Chinese New Year is Friday, January 31st & provides the perfect opportunity to experiment & have a little family fun in the kitchen while subtly exploring other cultures & learning a few skills along the way. After a little research we learned that Desserts are served during Chinese New Year with the intention of celebrating a ‘sweet’ year ahead. One dessert that is commonly part of the celebration is a pastry/filled cookie called Gok Jai.
Although we have never had a true Gok Jai, nor did we find a recipe that was adaptable, we did research the various ingredients commonly found in this cookie recipe & after seeing photographs decided to create our own version to taste test & share. It took a couple of tries to tweak the recipe, but in the end it was a hit!
Our Gok Jai Pastry by Jodie Fitz
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup virgin coconut oil
1/4 cup water
2 tablespoons of sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon salt
Mix the flour, sugar & salt together in a bowl & stir it with a fork to evenly distribute the dry ingredients. Cut in the room temperature coconut oil with a pastry cutter. You can use a fork if needed. Stir the vanilla extract & water together & add it to the other ingredients and stir the mixture together with a whisk or spoon until it is well mixed. Roll the dough onto a flour surface and using a round cookie cutter create circles. The dough should make 12, ___ inch rounds. Pre-heat the oven to 375 degrees and prep the filling.
Our Gok Jai Filling by Jodie Fitz
Traditional Gok Jai filling often includes peanuts, sesame & coconut, which are all optional & can easily be added to the mix. We used;
2/3 mini chocolate morsels
1 1/2 tablespoons sugar
3/4 teaspoon cinnamon
Mix the chocolate morsels, sugar & cinnamon together. Add approximately 1 tablespoon of the mixture to the center of each pastry round, fold & seal the edges with a fork (see below). We did add in coconut and finely chopped nuts to several.
Place the sealed cookies onto a non-stick baking sheet. Baste the top of each cookie with egg white & sprinkle with sugar.
Bake the cookies for approximately 18 – 20 minutes; until lightly browned. Serve warm.
Kitchen lessons: The entire recipe is filled with many lessons & skills, but one of the featured discussions could be regarding the egg wash & how it makes a difference in the baking process and is required with some recipes. You could actually eliminate the egg wash on one cookie to create a comparison & discussion through hands-on discovery.
Pull Out the World Map: It’s always fun to see how far away you live from the culture you are discussing & learning about. Share a few fun facts about Chinese New Year. In fact, here are a few to save you the trouble;
Did you know?
Chinese New Year is actually a 15 day celebration vs. the 1 day celebration of the United States.
Chinese New Year ends with the lantern festival, celebrated at night with displays and parades of painted lanterns. In fact, we made paper lanterns as part of our Chinese New Year celebration a couple of years ago. You can see how easy they are by clicking here.
Tangerines and oranges are a sign of wealth for the new year as part of the Chinese New Year celebration. We already do pack these in our lunchbox occasionally, but certainly will pack them next week with discussion of Chinese New Year (and they will be packed along side of the paper fortune cookie notes I just made). Check out the free download by clicking here.Jodie Fitz