We’re all a bit confused about whether this year should be called the year of the ram, sheep, or goat. I’ve taken the liberty to simplify things for all of us. Happy year of the fluffy, woolly, white (sometimes black) mammal! Put that on a t-shirt.
For those of you who are born in the year of the tiger like me, this is what we have in store for 2015:
- Things will go smoothly this year. (<— High Five!)
- We should expect a promotion and salary increase. (Mo’ money, mo’ problems though.)
- For those of us who own a business, we need to be careful and have a solid business plan. (Buy big notebook to lay out business plan. Check.)
- Yikes — female tigers might get injured in the face in January or July! (I’ve escaped January unscathed, but I’m bracing myself for July.)
- We should do regular exercise to stay healthy. (“Amen,” said Michelle Obama.)
- Anyone studying for a big exam should work hard and study more. You’ll do better with your exams that way. (How is this even zodiac fortune-worthy? That’s just stereotypical advice that Chinese mothers give to their children. ALL THE TIME.)
All in all, I’d say that 2015 isn’t looking too bad for us.
Sweets are a HUGE deal on Chinese New Year. First, there’s what I like to call the hodgepodge candy platter, filled with candied kumquats, winter melon, coconut, carrots, lotus root, ginger, and lotus seeds. Fruit jelly candies are also a must. A must! Then, we have fried dumplings filled with sugar, peanuts, coconut, and sesame seeds. I can chow down 10 of those dumplings when they’re fresh out the wok, easy.
One of my favorite CNY sweets would have to be Mama Lin’s peanut brittle. The ingredients list is short, and the steps are deceptively simple. Melt the sugar, mix all the ingredients, roll out the candy, and chop. Sounds easy, right? But whenever I’m dealing with hot sugar, you can expect trouble.
A few months ago, I asked Mama Lin to show me how to make the peanut brittle, and I quickly realized that her method of measuring ingredients is with her eyes. She’ll make some vague effort to measure ingredients in a cup or bowl first, then toss in a handful of nuts and coconut along the way, depending on how the ingredients worked together. This imprecision with her cooking is probably why Mama Lin will never be a professional baker.
After a few tries, I’ve finally reached a recipe that is as close to Mama Lin’s brittle as I can get. Of course, I still think hers taste better, but maybe after I continue making this for another 10 years, I’ll finally get the hang of it.
Here’s to a healthy and prosperous year of the fluffy woolly mammal to you all!
Peanut Sesame Ginger Brittle
- 1 1/2 cups (350g) granulated sugar
- 1 TBS minced fresh ginger
- 2 1/2 cups (420g) roasted unsalted peanuts*
- 1/4 cup (40g) sesame seeds
- 1/3 cup (25g) shredded coconut
- Pour the sugar into a wok or deep sauté pan and heat over medium-low heat.
- Let the sugar sit in the pan until you see that clumps start to form. This may take 5 to 10 minutes. When you see clumps of sugar, start stirring the sugar to prevent it from burning. Continue until all the sugar has turned into a deep golden liquid. Turn off the heat.
- Pour the ginger in first to cook off some of the spice. This should take no more than 30 seconds. Add the peanuts, sesame seeds, and coconut.
- Take a large wooden cutting board, and pour the mixture on top. Lightly wet a rolling pin with water. This will help prevent the candy from sticking to it while you roll out the candy.
- Touch the candy mixture to see how hot it is. If the candy feels burning hot, I would let it cool for a few minutes before rolling out the candy.
- Roll out the mixture to a 1/4-inch thick brittle. Chop the mixture into small rectangles or squares while the candy is still warm.
- Let the candy cool off completely before storing. The candy should stay fresh for up to a month.
This little guy insisted that he help me out with making the candy.