Flaky peanut cookies are a popular Chinese dessert, and puff pastry turnovers filled with savory curry or shredded turnips are a popular Hong Kong snack, so I combine the two in these little peanut turnovers. When you fry them, the pastry puffs up and fans out like flower petals. The peanut filling warms nicely and takes on a sticky sweet chew inside the delicate crisp shell.
Yield: Makes 32 small turnovers
1 1/3 cups (7 ounces/200 grams) peanuts, toasted
1¼ cups (3½ ounces/100 grams) crushed palm sugar
2 tablespoons honey
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
Canola or vegetable oil, or other neutral oil for deep-frying
1. Put the peanuts, palm sugar, honey, butter, and salt into the bowl of a food processor and pulse until the peanuts are finely chopped and the mixture is starting to come together, about 20 times. (You can also do this by hand: Pound all the ingredients together in a large mortar with a pestle or chop the peanuts and mix with the other ingredients.) Form the mixture into ½-inch balls and place on a baking sheet. Cover with plastic wrap and freeze until hard, about 5 minutes.
2. Put a peanut ball in the center of a puff pastry round. Fold the circle over the filling to form a half-moon and press the edges with the tines of a fork to seal. Repeat with the remaining peanut balls and puff pastry rounds.
3. Fill a medium saucepan with oil to a depth of 2 inches and heat to 350°F When the oil is ready (a pinch of flout will sizzle), add a few of the turnovers, without crowding the pan, and cook until golden brown, about 1 minute, then flip and cook the other side until golden brown, about 2 minutes more. Remove with a slotted spoon and drain on paper towels. Repeat with the remaining turnovers. Serve warm or at room temperature.
CHEF’S TIP: A candy or deep-fry thermometer is very helpful here. Maintaining the right oil temperature while cooking will ensure pastries that are evenly browned and completely cooked through. It also prevents the pastries from absorbing too much oil, resulting in an extra light and crisp turnover