Chinese Walnut Cookies, also called Hup Toh Soh 核桃酥 in Cantonese, are an old-style favourite Chinese New Year (CNY) cookies. Moreover, they are crunchy, nutty with mild earthy fragrance. Besides, we often give cookies as gifts or served to friends and family when they visit your house during CNY. And they are one of the most traditional and popular ways to celebrate the festive occasion. Some of the most well-liked CNY cookies are Almond Cookies, Peanuts Cookies, and Cashew Nut Cookies. Chinese walnut cookies are the most conventional cookies as they symbolise happiness for the whole family.
Today, they sell pre-packaged commercial gluten version of these popular Chinese cookies. They are available all year round at supermarkets or retail outlets in Asia. Many people eat CNY cookies as snacks during afternoon tea time. Customarily, they make walnut cookies dough using lard. While the modern variations of these Chinese walnut cookies recipes normally use either cooking oil or butter. My main ingredients are walnuts meal, coarsely ground walnuts, gluten free all-purpose baking flour, vegan butter and maple syrup. This gluten free Chinese walnut cookies recipe is also vegan, dairy free, soy free, egg free and refined sugar free.
History of Walnuts
Common or Persian walnuts (Juglans regia) in the family of Juglandaceae. Walnuts have rounded shapes and a solid reddish brown colour wrinkled shell. While the folds and wrinkles of the walnut meat resemble the shape of the brain cerebrum. It even appears like it has right and left hemispheres. Specifically, walnuts are one of the foods that look like the body part that they are good for. Besides, it is no wonder that we often refer walnuts as brain food.
Additionally, we consume walnuts as one of the many original nuts consumed in human history. The consumption of walnuts as food dated all the way back to Persia around 7,000 BCE. They cultivated walnut trees globally not only for their edible nuts but also for their superior quality hardwood. They originated from the highlands of Central Asia as a remnant species.
Culinary Versatility of Walnuts
Generally, they sell walnuts with or without shells commercially. Also, they sell walnut meats whole, halved or coarsely processed. Walnuts are very popular in culinary uses as they are widely available and highly versatile. We can eat walnuts raw, roasted, candied, pickled, and made into butter. As well as included in a dish to make stir-fries, pasta, salad and soup. Furthermore, they add walnuts to baked goods like cookies, cakes, bread, tarts, and pies. Even included in breakfast cereal and muesli mixes, etc. In addition, they make walnuts into expensive culinary walnut oil frequently used in salad dressings.
Medicinal Uses of Walnuts
In traditional Chinese medicine (TCM), they consider walnuts to have both sweet and warm properties. They often use walnuts as a remedy to warm the lungs, moisten the large colon and tonify the kidney. Generally, they use walnuts in TCM to treat many ailments. Including chronic asthma, constipation, persistent cough, osteo and rheumatoid arthritis. As well as premature grey hair, nourish the blood and depleted immunity.
Nutritional Values of Walnuts
The common walnuts contain healthy fats, protein and dietary fiber and are low in carbs. They are an excellent source of vitamins and minerals. Including vitamin B6, folate (vitamin B9), and vitamin E. Plus the heart healthy omega-3 fatty acids alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), copper, manganese and phosphorous. Walnuts are also high in monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats and a good source of molybdenum and biotin (vitamin H). In addition, walnuts (mainly the brown skin) are remarkably rich in antioxidants. Derived from plant compounds like ellagitannins, catechin, melatonin and phytic acid.
Health Benefits of Walnuts
The overall health benefits of walnuts may include:
- Reduce risks of cardiovascular diseases;
- Aid in weight management;
- Reduce inflammation in the body;
- Promote healthy digestive system;
- Assist in lowering the risk of breast, prostate, colon and kidney cancers;
- Help manage diabetes or reduce risks of diabetes;
- Promote healthy bones and teeth;
- Lower blood pressure;
- Assist in the lowering of blood cholesterol levels; and
- Support healthy brain and central nervous system.
Chinese Walnut Cookies
- 250 g natural walnuts roasted and finely ground into meal
- 100 g natural walnuts roasted and coarsely ground
- 350 g gluten free all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- ½ teaspoon baking soda
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon xanthan gum
- 1 tablespoon white chia seeds
- 200 g vegan butter
- ⅓ cup maple syrup
- ½ cup natural walnuts halved
- Roast all the walnuts in the preheated fan-forced oven at 160C or 320F for 10 minutes or until lightly golden brown. Set aside to cool.
- Add 250g (8.8oz) roasted walnuts into a food processor and ground into meal. Set aside in a bowl.
- Then add 100g (3.5oz) roasted walnuts into the food processor and coarsely ground for around 6 seconds. Set aside.
- In a large bowl, whisk all the rest of the dry ingredients together and add in all the ground walnuts from steps 2 & 3. Mix and combine well with a spatula.
- Then add the vegan butter and maple syrup to the dry ingredients and rub the wet ingredients into the flour until the mixture resembles coarse bread crumbs.
- Use your hands to knead the dough until you get a smooth dough.
- Preheat fan-forced oven to 160C or 320F. Position the oven rack in the lower third of your oven.
- Roll the dough into small balls (30g/1.1oz each), repeat until you have used up all the dough.
- Flatten each ball into a 1 ½ inch round patty and smooth the edges with your fingers.
- Place each cookie dough 1 inch apart, onto baking trays lined with baking paper.
- Press halved walnut gently onto the center of each cookie dough.
- Bake in the oven for 25 minutes or until the cookies are lightly golden brown.
- Allow the cookies to cool on the baking trays for 5 to 10 minutes before removing to a cooling rack.
- Once the cookies are completely cooled, store in an air-tight container.