Kuih Bangkit (Tapioca cookies) – a popular Chinese New Year favourite
Kuih Bangkit is one of the classic Chinese New Year cookies beside Kuih Kapit and pineapple tarts which are adored by Penangites. What makes this traditional snow-white Nyonya cookie good is the aromatic smell that welcomes you the moment you bite into the crispy outer later which then melts in your mouth to a powdery softness.
Making Kuih Bangkit is relatively easy. The dough is pressed into carved wooden moulds of various Chinese zodiac animal or floral designs. After baking, the cookies are often decorated with a red dot using a toothpick which has been dipped into red die. The red dots are usually applied to the eyes of the Zodiac animals. Much care is needed as the cookies are brittle and crumble easily.
- 150 g “Butterfly” brand cornflour
- 600 g arrowroot flour (lu-lu hoon)
- 1-2 pandan leaves, cut into 3 cm lengths
- 3 egg yolks
- 150 g castor sugar
- 250 ml thick coconut milk, extracted from 1 grated coconut
- The preparation of ingredients begins a day earlier. You need to fry cornflour, arrowroot flour and pandanus leaves in a wok under low fire until the flour is light and it doesn’t stick to the side of the wok. This should take about 30 minutes. Transfer the flour to a container and leave to cool overnight.
- A day later…
- Whisk egg yolks and castor sugar until thick. Next add santan (coconut milk) and stir gradually. Add enough flour and knead the combination for about 5 minutes to form a pliable soft and flexible dough. Use as much flour as you need. This is the tricky part – you gotta ‘agak-agak’ (guesstimate). As long as you get a soft and flexible dough then it’s good to go.
- Lightly dust the moulds with the remaining flour. Take a small piece of dough and press into the mould. Trim the excess dough off with a butter knife or a baking spatula. Then knock the mould gently on the table to dislodge the cookies.
Arrange the cookies on a baking tray and bake for 10-20 minutes in 150°C.
- Add red dot using toothpick to the eyes of the animals. Cool them and store in air-tight containers.
When you have a ‘wet’ dough, you will find difficulties to dislodge cookies from the mould. Add some flour and re-knead. When you have a ‘hard’ dough, you will find the dislodged cookies in crumbly state. Add some coconut milk and re-knead.
Remember to cover the rest of the dough with a damp cloth while you’re busy moulding Kuih Bangkit as the dough will harden up.
Written and photographed by Adrian Cheah
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