Monday, February 01, 2010

Hup Toh Sou/Walnut Crisp

These Hup Toh Soh is a cookie but this recipe results a very crisp and crunchy cookie, sort of like a Biscotti.  If you like crisp and crunchy, then give this recipe a try.  Strangely, this cookie is called Walnut Crisp/Cookie (hup Toh is cantonese for walnut) but there is no walnuts in the dough.  I top the crisp with a piece of walnut just to justify the name.  Could it be that the appearance of the baked crisp/cookie, with all the cracks, looked like a walnut????  

 In traditional Chinese medicine, walnuts are associated with the Lung, Large Intestine and Kidney meridians, and have sweet and warm properties. Its functions are to tonify the kidneys, nourish the blood, warm the lungs and moisten the intestines. Typically, walnuts are used to treat pain and weakness in the knees and back, aid in digestion, and relieve asthma. Recent evidence suggests walnuts may play a role in lowering blood cholesterol levels, thus reducing the incidence of some forms of heart disease. Science provides a slightly less mysterious explanation: walnuts have been found to be rich in omega-3 fatty acids, an essential nutrient for the human brain. Incidentally, dont you think that the walnut flesh looks like the brain ?

I believe that a sweet sticky chewy walnut/dates confection was eaten during ancient times in China , in the hope that family bonds will remain as strong as these sweet, sticky candies. How on earth did the ancient Chinese know that????  This recipe i will try to locate, in the meantime, enjoy eating these cookies..


2 cups bleached all-purpose
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp ammonia powder
1/8 tsp salt
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup lard/shortening
1 large egg (beaten)
Walnut pieces
Egg yolk for glazing


Put the flour, baking soda, ammonia powder, sugar and salt in the food processor and pulse a couple of times to mix ingredints well.

Add in the lard/shortening and pulse until flour mixture becomes breadcrumb like.

Add in the beaten egg and pulse until a tiny piece of dough can be pressed together to form a dough.(mixture will look crumbly but can be pressed tiogether).

Using a 1 oz ice-cream scoop, scoop dough out and roll dough into balls.

Sprinkle some flour on to baking sheet and place balls on it. Flatten the ball slightly, press a hole in the middle with your thumb, glaze with egg yolk and top with a piece of walnut in the hole.

Bake in preheated oven 250 f for 10 minutes and then increase the oven temperature to 300 f and further bake for another 10 minutes.

Cool cookies on cake rack and when it is cooled, serve or pack into air-tight containers.



ZZ said...

Can I leave out ammonia powder and subtitute it with baking soda? Will it affect the baking/cookies? Thanks.

Unknown said...


you can sub with 1/2 tsp baking powder, but the particular smell of the chinese cookie is not there

Chris said...

Can I sub butter for the lard/shortening? I also recently realized that there is Chinese walnuts and American ones, and a slight price difference too.
Sounds like a great recipe..will def. try it!

Unknown said...


yes you can sub with any fat but strangely, the chinese cookie using lard and a little ammonia give this cookie - chinese

Crumbs N Crust said...

Hi Lily

I see that you have been busy baking up all the Chinese New Year's goodies = )

I just bought a electric kueh bolu mould and was wondering whether you have the recipe for it ?!

Would appreciate it very much if you could email it to me..Thank you in advance


Unknown said...


i made this recipe baking in the oven but i think it will work for your electric maker

ZZ said...

Aunt Lily,

Another question: Where can I get ammonia powder? Walmart? Kroger? or any specialty store? Thanks.

Unknown said...


i have seen ammonia powder in these stores. my friend claire went to kansas city and bought a bag for me from one of the asian stores there.

i know you can get it online

Ube said...

Looks good! Must be an excellent dunking cookies in coffee, tea or hot chocoate. ZZ you can get ammnonia powder at any Greek specialty market. The Greeks use it a lot in their cookie making and it is not that expensive or if you want to go online King Arthur Flour carries it.

Claire said...

Hi Lily,

You can also find at some Middle-Eastern grocery stores near the spices or baking section. I found it here in Denver at Arash's a small bottle labeled "Ammonia" with the name brand Castella. Tell your readers it looks like baking soda.

Unknown said...

ube and claire

thanks for your help.

i hope ZZ will read this

ZZ said...

Thanks everyone. I will go ammonida hunting this weekend.

ZZ said...

Hi Ube,

I just ordered Baker's ammonia from King Arthur Flour website. 2.07 oz/$9.95/free shipping/4-7 days delivery. I was happy because it's free shipping. Thanks again & happy baking!!!!

Chris said...

I did the cookie with shortening and Chinese walnuts. I was too lazy to bring out the food processor and used a pastry mixer instead. Taste was great but had a bit of difficulty forming the cookie which was sort of loose. Will use the processor next time.

Aunt LoLo said...

Mmm....I made these this morning with my preschool kids - we were learning about Chinese New Year. It made a HUGE mess, but the cookies are delicious!!

I'd love to know how much flour you use by -weight-. I live in New England, and my flour seems to be heavier than other places. My cookies were so took a LOT of effort to get them squashed into balls, and brushing them with egg yolks just made them fall apart. (I should have just added water...but I was trying to hurry through the prep so I didn't lose the three year olds' attention.)

Thank you for the great recipes!!!

Unknown said...

aunt lolo

so nice to see you here again. It has been awhile.

i used bleached all purpose but if you have used unbleached, the protein content is higher and need more liquid. but more liquid meants more crunchy. i would prefer fat which will make the cookie shorter.

Tan said...

hello,im trying to make chinese fah seng peng,but havent got the right recipe to make the one that melts in you happen to have recipe on that and any tips on making that?thank you.

Unknown said...


i don't know if this is the cookie you are looking for they are pretty good and melts in the mouth.

Tan said...

Thank you very much for the recipe.did the baking and it turns out really good.everyone enjoy it during the chinese new year.

Alvin said...

i have a question regarding the temperature for baking.the recipe states there 250F.wouldn't it be too low to bake the cookies?thank you

Unknown said...


i too questioned the temperature used - 250 f, wouldn't it be too low but i am sure there must be a reason - you could bake the cookies longer if the temperature is low, and the ammonia could dissipate with longer baking time.

Anonymous said...

Hi Lily,

I love hup toh sou. I want to try and make some but I don't have food processor. Can I use a blender? The blender also has a pulse function too. Your recipe said 1 large egg beaten. Do you mean 1 whole large egg? Thank you!

Unknown said...


do it by hand if you do not have a food processor. a blender does not work well if there is no liquid. Mix the lard/shortening and the sugar with a wooden spoon, then add in the whole egg, mix well, then add in the flour and form a ball. Rest ball for 1/2 hr before using

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