KUALA LUMPUR, Jan 21 — We may be stuck at home but the "festive snacking" must go on in the lead up to Chinese New Year.
Not only does it keep your spirits up (sugar rush!), it's a great way to connect with friends and family as we send out cookie gifts to them.
There are so many choices out there, it makes your head spin. So I thought I'd share my favourites here... these are definitely worth the calories:
1. Kuih kapit
What is Chinese New Year without these delicate confectionery with that distinct fragrance of coconut milk and egg.
Also known as love letters, they're painstakingly made over an open fire hence each piece is precious.
The ones made by the Lim family are a must-have for me every year. Crack open the recycled Milo tin and you can smell the rich coconut milk straight away. Each tin weighing 600 grams is RM20. You can also get peanut butter, chicken floss or duck egg variants of the kuih kapit.
The family runs a stall located at Bangsar Lucky Garden's open morning market that sells an assortment of cookies and snacks.
Try their peanut candy bars too (RM22 for 400 grams). The crunchy bars laden with fragrant peanuts are sprinkled with sesame seeds. You will find it is less sweet with a slight salty taste.
Their kuih bangkit (RM25 for 400 grams) is also a favourite with a melt-in-the-mouth texture and slight toasty fragrance. They also have a gula Melaka version.
Lim Family's Cookies, Lucky Garden morning market, Bangsar, Kuala Lumpur. Open in the morning during the market hours. You can also call Stella at 012-3061325 for orders too.
2. Hup Tou Sou
Millennials probably won't know this old school goodie that looks like a plain Jane. For those in the know, the hup tou sou is highly sought after for its ultra flaky texture that crumbles when you bite into it.
Interestingly there are no walnuts (hup tou means walnuts in Cantonese) in the original recipe but it doesn't matter as it is fragrant with a hint of salt that makes you crave for just one more cookie.
At Hang Sing Seafood Restaurant in Pandamaran, they make fresh batches of hup tou sou. The super crumbly texture is said to be the use of a secret ingredient, only known to the family.
From what we understand, it's not lard even though the texture is incredibly light and airy. Pair one or two cookies with a cup of hot tea to chase away any oily aftertaste. You won't be able to resist that addictive savoury hit.
Hang Sing Seafood Restaurant, 1, Jalan Jelai, Off Jalan Kim Chuan, Kawasan 9, Port Klang. You can WhatsApp 016-2378866 to order the cookies which have ready stock available.
3. Pineapple tarts
I am extremely biased when it comes to pineapple tarts as I make them myself. Nothing but homemade jam paired with a buttery base will do for me.
So far, the ones I cannot stop eating are Madam Lim's pineapple tarts from Melaka. The jam has a nice balance of sweetness and acidity that pairs well with the pastry tart base that is just buttery enough.
The tarts are supplied by the Bendahari Markets who bring these goodies from Melaka to the Klang Valley to help the small-time producers. It's worth ordering a few boxes to just enjoy at home.
For Chinese New Year, they are selling a cookie set for RM69, which will make a wonderful gift as it is paired with a red papercut card from Ray Handicraft.
There's Madam Lim's pineapple tarts (12 pieces), De Xing Lung Kopitiam kueh belanda or rolled up kuih kapit, and Juliet's kuih bangkit (48 pieces).
If you prefer to just order the tarts, it is RM19 for 15 pieces. There are Nyonya kuih, spice pastes, bak kwa and lots more from Melaka offered by the Bendahari Markets.
Delivery is on Saturday and orders must be placed at Bendahari Markets by Wednesday of the week.
Bendarahari Markets, Melaka. Just WhatsApp 011-2147 8437 for the form to order. You can ask for direct delivery to your place or do a self pick up at the appointed drop off stations. If you have a group for pick up orders, contact Melissa Chan at 012-3628274 for arrangement. There is a minimum number of orders needed.
4. Salted egg cookies
Peranakan cookbook author and chef Debbie Teoh's festive cookies are a real treat that everyone looks forward to every year. You can now pre-order the cookies as Teoh has opened up orders.
The salted egg cookies are a must. They have a lovely buttery taste and an addictive salty, sweet flavour combination. Warning: You may eat them all way before Chinese New Year. There's also a spicy variant, if you love a little heat.
Other treats to look forward to from Teoh's list are fragrant gula Melaka shortbread and the unusual onde onde cookie, where pandan flavoured shortcrust pastry is filled with grated fresh coconut cooked in gula Melaka.
Unfortunately the highly sought-after pineapple tarts' pre-orders have been filled up. Prices for the cookies range from RM30 onwards, depending on which item you select.
The fragile cookies are all packed with bubble wrap to keep them safe. You also have oxygen absorbers inside the boxes to keep it fresh for the festive season.
For the first time, Teoh will also be supplying a selection of cookies at Qra, the latest gourmet supermarket at Bukit Tunku. The cookies will be available from January 21 at the supermarket but follow Teoh's Instagram @debbie_teoh for updates.
The varieties available include the salted egg cookies (spicy and non spicy), cashew nut cookies and cheddar cookies. It's worth your time grabbing them here since the wait may be too long for pre-orders.
Pre-orders for the cookies can be made via WhatsApp to Debbie Teoh at 012-2200537. Qra is located at The Stories of Taman Tunku, Lot E1, E2 & F2, Persiaran Taman Tunku, Bukit Tunku, Kuala Lumpur.
5. Pecan cookies
Sure, we have the traditional peanut cookies everywhere or even the newer almond cookies but how about pecan cookies? PJ's Jam & Kaya Cafe offers up homemade pecan cookies that boast a fragrant nutty taste coupled with a lovely crumbly texture. Believe me, it's hard to stop at just one. We tried and failed miserably.
If you have a nut allergy, their butter cookies are also a great choice. Again, these are crumbly.
The cookies are sold for RM25 per jar. They also offer an Earl Grey sable and pineapple tarts for RM25 too. Currently, ready stock is available but if you wish to get them nearer to the Chinese New Year celebrations, you need to pre-order them at least three days in advance.
Jam & Kaya Cafe, PJ Palms Sports Centre, 1, Lorong Sultan, Petaling Jaya. You can order them for delivery via https://www.airasia.com/food/2085/jam-kaya-cafe or WhatsApp them at 016-4308931 for drive through pick ups.