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Sunday, January 17, 2010

Kinako Polvorones - Japanese Take On The Traditional Spanish Cookie


Soy Cookie

Picnik collage Soy Cookie 2

It has been a while since I last baked something. As Chinese New Year approaches, everyone gets ready to churn out the best house recipes. The staple Chinese New Year treats would include the Pineapple Tart - buttery short bread cookie base topped with moist,sweet delicious pineapple jam, the Love Letters,- a crispy paper thin coconut flavoured egg roll rolled into the shape of a cigar, the Kuih Bangkit-a small, dry cookie made with sago flour that neverthless still melts in the mouth to release an explosion of fragrant coconut. I will be tempted to try my hands at these traditional treats but deep down for most of us, we know that we will never dare to pitch these against e.g 3rd Aunty's eagerly awaited Love Letters or The Mother-In-Law's 'Le Pineapple Tart'. When you are up against these time tested family heirloom recipes, you adopt a low profile and let the Patriachs Of The Family Kitchen shine.

So what can we do to get that nod of approval? What can we bring to the table that is different and tasty enough to get people interested? For the ones who are bold enough to try new things, who are thick skinned enough to brace the shoot downs, there will always be options - limited only by one's ability to think out of the box.

I choose today to with work with a Polvorone recipe. A Polvorone is really a traditional Spanish cookie. Somewhat like a short bread but compared with the pineapple tart, it has very much less butter but supringsingly still melts beautifully in the mouth. Usually almond based, many variations have been produced using e.g. Cashew Nuts (somewhat of a specialty in the Philippinnes now) , Pecan nuts etc.

I found a nice recipe in Keiko Ishida's Okashi, yet again. My eyes lit up when I saw her recommendation to vary it with Kinako powder( Soya Bean powder). Though traditionally presented as a round ball or cut into discs using cookie cutter, I wanted to play with a set of  traditional wooden molds I bought in China for S$3. These work a little like the Ang Gu Kueh molds or to the people in the West, you can imagine it to be somewhat of a Springlere mold. With a mold with beautiful imprints like these, one needs to select the recipe carefully to ensure that the carved patterns stay clear and sharp. I needed to find a cookie recipe that will not spread too much in the oven, something that contains less fat and holds its shape. I did consider using a Springlere cookie recipe but that, I feel will not suit the palate expectation for this traditional Chinese festive season.

Picnik collage Soy Cookie

Soy Cookie2

Working with the mold, is quite exasperating, though. Some motives seem to work better with the recipe that the others. I had wanted to get more cookies in the 'bird' motive but it tends to break off very easily at the tail joint. It was relatively easier to knock the cookie dough out of the Lotus flower and the flower basket motive.I was happy that the imprints remained sharp and clear after baking.
The taste of the cookie is fragrant with the soya bean powder and I like the melt in the mouth texture. It reminds me a little of the Green Bean cake (绿豆糕)- not as dry and crunchy as the Macau Specialty and neither is it as soft and cake-like as the oilier Taiwanese version. I am now motivated to play with Sesame powder and ground cashew nuts.


Recipe (adapted from Keiko Ishida's Okashi) :

110g               All purpose flour
100g               Unsalted butter
40g                 Icing sugar
70g                 Soy Bean Powder (Kinako)


1. Preheat oven to 150C.
2. Sift flour onto a parchment paper lined baking tray. Bake the flour at 150C for 25mins, stirring the flour a couple of times during the baking process.
3. Remove the flour from the oven and cool down to room temperature.
4. In a mixing bowl, beat butter and icing sugar with the paddle fixture until soft. Add  the soy bean powder and mix well.
5. Add the flour and mix well with a spatula.
6. On a lightly floured board, roll out dough to a thickness of 1cm. Cut with your favourtie cookie cutter.
(for me, I had rolled the dough into a ball, inserted it in the floured wooden mold before pressing it into the mold. The mold is then given a firm knock against the table and the cookie will drop out of the mold.)
7. Dust with a mixture of powder sugar and Kinako powder.


La Table De Nana said...

I don't know what I ♥ more..your cookies.. your post or the cookie mold!:)Would the soy give texture like cornstarch?

Shirley @ Kokken69 said...

Hi Monique,so happy you like my new post:). The Soy Powder,is a little rougher than corn-starch, I feel - closer to cocao powder. The bean fragrance is beautiful! Closing shop now - flying to India tonight for work! I shall miss blogging...

wendyywy said...

I wonder what u'll back back from India....

Shirley @ Kokken69 said...

:) for the blog, maybe cheap colourful cotton fabrics for my photos... :D

Ju (The Little Teochew) said...

They are beautiful, Shirley! And even more so against that gorgeous blue fabric. Melt-in-the-mouth? Ah, just what I ordered. :)

zurin said...

Those are beautiful....I think our minds are again at one..I was just googling at amazon last nite trying ot get some wooden chinese moulds to make shortbread with. I saw it on someones blog and they were indescribably beautiful! Just as I thought ! China. :( Ill never get to china.

but urs are as gorgeous if nt more!! awesome Shirley!

Irene's Footprints said...

wow...the mould is pretty...the imprints are veri defined.

You have to get more nice stuff from India too!

It is cold in India now...

thecoffeesnob said...

Ooh I just got my hands on Okashi and have been eyeing the same recipe but have been wondering where I could get kinako from. Anyway have a great and safe trip to India, Shirley!

Shirley @ Kokken69 said...

Zurin, these molds are actually very cheap. Let me know if you want me to get them for you.

Irene, will look out for interesting stuff here in India.

Coffeesnob, good for you! Okashi is a good book to have. You can get Kinako at Japanese supermarkets under the baking ingredients/ Japanese dessert ingredient section. It is quite readily available.

Anonymous said...

These are so cute! I like how Japanese like to recreate European desserts / cakes and make their own version :)

billy@ATFT said...

oh god, talk about CNY approaching... i better start baking!!!! ur okashi looks good :)

tracieMoo said...

We're such soya bean lovers. I have never had this cookie before. It sounds really good though. I've never seen soya bean powder sold. Can it be freshly grounded?

Shirley @ Kokken69 said...

Tracie, I don't think we can ground the powder by ourselves- at I don't know how to. Do you have any japanese supermarkets in KL? Try looking at their japanese cake ingredients section.

Carolyn said...

Your cookies look so pretty and would be lovely with a cup of tea!


maameemoomoo said...

Very lovely cookies, and very lovely blog too! ;)

Was about to ask u where did u get your kinako powder from but after reading your replies here, there's no need already. Hee..

I've too, bought Okashi but have yet, to try anything till today. *still in holiday mood!*

tracieMoo said...

Hi! I've passed you an award. Do feel free to pick it up from my blog :)

wendyywy said...

I've got an award for u at my blog too, pls collect it.


Julia @Mélanger said...

Oh my gosh, those moulds are adorable, and so are those cookies. Great adaptation. I'm sure they tasted fantastic!

pigpigscorner said...

The moulds are so cute! I've never seen soy bean powder before, have to look out for it next time!


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