(Children’s story book: “ノンタンのたんじょうび”)
I love this book.
In this 1980 Japanese children’s book titled ‘Nontan’s Birthday’, a white cat called Nontan receives a surprise birthday party organized by his friends.
“I wonder what they are doing?”
Sensing something is up, Nontan tries to get a sneak peek at what his friends are up to but fails to see anything as they shut the curtain!
At the end, he is invited in to the house to find the table full of cookies shaped like him!
“Woow! Amazing! Me as cookies! Thank you!”
((Lucky cat. I wish somebody did a surprise for me like that too!))
The inside front & back pages has a really good cookie recipe that I want to share with you. It is ultra simple to make & its taste takes you back to sweet memory of childhood.
Nontan Cookie Recipe (with my extra notes):
> 80g of room temperature unsalted butter
> 80g of castor sugar
> 1 egg
> 200g of flour
> 5g of baking powder
> extra flour for dusting the surface
> raisins/ nuts/ etc for decoration optional
- 1. Cream the room temperature butter in the mixing bowl (cream it to the extent of it being as soft like mayonnaise).
- 2. Add the sugar & thoroughly mix until very airy & very creamy.
- 3. Mix in an egg.
- 4. Sift in the flour & baking powder to the mixture & fold it in. (Here, don’t be tempted to over-mix. Stop soon as you can’t see the flour. The flour will form gluten & the cookies will not rise as much & turn out tough!)
- 5. Wrap the cookie dough in cling-film & refrigerate for more than 30 minutes. (It loosens the gluten & the butter within will get solid again. If you don’t rest it the texture & the flavour will be sacrificed. Also, top tip for wrapping it in cling-film is to flatten it so that it cools quicker.)
- 6. Flour your work surface. Take ⅓ of the dough at a time & roll to 5mm thickness. (You wouldn’t want to roll it out all in one go because it’ll take up space & the dough won’t keep cold.)
- 7. Now have fun & make Nontan shapes. The book has the following suggestions;
… Cut 5cm squares & use a toothpick to dot a face pattern on it.
… Shape the dough like a face & use nuts/ raisins as the eyes & the mouth.
… Cut a cardboard contour of the face & using a knife, cut around it on the dough.
… Take some of the dough & add cocoa powder. Shape a big Nontan face & then use the cocoa dough for facial features.
- 8. Place on a baking sheet & bake in a pre-heated oven of 180 degrees for 10 to 15 minutes. (Half way through, you might want to change the direction of your tray in the oven so that it is evenly baked.)
- 9. Once baked, take the baking sheet off the tray & cool on a rack.
My son loves to make Nontan cookies. And I love that he enjoys baking, even if he’s handling the dough ’til it’s melting, or patting it so hard that it is too thin… not forgetting to mention the flour-y mess EVERYWHERE…
Normally my cookie baking rules are:
- to measure the ingredients precisely to the gram.
- to handle it less as possible. For example, never roll the same dough out more than twice because the extra flour from the work surface would muck up the delicate ratio of flour. it will also deteriorate the dough.
- to work quickly as possible, so that the butter in the dough doesn’t melt & deteriorate texture & flavour.
But for home-baking with my son, I’ll throw all those rules out of the window any day…!
(Glass of milk, a must.)
It was an eye-opener of an idea that he stuck the sprinkles in the holes to create rainbow-coloured facial features. He also gently pressed half of the fluted cutter to emboss a smile!(bottom left)