Dragon Cookies

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Once a year, in late January or early February, Chinese New Year comes along celebrating the next animal. Chinese New Year isn’t as extravagant in Australia but in recent years, the festivals in the Chinese dominated suburbs have gotten larger and larger.  I have never experienced an “authentic” CNY in Malaysia, where my parents were born, but they have certainly tried to bring their Malaysian/Chinese culture to Australia. One of the things I love doing is making treats and snacks to celebrate CNY and one of the tastiest treats is the Dragon Cookies. These cookies are so light, it should practically melt in your mouth as soon as you put it in there! It should be crispy and easy to break. It has such a pleasant, slightly buttery flavour but I can’t really describe it. All I know is, it tastes good. Check out the recipe from Home-made Cakes & Pastries – The Best of Patsie Cheong, it’s so easy to make!

Dragon Cookies 

Ingredients

150g Butter

150g Icing Sugar

2 Egg Yolks

1 Egg White

 

300g Cornflour

30g Milk Powder

60g Plain Flour

1/2 tsp vanilla essence

 

Method

1. Place the softened butter, icing sugar and eggs (yolks and white) in a bowl.

2. Beat until creamy and light.

3. Slowly stir in the sifted cornflour, milk powder, plain flour and then stir in the vanilla essence.

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4. Put it in a piping bag and press out the pattern. This mixture can get quite soft if it’s humid, so it’s best to do this part quickly.

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5. Put in oven, bake at 150C for 15 mins or until hard all the way through. (Should come out light yellow in colour) Leave to cool.

6. Enjoy!

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Impressions

This is a really simple recipe, but the “Dragon Cookies” can be easily to overcook if you don’t keep watch of them in the oven. As you can see, a few of mine are a tad too golden brown. However, they still taste good, it’s just doesn’t melt in your mouth as well. I have made this every year for the past couple years, and if you have kids it’s great fun for them to pipe and try different shapes, letters, or anything you can think of.

Pineapple Tarts

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Pineapple Tarts are one of my favourite Chinese New Year treats. That’s not to say you can’t have it any other time of year but these bite sized pieces are even more joyous in times of celebration. I’ve always loved the sweet and slightly sour pineapple filling with the buttery dough that melts in your mouth. Also these tarts come it various sizes or shapes that always makes it more appealing.

Probably every year we try those home made Pineapple Tarts sold in your typical local Asian Grocer and it’s always a tad too sweet and the tart isn’t as soft as I would have liked. So I have wanted to try to make my own tarts for ages but the thought of making the filling just seemed like too much effort.

However, It just so happened we ended up having large, old pineapples sitting around so what else could we use it for but pineapple jam? My mother was the one wh  actually  made the jam, just from adding pineapples into a pot and letting it dry up and adding sugar so I don’t know the exact quantities she used, I think just tasting as she went along and added sugar when needed. However, I’ve provided a recipe from one of my favourite Asian/Malaysian Food websites, Rasa Malaysia for the filling and pastry. We did use the pastry recipe from there and I think it worked out quite well, you can read my impressions further down.

Rasa Malaysia’s Pineapple Tart Recipe

Pineapple Filling

Ingredients:

4 large pineapples
300 g sugar
1 clove
1 inch cinnamon stick
1/2 star anise
250 g liquid glucose
2 Tbsp wheat flour or wheat starch (Tung Mein Fun)

Method:

1. Slice and grate pineapples till fine. You can use a food processor do grate it.
2. Strain the grated pineapple till dry.
3. Let it simmer in a wok toll the juice has dry up. Add sugar and, star anise, cinnamon stick and clove.
4. Stir till the pineapple has thickened and dry. Add maltose or liquid glucose.
5. Stir till the pineapple filling is thick, sticky and dry.
6. Add wheat flour. Continue to stir for about 10 minutes or until filling is dry.
7. Leave to cool and shape into small balls.

Note : You can make the filling in advance and refrigerate it.

Pastry

Ingredients:

500 g butter
140 g powdered sugar
4 egg yolks
650 g all purpose flour
1 Tbsp cornflour
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp vanilla essence

Egg Brush

1 egg yolk plus 1Tbsp water

Method:

  1. Preheat oven at 150° C.
  2. Cream butter and sugar till white.
  3. Add in egg yolks and beat at low speed for 1 minute.
  4. Fold in flour gradually.
  5. Insert pastry into cookie press and press into strip of about 3 inch each. (Or just take a small spoonful of the pastry,  flatten it and take another spoonful of the jam and use your hands to shape it into a ball)
  6. Put the rolled pineapple filling onto the pastry and roll it up.
  7. Brush with egg brush.
  8. Bake for 30 minutes or when tarts is light golden brown in color.

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You can shape these tarts any way you want, and as mentioned in the Rasa Malaysia recipe, they roll it up like a sausage roll of sorts. We stuck to the ball method and just used a fork or a toothpick to engrave the lines on to make it look more like a pineapple.

You can also use a mold designed for these tarts and they come in various shapes like a flower or hearts. I’ve purchase one from Brown Cookie but for since this particular dough is quite soft it gets quite difficult to remove from the mold.

Impressions

The pastry recipe is surprisingly very good as just how I like it! It’s soft and simply melts in your mouth as you take a bite. I’ve actually made this a number of times since my mother had made an enormous quantity of pineapple jam.

It really does depend on how you like your pineapple tarts, some like the shortbread style tarts that are slightly harder and crisper but I’m a big fan of these softer tarts. If you’re like me and prefer these ones, this is a great recipe to try.

Chinese New Year and Lantern Festival (Glen Waverley)

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So it seems like I live in Glen Waverley since that’s all that I post about but I live 20 minutes away. It’s just the closest place to eat good Malaysian food.

I’m also very late with this post since this was held on the 13th Of February.

So I think in the last couple of years, the City of Monash has been holding and celebrating Chinese New Year with their own festival with food stalls and performances. Similar to the Box Hill, Crown Melbourne and China Town ones but for the South-East Melburnians.

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Stalls are spread out all along Kingsway, one of or the only day where cars are blocked from passing through. There were several performances on the stage and on the street. It’s really great to see the Chinese culture here in one of the more populous Chinese/Malaysian suburbs in Victoria.

Check out the Lion dance pics below (With Vids at the bottom of the page)

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IMG_4965Kevin Rudd came to visit and was welcomed by the Lion Dance performers.

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I believe the man in the mask is some kind of traditional show thing but I’m not entirely sure.

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The two lions do some amazing hops and jumps on those small pedestals. Check out my vids of it further down the page.

The ending where the lions catch the scrolls. I have no idea what it says on it, I’m completely Mandarin illiterate.

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Fire Crackers! Many kids covered their ears. Hehe
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Photo Op!
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A lot more people than last year, it’s good to see everyone celebrating CNY and just having fun really.
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Satays and more satays
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Most stalls had Fried Rice Cakes aka Char Koay Kak, one had a huge line. Obviously the good stall or people are just sheep.
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There were many other stalls too selling even Dutch Pancakes or Japanese sweet and savoury snacks and some drink stalls with the very sweet but delicious Sugar Cane drinks.

Check out my vids below (Sorry for the cut offs every couple of minutes, my camera does strange things)

All in all it’s always good to have some of the Chinese culture in Australia. I’ve never experienced an authentic Chinese New Year Festival in Malaysia so this is as close as we can get.

Many thanks to all the performers and participants in helping this Chinese New Year and Lantern Festival a success and I believe the Monash Council, I assume they have contributed towards this.

Looking forward to next years festival, and hoping it’ll get bigger and better every year.