Be a smart cookie, surprise your guests
WHY settle for run-of-the-mill new year snacks when independent bakeries are coming up with unusual versions of their own? We take a bite of their offerings.
OUT OF THE CAKE BOX
Block 45 Telok Blangah Drive #01-173
Open Tues to Fri, noon to 8.30pm; Sat, noon to 9pm; Sun and public holidays, 10am to 5pm
The folks behind Out Of The Cake Box bakery must take their shop name very seriously - at least that is the message they seem to be sending with their range of Chinese New Year offerings this year.
Their most daring flavour is easily the chix (chicken) skin pineapple tarts ($22.80 for 16 pieces), which taste a lot less questionable than the name suggests, although the product might work even better without the pineapple.
They are clearly not afraid to be heavy-handed with the spices either, which is why their green curry tempeh cookies ($18.80 for 220g) deliver a potent kick of spices and basil.
The cereal prawn cookies ($18.80 for 220g) give a pretty decent impression of the popular zi char dish.
CARPENTER AND COOK
19 Lorong Kilat, #01-06
Open Tues to Sat, 10am to 10pm; Sun, 10am to 7pm
Carpenter and Cook offers a harmonious mix of old and new with its treats - as befits a vintage furniture shop and bakery. The hae bee hiam cookies ($19.80) set the standard in executing local-styled savoury sweets, with a buttery shortbread crumb that keeps the shrimpy flavour in check.
Even the hae bee is made from scratch because off-the-shelf products just do not go with its dough.
If hae bee or ikan bilis cookies ($19.80) sound a little fishy to you, go for safer choices such as cranberry cornflakes ($18.80) or chocolate sea salt sables ($15). The latter is a bestseller (and rightly so) on its regular menu. The items are quite a steal, considering they all come in proper glass jars.
458 Joo Chiat Road
Open Tues to Thurs, Sun, noon to 10pm; Fri to Sat, noon to midnight
Salted egg yolk cookies are a cliche by now and many do not live up to the hype, with just a faint whiff of briny goodness.
But Sinpopo keeps it fresh by adding curry leaves and its version ($15) delivers a punch with dense flavours packed in thin, crumbly discs.
You can get a hamper at $88, which includes two bottles of this treat, and also items off the regular menu such as the signature gula melaka cake and sugee biscuits. The latter two items are quite well done but are overshadowed by Sinpopo's rich and moist browned butter sugee cake. The latter is a deceptively simple treat ($7/slice; $30/whole, order in advance).
Items made to order
Sandra Liao wrinkles her nose at the mention of cereal prawn cookies, which are everywhere this season.
The baker and founder of MilkBar is not into fads but loves "cheeky" takes on classics.
Her spiced cashew cookies ($35) are a play on traditional peanut cookies and have enough cardamom to make them pop, though we can do without the dusting of icing sugar.
The seaweed meringue ($30 a jar) is a must-try - think of it as a riff on matcha meringue. The unsalted seaweed cuts through the sugary light vanilla base so it is not too cloying.
The outfit does custom bakes too, and products are made-to-order only, so Ms Liao can consult on edgier flavour pairings for your goodies.
Do not expect 3-D or rainbow cakes though - MilkBar is a passion project and she is currently keeping her day job just so she does not have to cave in to nonsensical trends.
Block 30 Bendemeer Road #01-889
Open Tues to Fri, 11am to 7pm; Sat, 10am to 7pm; Sun, 10am to 6pm
Need your bak kwa fix but cannot deal with the long queues snaking around the block outside Lim Chee Guan? Then you might want to try the bak kwa sesame cookies ($25 for 250g) from Bloomsbury Bakers, which contain generous chunks of "good bak kwa", according to co-founder Ann Chong.
Alternatively, the outlet also has pork floss seaweed cookies ($25 for 250g) which are a little light on the pork floss but are buttery with a satisfying crunch.
122 Owen Road, #01-01, Suites@Owen
By appointment only
Flourish's cookies tend to have very strong accents - the salted egg yolk blossoms have a very sharp and salty finish, whereas the lucky green pea cookies sport a golden roasted flavour that lingers in your mouth.
Even the pineapple spheres hide an unexpected surprise, with sparingly added crystals of sea salt that keep each bite exciting - a tasteful embellishment.
All bottles are priced at $22.
Block 3A Clarke Quay, #02-02
Open Mon to Fri, 11am to 2.30pm, 6pm to 11pm; Sat to Sun, 10am to 3pm, 6pm to 11pm
If you are addicted to crispy salmon fish skin, then you might want to stay away from Peony Jade Restaurant's newest addition to its Chinese New Year goodies selection - salted egg yolk-flavoured crispy salmon fish skin ($22.88).
Though the salted egg flavour could use a tad more kick, these crunchy bad boys will have you finishing up an entire bottle before the first guests ring the doorbell.
Also good are the cereal prawn cookies ($32.88) which boast a bold twist - lemongrass flavour.
The lychee cookies ($32.88) would suit those looking for something sweet.
And for the kids, there is the limited edition "Triumphant Harvest & Longevity" set ($118.88) which features handmade chocolate monkeys in honour of it being the Year of the Monkey.
THE BUSINESS TIMES