Monday, January 23, 2012

Happy Chinese New Year!

CNY Greetings 2012

Or as I say, Gong xi fa cai, hong bao na lai! (Good luck and fortune, now gimme my red packet! It sounds better in Chinese.) Today is the start of the Year of the Dragon; if you believe in astrology and all that, you can go look up your specific horoscope for how this year will go for you. I read that I'll be having a difficult year in terms of health, and specifically that I may be injured at work! I will be using this as a pitch to work from home more often...

Like our centerpiece?! You've always got to have apples and oranges (auspicious colors, see) and Cedric was our stand-in for a dragon. He's got wings, I'm convinced! But there are dragons in edible form, too!

Last year, I decided I was going to make all of the zodiac signs into cookie form (yes, this will be a 12 year project!). As it turns out, it was a good year to start on, the rabbit being relatively simple in shape. The dragon? Not so easy! I kicked around a few ideas (and Megg had suggested a Trogdor shaped cookie), but I really wanted something rounder and cuter (like the bunny cookies, but, you know, dragony).


So I took some green tea and vanilla shortbread dough, and made something vaguely dragon shaped. Here is a crappy cell phone photo of what I was going for. See? Kind of dragony?

Dragon cookie fail :(

Aaaaand here is what happened after baking. Total collapse, whoops! It should not have been such a surprise to me that shortbread dough wouldn't hold its own weight. Sigh.


So I took a break from dragon cookies and made pineapple tarts instead. As usual, I made my own jam; you can see check out this old post for step by step instructions on making pineapple tarts. I made them bite sized this year, figuring that would help with portion control.

Cedric eyes the pineapple tarts

Unfortunately, that just meant that they are that much easier to keep grabbing and munching! Whoops!

Coconut nian gao

Then I made another traditional food, nian gao. This is actually somewhat untraditional, as the typical nian gao is brown sugar based and steamed, whereas this version uses coconut and is baked in the oven. Nian gao is a type of cake made out of glutinous rice flour, and is quite similar in texture to mochi. It is rather delicious, and has caused me to gain several pounds already.

So anyhow, after all that, i came back to my deformed dragon cookies and stared at them, long enough that I decided maybe all was not lost and there might be a way to salvage them after all. And so, with a little creative arrangement and some (extremely) rudimentary photo editing...

What do baby dragons dream about?

I give you dreaming baby dragons. Yes, they dream of cookies. What, don't you?

Happy new year! May it be healthy and prosperous, and full of nothing but good things.


Tooki said...

That dreaming dragon looks darn cute and yr pineapple tarts are so pretty but that's first time I see such a nian gao, looks good! Gong xi fa cai!

obachan said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
obachan said...

Oh, that dragon is sooooo cute! I wish I could have used that photo for my new year's cards. Haha! BTW, I was born in the year of the Dragon. And so was my mom and her mother, too. I wonder if that means something unusual (good or bad?) in Chinese zodiac. Here in my hometown they say that I'm dangerous. LOL

tofugirl said...

Hi Tooki, thanks! I looooove pineapple tarts, they are so addictive :D Yeah, the baked nian gao are not too traditional, but we really like this style :) I also made the traditional steamed kind, but no picture of it! Gong xi fa cai to you too!

Hi Obachan! I think the dragons are a happy accident! :) I haven't looked at the fortunes, but I'm guessing a Dragon in the year of the Dragon can only have good things coming to them...I hope that's true! The Dragon is supposed to be the best sign :)

Chubby Chinese Girl said...

Love it!!!!! the dragons are sooo cute!!!!!

babykins said...

I'm so impressed that there are so many goodness for Chinese New Year and you make them each year. I just learned the way your dragon cookies were supposed to be (they are standing!) haha. But the sleeping dragons are so cute, too! Reducing butter might help them keep the form... I'm not really sure though. :)

Bentobird said...

Coming to this post a bit late, but hopefully not too late to wish you a joyful New Year and mention how cute and yummy and entertaining this post dragons, dreaming of cookies...awesome!

tofugirl said...

Oops, me late on responding to comments! Sorry!

CCG: Thanks :D A happy accident, hehe.

Izumi, I think I just need to try a different (sturdier) dough! Anyway next yaer is the year of the snake, much easier! Haha.

Hey Jenn :) Thank you, and happy new year to you too :D

Token said...

oh my god..... sooo adorable!! :3 I love your baking-ideas! <3

Paula said...

How did you form those tart bases? I've never seen a form like that.