Chinese New Year treats with a twist
YOU have less than two weeks to stock up your Chinese New Year snack trays. But don't panic - here's a list to give you a head start.
30 Penhas Road
If you can't get enough of yusheng at your reunion dinner, finish off with one - the dessert version, that is. Antoinette's Pang Kok Keong's creation is a large chocolate egg on a "nest" of auspicious sweets such as chocolate fish, ingots and coins, mandarin-orange butter cake and meringue kisses.
A wooden hammer is brought out and a lucky diner cracks open the egg to reveal fresh fruit such as pineapple, Thai green mango, red dragon fruit, and pomelo, all diced and shredded. A dressing made from mandarin orange, plum and gula melaka is poured over the dessert, followed by the communal tossing.
Thanks to the chocolate and the dressing, this yusheng is a real sugar overdose, but will ensure a sweet year ahead.
Queen's Yu Sheng is available for dine-in or takeaway at $88++ each, and serves six to eight people. A one-day advance order is required.
YANG YANG COOKIES
Yang Yang Cookies is a family-run confectionery which prides itself on baking from recipes passed down through the generations in the Yang family.
The goodies includes kueh lapis and pineapple tarts. Check out the green-pea and almond cookies, both retailing at $18.80 each.
The green-pea cookies taste of real and crunchy roasted green peas, while the almond cookies are sugee cookie-like crumbly with a melt-in-the-mouth texture and satisfying nutty bits.
The pineapple tarts are little niblets of buttery and crumbly pastry that don't dissolve into a pasty mess in the mouth, with a good portion of jam. It's easy to keep popping them into your mouth, so be warned.
TRUE BLUE CUISINE
47/49 Armenian Street
Still hunting for that perfect pineapple tart? The ones from True Blue Cuisine, a Peranakan restaurant in Armenian Street run by chef-owner Benjamin Seck, come pretty close.
The tarts are made according to a Nonya recipe handed down from his great-grandmother. In the old days, lard was used, but that has since been replaced with butter.
The pineapple jam is just the right amount of sweet and sour, while the pastry is firm and almost crunchy. Aside from the restaurant's regular-sized tarts, it offers a larger version, both at $33 a tin. Also available are addictive prawn crackers ($25), love letters ($38) and kueh bangkit ($22).
Block 333, Kreta Ayer Road, #01-14
This newly opened patisserie is started by sisters Georgina and Glenda Sim. Pastry chef Georgina honed her skills at Le Cordon Bleu in Paris.
Their Chinese New Year offerings aren't the usual suspects. There is the Choux Trinity, the signature choux that comes with three delectable creme fillings: Earl Grey, Matcha and Valrhona Guanaja. It is priced at $16.80.
There are also the Shortbread Cookie Jars, filled with crumbly and buttery shortbread cookies made with French butter. There are three flavours: peanut, which comes topped with roasted, chopped peanuts; pandan; and coconut that is flavoured with coconut cream and topped with toasted coconut flakes.
The coconut shortbread tastes very much like kueh bangkit, but with a more buttery texture. They are priced at $22.80 each, or $18.80 each when bought in a bundle of three.
TIONG BAHRU BAKERY
56 Eng Hoon Street, #01-70
Celebrity French baker Gontran Cherrier gives his take on Chinese New Year with the Pineapple and Coconut Tart. If you can't take another mouthful of sticky pineapple jam, this version turns the fruit into a light and smooth mousse that fills a crisp sugar cookie base, topped with light coconut Chantilly cream and a white-chocolate disc. A bit of glitter from edible gold leaves completes the auspicious look. Each tart costs $8.50.
OUT OF THE CAKE BOX
45 Telok Blangah Drive
Step out of the box this Chinese New Year and try the adventurous creations by Out Of The Cake Box - a three-month-old bakery in Telok Blangah. The chendol fudge cake (its version of the traditional kueh lapis) tastes just like the popular icy dessert, but in a more practical, solid cake form that won't melt into a soup as soon as you take it out of the fridge.
It's made up of layers of gula melaka sponge, gula melaka coconut fudge and traditional chendol ingredients, topped with a gula melaka agar agar ($23.80 per box).
Also try their atap chee pineapple tarts ($23.80) that have just a hint of atap chee flavour so it's not too overpowering, and the cereal prawn cookies ($18.80 per box) which are actually more prawn and curry leaf flavoured than cereal, but still equally satisfying.
THE BUSINESS TIMES