In Asian Treats, Recipe on
June 13, 2010

Smiling Mouth Cookies 笑口枣

When I was little, I had terrible teeth. Big, ugly, rabbit teeth. Each tooth had a mind of its own and grew in a different direction to the one next to it- I’m not kidding. It was terrible.

I didn’t mind too much- after all, I’d grown up with them. But I tried to hide them as much as possible- like smiling with my mouth closed (at least for photos). Which wasn’t an easy thing. Because when I’m happy, I just can’t seem to close my mouth! Looking back at photos, especially those in year 6, I can’t tell which ones I look worse in- the ones where I’m trying to close my mouth but end up with a funny face or the ones which I just let my teeth stick out. School photos were horrible because the photographer always made us say something like ‘yes’ (actually they still do….) and not only would that be awkward (the way it still is), but I’d have to try to close my mouth lightning fast, which I never managed to do.

I remember a (sort of )conversation with some friends in primary. A girl was pondering over the issue of getting braces- except that, she had pretty much perfect teeth. When I mentioned that I would probably be getting braces soon, she responded with something along the lines of ‘If I had teeth like yours, I’d definitely get braces’ (only the real quote had words like ‘ugly’ somewhere in there too….)=[ I eventually got braces in year 7. They didn’t really hurt after the first couple of weeks but my orthodontist told me not to eat chocolate or drink fizzy drinks when I had braces. Being the good girl I am, I actually listened and went off chocolate and fizzy drinks for a whole year (I definitely don’t have that self control now)- it was not until I had them off that I realised that no other orthodontist told their clients to do so. But with my braces off, not only could i start eating normally again, I also had straight teeth, meaning that I could finally smile properly- a good happy smile, which I use a lot now =]

I never really noticed how much I smiled until someone called me ‘smiley’. I sometimes smile instead of saying hello, I smile when I’m embarassed, I smile when I don’t know how to respond to something. I even finish sentences with smiley faces, both on my blog posts and in comments 😉 My fingers just wander over to the smiley face sign instead of a full stop……..

I really love happy things- which is why I love the name of these cookies. And they’re delicious too! ‘Smiling mouth cookies’ is the direct translation from chinese, incase you’re wondering about the weird name- because apparently, the split looks like a smile (I don’t really see it….)

My mum had promised me she’d make these with me, after reading it in one of her chinese cookbooks. But being busy with school work and various other things, this promise got forgotten until one day, after school, a food topic on the chinese radio triggered my memory. Off I went on a rant about how my mother had promised me to cook all these things but we’ve never gotten around to doing them (to be fair, she keeps a LOT more of her promises than I do), which eventually led to her suggesting we make these cookies right there and then!

Despite having a load of homwork due, I quickly hurried around the kitchen to grab all the ingredients, before my mum changed her mind. It didn’t take too long- my mum read the recipe whilst I measured everything. I did all the mixing and kneading, shoving my mother’s helpful hands out of the way every time she tried to grab the dough off my to have a go- yes, we love the hog the fun bits! As luck would have it, we could only find enough seasame seeds in the house to coat three cookies, so we attempted to coat them with coconut, which we realised would not work. So we went back to the pantry, turned the whole thing inside out, and finally find a brand new packet of seasame seeds! *phew*

The cookies fry quickly, it only takes about 20 seconds or so for them to float up and another minute to brown but we leave it there for a couple of minutes longer, since the recipe said 6-8 minutes. The coconut cookie browned within the first few seconds, and the coconut got burnt- so don’t try these with coconut! They’re sweet and crunchy, but the inside is slightly softer and the seasame seeds give it a really nice flavour too. Definitely the type of food to keep me going throughout the night…….to finish all that homework I’d been putting off 😉

Smiling Mouth Cookies


Low gluten flour (cake flour)……….450g
Salad Oil (any oil will do)……………..20g
Caster Sugar………………………………150g
Baking Powder…………………………..9g
Baking Soda……………………………….1g
Egg…………………………………………….50g (1 egg)
Some white sesame
Some black sesame (optional)
Oil (for deep

1. Mix together the water, sugar, baking powder and baking soda until the sugar has dissolved.
2. Whisk in the egg and slowly add in the oil.
3. Using a spatula, mix the flour into the mixture until a dough is
formed. Turn it out onto a hard surface and knead until the dough is smooth.
4. Divide the dough into 100g portions and roll them out into long sausage shapes. Place all the ‘sausages’ lengthwise closely next to each other and then use a pastry cutter to cut along the other way so that each sausage is cut into ten pieces. Alternatively, divide the dough into 10g portions (I think the first way is meant to be faster)
5. Roll the pieces into balls. Then, place in a sieve and sprinkle with water. (you don’t want it to be too wet). Then roll the balls in sesame until the entire surface of each ball is covered. To do this, I sprinkle the sesame into a tray , dump the balls of dough in and shake the tray around so that the balls are covered. I find it easier to work with about 10 balls at a time.
6. Heat the oil in a large pot (or wok) until 120C then place as many balls as can fit into the oil. They will initially sink to the bottom, and then rise after around 2-3 minutes. When the cookies split open (or ‘smile’) and turn golden brown (around 6-8 minutes), take them out and let cool a while (unless you want a burnt tongue….) before eating.

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  • tigerfish

    I don't think I have tried these cookies…but must be very good….the aroma of sesame….

    June 14, 2010 at 4:07 AM Reply
  • sweetlife

    I love the name of these cookies, they look super cute, great post


    June 14, 2010 at 5:26 AM Reply
  • shaz

    Awww, kids can be so cruel can't they? I'm sure you have a beautiful smile 🙂 And like you , I cannot resist the smiley emoticon too.

    I think I have tasted these and really liked them, glad to have the recipe to give them a go. They really look very moreish, i'm sure I wouldn't be able to stop at one.

    June 14, 2010 at 10:55 AM Reply
  • Rosa's Yummy Yums

    What cute little cookies! They must be delicious. I've never heard of them before…



    June 14, 2010 at 6:30 PM Reply
  • Maria

    I love the name! Adorable little cookies 🙂

    June 14, 2010 at 7:00 PM Reply
  • Velva

    These cookies look delightful. I can see why you enjoy these cookie treats.

    I enjoyed the story. Being called "Smiley" is a good thing.

    June 15, 2010 at 2:35 AM Reply
  • OohLookBel

    I didn't know the cookies were called that! The things you learn… Your cookies look fantastic; I'd be grinning after having a couple of these, I think 😀

    June 15, 2010 at 4:46 AM Reply
  • Shirley @ Kokken69

    Absolutely lovely post. Love your childhood story and I smiled when I read that you tried to shove away your mother's hands when she tried to get to the dough… The cookies look really beautiful. Must make these for Chinese New Year. ….Keep Smiling!

    June 15, 2010 at 5:15 AM Reply
  • Ladybird

    Oh what a lovely story, and what a lovely mum you have! 🙂 I have the smiley habit too – it's way more fun than full stops 🙂

    June 15, 2010 at 6:12 AM Reply
  • Ladybird

    Oh what a lovely story, and what a lovely mum you have! 🙂 I have the smiley habit too – it's way more fun than full stops 🙂

    June 15, 2010 at 6:12 AM Reply
  • Adriana from Bittersweet Baker

    Hi Von!

    Your cookies are too cute! Smiley couldn't be a better name by the way.

    I have something waiting for you on my blog… (Towards the end of my latest post).

    June 15, 2010 at 4:58 PM Reply
  • penny aka jeroxie

    Love it! going to try and make some myself too. 🙂 🙂

    June 15, 2010 at 9:18 PM Reply
  • grace

    my teeth were terrible too, and although braces were such a hassle and often painful, it was worth it! i love these cookies and their name–very interesting post!

    June 15, 2010 at 9:34 PM Reply
  • panda

    i always thought these were really hard to make but seeing how good yours look, i might actually give it a go. thanks for posting the recipe!

    June 16, 2010 at 12:55 PM Reply
  • 5 Star Foodie

    Thanks for sharing your story! And these cookies look so cute! I love the sesame seeds in them!

    June 16, 2010 at 3:00 PM Reply
  • A Canadian Foodie

    OMGosh, Von – you actually commented on my blog! I have had you posted under teen bloggers for months now. Great cookies.

    June 16, 2010 at 8:32 PM Reply
  • Lazy Cook

    yummmmmmm sounds absolutely divine!

    June 20, 2010 at 9:34 AM Reply
  • Trissa

    Haha… the teeth comment is hilarious – my husband would say I have awful teeth NOW! ANyway, the cookies look yummy – especially with the sesame – would definitely add a wonderful texture to the cookies.

    June 22, 2010 at 11:14 AM Reply
  • Angie's Recipes

    These look so beautiful! Used to eat lots of them when I was still little…

    June 22, 2010 at 12:52 PM Reply
  • TasteHongKong

    Great, looks like your cookies all wear a good smile. I have not been seeing them around for a while but they will be available every where during the Chinese New Year.
    Thanks for dropping by : ).

    June 23, 2010 at 1:00 PM Reply
  • My Little Space

    Hey Von, conratulations! These cookies look beautiful and pretty successful too. I'm realy happy for you. Hope you're having a nice day.
    Cheers, Kristy

    June 24, 2010 at 7:12 AM Reply
  • MaryMoh

    Looks very smiley and beautiful. These are very delicious…my favourite. I made once but didn't smile as widely as yours. I guess I have to smile more when I make them next time…haha

    July 6, 2010 at 12:49 PM Reply
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