Macau-style almond cookies are traditionally made using lard, but I went the simpler route and, after it worked well in mooncakes, used coconut oil instead, another fat that is solid at room temperature. (Shortening is the more common replacement for lard, but I wasn’t a huge fan of the taste in these cookies.) The addition of non-fat dry milk powder and cornstarch makes the cookies more tender, but it is not essential (and can be omitted to keep it vegan and grain-free). As written here, the cookies won’t turn out in the flower shapes pictured, but will look like the smaller, almond-topped ones instead. For the more intricate patterns, see Notes below.
To form the cookies like the flower-shaped ones shown, you’ll need a plunger-style mold (I used these mooncake ones) or a wooden mold like this. I found these to be a devil to get out of the molds, so I would advise against this method despite how pretty they are, but if you have the patience, I’d recommend the following: (1) Flour the mold well in between each cookie, tapping out any excess. (2) For a plunger-style mold, press 1 to 2 tablespoons of the cookie mixture into the mold and press it first against your palm so that the mixture won’t fall out when you turn it onto a flat surface. Press down on the plunger very firmly, then lift the mold and use the plunger to push the cookie out. Place on a baking sheet and repeat. (3) For a wooden mold, press the cookie mixture into the mold until full, then overturn the mold and give it a good firm thwack to dislodge the cookies. The cookies made using the mold will need a few more minutes in the oven, about 20 minutes instead of 15. I have found that experimenting with the ratios of flours is just fine, just as long as they add up to 200 grams. To that end, I expect that if you could find traditional Chinese almond powder (perhaps something like this) the cookies would taste even closer to the storebought version than these did, and you might be able to substitute more of the mung bean flour for the almond powder and still get the nice, tender texture that I was going for. Mandy at Lady and Pups just posted a fascinating explanation of the difference between American and Chinese almonds here; as she noted, almond extract is closer to Chinese almonds, and so I’ve used just a tad here to compensate. Finally, peanut flour is a common ingredient over in Asia, and I suspect it may have been the ingredient in the traditional cookies, but I didn’t hunt it down for this recipe — if you have it, I expect you could replace the peanut butter with one tablespoon of peanut flour and one tablespoon of water. (The recipe also works, if you were curious, with one tablespoon of water instead of peanut butter altogether.)