egg
- 1/2 teaspoon almond extract
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
- Sesame seeds
- 24 blanched almonds (halves)
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Cream the sugars with the margarine. Add the egg and almond extract and beat until fluffy.
Sift the flour and baking powder together and fold into the mixture a little at a time. Beat lightly to make a smooth dough. Do not overmix or the cookies will be hard.
Shape the dough into balls the size of a walnut. Dip the tops of the cookies into the sesame seeds. (You may need to slightly dampen the top of each with a little water.) Lightly press half an almond into the center and flatten a little.
Place the cookies about 1 inch apart. Bake for 8-10 minutes until golden brown. Store in airtight containers.
Recipe reprinted by permission of Weldon Russell. All rights reserved.
nutrition information per serving
166 calories; 10g total fat; 9mg cholesterol; 99mg sodium; 18g carbohydrates; 1g fiber; 2g protein
These nutrition facts are calculated according to the ingredients listed in this recipe. Any substitutions will change these facts. Although we strive for accuracy, please note that food manufacturers occasionally change their food formulas, which could affect the calculations as shown.
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