|dragon cookies (loong peng)|
My first week in Kuala Lumpur, at the age of seven, was during the autumn harvest festival. We walked through a market, where all the stalls were bedecked with bright jewel-like coloured lanterns. It was obvious that I would chose a dragon, and I eventually found the perfect specimen - a neon pink and gold cellophane behemoth.
I became a girl obsessed. I loved the stories of strong and powerful Chinese dragons, controlling the weather, bringing good fortune and rescuing princesses,(as opposed to the brutish British type that tended to incinerate young maidens and raze villages, while covetously counting their treasure). Chinese dragons were much more exciting.
So obsessed was I by dragons and dragon motifs that by the time I was in my 20s you could have (and probably did) sell me any old piece of tat so long as it had a picture of a dragon on it. I have managed to wean myself off the tat but these deliciously crumbly Malaysian (sea) dragon cookies to welcome in the Year of the Horse (and soothe my need for dragon kitsch).
These biscuits are very similar to Danish butter cookies or Viennese swirls, except for the addition of dried milk powder. I have also added a little grated orange zest. It's not traditional, but oranges are considered very lucky at Chinese New Year; frankly I need all the luck I can get.
The mixture does need to be very stiff, so that the cookies don't spread too much in the oven. Conversely, don't over mix the cookie dough or the baked cookies will be very tough. They should be light and buttery and slightly crumbly.
With luck, these cookies will make you healthy, wealthy and wise!
Happy New Year!
250g plain flour, sifted (less 2 tbsps)
250g, butter, softened
1 egg yolk
50g icing sugar, sifted
50g corn flour, sifted
2 tbsp dried milk powder
orange zest, very finely chopped
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
red food colouring
star-shaped icing nozzle
- Preheat the oven to 160C.
- Cream the butter with the icing sugar until very pale. Add egg yolk and beat until well-combined.
- Fold in the sifted flours and milk powder, together with the orange zest. Add the vanilla extract.
- Pipe squiggles of cookie dough onto a prepared baking sheet (using a star-shaped nozzle).
- Before baking, poke 2 holes in each "dragon" to make eyes, with a toothpick. Use the same toothpick, dipped into food colouring, to fill in the eyes. (They made need topping up again with colour after baking.)
- Bake for 12 to 15 minutes until just beginning to colour.
- Dip in melted chocolate for an indulgent treat.