One of the integral things about Chinese New Year are the cookies that come along with it. Ask any Chinese person, and they’ll have their favourite Chinese New Year cookies/snacks. My top 3 are: groundnut/peanut cookies, arrowroot chips, and pineapple tarts.
Kuih bangkit is a Nyonya/Malaysian Chinese New Year cookie made from coconut milk, tapoica flour, sugar and eggs. It has a very characteristic texture: crispy on the outside, and soft on the inside – in fact they should melt in your mouth once you get past the crispy exterior. (And yes, ‘melt in the mouth’ seems to be a must for most Chinese New Year cookies!) Mum & dad aren’t huge fans of kuih bangkit, so I never ate much of it growing up. Not compared to groundnut cookies anyway!
The other characteristic of kuih bangkit is the lovely designs you get when you use traditional kuih bangkit molds. The original molds are made from wood (and all hand-carved), whereas you can get plastic ones nowadays.
I’d heard from countless people that kuih bangkit are tricky little morsels to make, as whilst they look fairly simple, it’s not easy to get the right texture of crispy outsides/melty insides. I always like a challenge, so I thought – why not? Plus I would get a chance to use freshly squeezed coconut milk (“santan”), which is nigh impossible to find in London.
The most time consuming bit of making these is the cooking of the flour… the aim is (I believe) to get rid of the ‘raw’ taste of flour. Cooking the flour takes anything from 60-90 minutes. But it’s not the cooking/stirring that is the problem, it’s the fact that tapoica flour sends minute particles of flour all over your kitchen each time you stir it. I kid you not when I say there was a thin layer of flour over all the kitchen counters! (For those of you who haven’t worked with tapoica flour before, it’s similar to corn flour, i.e. lets out puffs of ‘flour dust’.)
Whilst the taste of these little babies were great, I wasn’t altogether happy with their texture, as they weren’t crispy enough on the outside. Plus they cracked a little, meaning the lovely intricate designs on the kuih became less pronounced. I’m hearing conflicting things when it comes to kuih bangkit – are they supposed to crack, or not? If any of you know, please do let me know, as it would be good to know err.. what to aim for.
I won’t be sharing the recipe for these kuih bangkit, as I don’t want to post a recipe I’m not happy with. Rest assured though that I will be making this again to try perfecting the recipe for next year!
Till then, Happy Chinese New Year to all of you! May the Year of the Dragon bring you happiness, good health, and good food.