Monday, January 6, 2014

Kueh Bangkit / Kuih Bangkit: The Best Traditional Melt-in-the-Mouth Coconut Cookies

When I was growing up in Singapore, my grandmother and I used to bake a lot together for every Chinese New Year. Kueh Bangkit is always one of the goodies in our list. I miss being my grandmother's little helper... I often help her to cut, bake, transfer, stack and distribute the cookies. I know that my grandmother likes my companion as I was following her instructions very diligently. I'm also her little quality-control manager, testing all the cookies to make sure that they are in good shapes and quality that made us proud when we served them during Chinese New Year. I know that my grandmother is very critical with her food, cooking and baking and she would never serve yucky food to anyone and this makes me, her little fatty food critic very important role in her kitchen... LOL!

My grandmother and I have not been baking together for the past 25 years. Sadly, my grandmother's back and health deteriorated and she had to stop cooking after she moved to live in my parent's place. My grandmother passed away last year and all I want is her Kueh Bangkit and pineapple tart cutters. These are exactly the ones that we used 25 years ago...

Kueh Bangkit? Kueh Bangkit is a traditional Nyonya Chinese New Year delicacy. The word, bangkit can be somehow translated as fragrant cookies. It is a cookie that crunches when you bite but melts in your mouth as you chews. Traditionally, they are made of sago flour or in a combination with tapioca flour, mixed to form a cookie dough with thickened coconut milk. These days, sago flour is not easily available and so most Kueh Bangkit are now made with tapioca flour.

I like to bake Kueh Bangkit for this Chinese New Year but I can't remember the recipe from my grandmother that we did 25 years ago. And, so I Goggled and searched my cookbooks and found three interesting recipes. One is from KitchenTigress who is always the first hit whenever I do a Google search with the word, Kueh Bangkit. Two is from the book, Growing up in a Nyonya Kitchen: Singapore Recipes from my Mother by Sharon Wee. Three is from Cooking Pleasure by Kimmy which is almost the exact replicate of recipe Two. I like to adapt these recipes and bake recipe One and Two/Three to see which one is the best.

When I was baking with grandmother, I remember that the consistency of the Kueh Bangkit can vary on different baking days and sometimes, it can be quite difficult to replicate the same good batch of Kueh Bangkit. My illiterate grandmother didn't really know why and all she tried is to agak agak (means estimate in Malay language) as much as she can. After reading KitchenTigress's Kueh Bangkit post, I have realised that water / moisture is mainly the reason. To combat this moisture problem, these are a few things that we can do:

1) The moisture of tapioca flour has to be thoroughly removed by baking for about an hour or "dry-frying" with low heat in a wok or pan.
2) Most tapioca flour contains 10-12% moisture and weighing the tapioca flour before and after drying helps to know if the moisture is effective removed.
3) The water content in coconut milk can be quite high and that's why all the recipes that I have came across emphasize that the coconut milk used should be thick or thicken.
4) Use coconut cream instead of coconut milk. According to KitchenTigress, coconut cream can be easily made by refrigerating until the cream separate.
5) For less fuss and better consistency, I prefer to use canned coconut cream as making your own coconut cream can vary in its water content.

Some of you might say that canned coconut milk or cream are not as fragrant and natural as the freshly squeezed ones. Yes that I have to agree with you but the water and fat content of coconut milk from different coconut can often vary dramatically. For this reason, I prefer to use the canned ones for my baking because it produces better consistency.

For Chinese New Year 2014, my family, bake-along with Joyce from Kitchen Flavours and Lena from Frozen wings and my wonderful baking memory with my grandmother, I am baking these Kueh Bangkit. They melt in our mouth and melt my heart too...

Which recipe is the better one? KitchenTigress (kt's) or Cooking Pleasure's (Kimmy's)? My answer will be revealed soon...

Best Kueh Kuih Bangkit Melt-in-the-Mouth Coconut Cookies
Kueh Bangkit: Traditional Nyonya Coconut Cookies
I like to discuss the fat content of coconut milk/cream. Please use the fattest option to bake these cookies!
Cooking the flour with pandan prior baking helps to remove its water content and give it a hint of pandan flavour.
Christmas is not over yet!!? Cooking tapioca flour on the stove makes my kitchen a snowy wonderland... LOL!
Notice that kt's dough is so much smoother than Kimmy's one
I'm using this wooden mould that I bought from Sonia (Nasi lemak Lover) and these special priceless cutters from my grandmother.
The dough made with Kimmy's recipe was difficult to handle and so I gave up using the wooden mould totally.
Eventually, I managed to bake heaps of heart and stars cookies using Kimmy's recipe.
The dough made with kt's recipe was easier to handle. I baked them as leaves and pear-flower-shaped cookies.
Taste-wise, which is better?
We all prefer Kimmy's!!!

These are the adapted recipes that I have explored:

Recipe One is from KitchenTigress
Recipe Two/Three are almost the same and they are from the book, Growing up in a Nyonya Kitchen: Singapore Recipes from my Mother by Sharon Wee and Cooking Pleasure by Kimmy.

The coconut cream that I used for both bake is Ayam brand. The fat content of Ayam brand coconut cream is 29.3g/100g (saturated: 26.4g/100g) which is only 5g more fat in every 100g as compared to the regular Ayam brand coconut milk (24.3g /100g fat, saturated: 21.6g). 5g fat only? I'm surprised seeing this difference but I prefer to use coconut cream for the little extra creaminess. In regardless, please DO NOT USE the lightest Ayam brand coconut milk which contains 13.4g/100g fat, saturated 12g/100g.

Method used for both recipes is mostly adapted by the book, Growing up in a Nyonya Kitchen: Singapore Recipes from my Mother by Sharon Wee and also Cooking Pleasure by Kimmy.

Place flour (plus flour and salt) and pandan leaves in a large-surface pan. Cook flour with low heat and constant stirring until flour become light and the pandan leaves become dried and "crispy" looking (about 15-20 mins). The dried-looking pandan leaves will be a good indication that the flour is cooked enough. Otherwise to confirm, weigh the flour before and after cooking and if the flour is cooked enough, the difference in weight should be approximately 10%. Allow the cooked flour to cool completely. Remove and discard the pandan leaves. Sift flour and set aside. According to Kimmy, this step can be done days ahead. Alternatively, the tapioca flour can be cooked by baking it for about an hour but I prefer to cook it on the stove because this method is more energy efficient and less time consuming. Although it is true that cooking tapioca flour on the stove had made my kitchen "white" and "snowy", mixing the dough had made my kitchen "white" and "snowy" anyway. It didn't make any difference as I had to clean up my kitchen either ways.... mop mop mop...

Besides dry-frying the amount of tapioca flour required, please remember to cook some extra (about 1 cup) for dusting and shaping of kueh bangkit too.

Using an electric mixer with paddle attachment, beat eggs and sugar until creamy and the sugar is totally dissolved.

While beating in lower speed, add flour and butter into the egg mixture and mix until well incorporated. While mixing in low speed, gradually add coconut cream bit by bit until the dough looks smooth.

Remove the dough from the electric mixer and knead it until it is smooth and doesn't stick to your hand. Cover the dough with a damp cloth, rest for at least 30 mins.

Preheat oven to 180°C or 160°C fan forced. Line baking trays with baking paper and dust the paper with excess dried flour. Lightly dust worktop and rolling pin with extra dried flour too.

6. To shape:
i) either roll portions of the dough to 3 mm thick, dusting as necessary to prevent sticking. Cut dough with dusted cookie cutters. Place cookies on baking tray spaced 1 cm apart. Optional: decorate the cookies using a crimp to give them a traditional look.

ii) dust the wooden Kueh Bangkit moulds with dried flour, pinch portions of dough and press them into the moulds one by one. Trim off any excess using a knife.Knock the shaped dough off the mould and arrange the cookies onto the prepared baking tray. Note: As most of the dough made with Kimmy's recipe was stuck in the wooden mould, I had given up this shaping method completely.

Bake in a preheated oven for about 12-15 mins or until their bottom or the sides are slightly brown with light hint of colour at the edges. Transfer cookies to a wire rack to cool completely. Serve or store in airtight containers.

Why we prefer Kimmy's recipe?

I would like to start by showing how I tabulated and calculated to the recipe that I have adapted above:

KitchenTigress's recipe is first converted to 500g flour in total and I have used half of the recipe as Recipe One in the above table.

As you can see, both Sharon's (the book) and Kimmy's recipes look very similar and I have standardise both and used half of the recipe as Recipe Two in the above table.

Depending on the sizes of cookies cutters, recipe one (kt) yields 65 cookies and recipe two (Kimmy) yields 110 smaller cookies. With less sugar, it is obvious that the cookies made with recipe two is less sweeter. Strangely, the difference in sweetness doesn't make any difference to us. In fact, it is the texture that matters!

The slight difference between two recipes is the proportion of egg and egg yolk used and also the presence of plain flour in recipe one (kt). Otherwise, all other ingredients apart from the sugar, egg and egg yolk, the presence of plain flour are almost the same. You know what? I'm totally surprised that this slight difference does yield a lot difference in both dough and cookies texture! The dough made with recipe one (kt) was extremely easy to handle while the dough made with recipe two (Kimmy) crumbled easily and made rolling and cutting quite difficult. Ironically, the cookies made with recipe two (Kimmy) is so much more delicious that the ones made with recipe one (kt) as the Kimmy's ones crumbled and melt in our mouth. In contrast, kt's ones were slightly crunchy and a little chewy if they were under-baked. For this reason, I have baked Kimmy's cookies for 12 mins and baked kt's for 15 mins.

My conclusion: I can't help to think that the kueh bangkit recipe that uses more egg yolk and less egg white with all tapioca flour is obviously better.

Happy Baking
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Please note that the linky tool for bake-along is no longer available.


  1. Hi Zoe , boy , do those cookies look delicious . I also agree with you about the milk coconut milk or cream is the best by far , thanks for sharing :)

  2. Hello Zoe
    Happy New Year to you! I intend to bake Kueh Bangkit for this coming CNY too. I admire your post for doing experiment and comparison on two recipes. Nowadays recipes varies different in ingredients and methods too, so we have to try out which one suit to our taste.

  3. wow zoe, kueh bangkit is my fav too, but i always fail to make a nice kueh bangkit.

    thanks for sharing all the good tips and this article is definitely a keeper.

  4. these days, i am also my own QC... everything goes into my own mouth... wuahahaha... of course, a moment on the lips, forever on my hips... and they are growing by the day -_-#

    you just reminded me why i avoided the kueh bangkit... heh heh... but this is one good post. i enjoy comparisons of recipes and analyses.. i could practically hear drum roll when you said the results will be revealed soon... i shall bookmark this... though i would gladly give you my address if you can courier one "gong" for me kakakkaka.....

  5. Very tedious to make but delicious, I have tried baking this before years ago but did not yield any melt in the mouth cookies lol! I have thus given up the thought of making some for myself since I have a regular supplier who makes very good bangkit...good of you to work out the difference for us to refer to, pinning this for future reference, if I am in the mood for some snow in the kitchen:p

  6. Hi Zoe, I love kueh bangkit but very consuming to make them :D Please share some with me and I'll pass my pineapple shortcakes to you.
    Thanks for reminding me to join this month Bake Along.

    Happy Baking!

  7. Hi Zoe, Happy New Year! Awesome post. It almost had me tearing up in the beginning, it reminded me so much of the times with my ah ma too :) Enjoyed your analysis of the recipes and thanks for sharing, hope to try making some of them too.

  8. Love your comparison table Zoe.. they were really a huge help!!!

    i love kueh bangkit too but nvr had e courage to do them yet as too much "work" is involved..but den agn, which bake doesnt involve much "work"?? hehehe

  9. The character of kueh bangkit is melt in mouth texture. It seems you manage to get it! I baked before and I find that frying the tapioca flour is the most tedious task. I don't think I will make for this year. Thanks for sharing the tips.

  10. i was thinking of making some kuih bangkit too and was also looking up some recipes...and i found one in nyonya penang book that uses arrowroot flour, i am very keen to try...will see how..and i think the best is the one that suits individual taste. applaud your effort in making the comparisons between the two recipes :D

  11. I love the smell of pandan, and I love your cute little cookie cutters. :))

    REAlity Bites

  12. These cookies look so great! Wonderful tea time treat.

  13. Hi Zoe, my gf loves Kuih Bangkit. You are so "geng," did such a detailed test on different recipes. The shapes are also cute too!

  14. Thanks for the info, Zoe!
    Ok. Will try out Kimmy's recipe. Yes, I'll prefer to use the cutter to the wooden mold.

  15. I love these! My grandma used to bake them but now that she's old and easily tired. She has passed down the 'kungfu' to her daughters. Means my mom and aunts. It melts in the mouth! And honestly, other than homemade, I don't think anyone can find awesome ones out there!

  16. Kuih bangkit is something not to be missed during CNY. Almost every household will have kuih bangkit in their cookie jar during CNY.

    And nowadays, they have macam-macam, like pandan flavoured kuih bangkit. I used to put the whole thing in my mouth and let my saliva melt the cookie, haha.. I don't hold it in my hand and bite becoz it will crumble the floor and people with OCD will curse me to death, keke..

  17. These cookies sound wonderful Zoe! Thank you for sharing the story of making these with your grandmother, I'm sure she will be happy to know that you made these while thinking of her. They turned out beautifully :)

  18. Oh I didnt know this was a Nyonya cookie... looks pretty!

  19. Hi Zoe, I love kuih bangkit, love the coconut flavour and the melt in mouth texture!!! Yummy....

  20. Hi Zoe,
    You have done really well with this traditional cookies. These cookies certainly brings back nostalgic memories for most of us. I used to help my mom to make these too and the wooden moulds and pinchers are still in Malacca. Planning to make these cookies as I have not baked these in years! Wishing I have some to melt in my mouth right now!

  21. You've done a good job by sharing with us the comparison of the two recipes. This kuih bangkit is laborious, made before but doubt I'll make them this year.

  22. Hi Zoe, I am probably not baking any CNY goodies as I am still sorting and giving away cookies and chocolates from Xmas hampers and gifts we have received. I will be away too but will be back for CNY. Love your grandma's bangkit cutters.

  23. Hi Zoe, I wasn't in mood of blogging since the passing of my youngest brother on Christmas Day. Today, I happened to drop by your blog and saw your posting on Kuih Bangkit. I'm extremely happy that you have gone through the trouble to test. share the recipes and proved that it's a workable recipe. Just this morning, I met a friend who tried the recipe and told me, she failed. I made a batch last weekend, it was as good. Why? I think the kneading before the moulding is very crucial point. Kneading before make the dough not crumbly at all. I used a bigger wooden mould, the dough doesn't stick at all even without dusting it with tapioca flour each time I mould the cookies. Can I link this post to my post on Kuih Bangkit so that more people are confident to try it? Thanks.

    1. Hi Kimmy,

      I'm sorry to hear the passing of your youngest brother. My condolences.

      Of course, you can post a link of my kueh bangkit at your kueh bangkit post if you are baking these cookies again. You can also link with us with our bake-along until 27 Jan 2014.

      You are right that the wooden mould that I used is too small and everything stick to the mould like crazy... I was afraid too to over-work my dough with too much kneading and good that at least rolling and cutting the cookies worked for me.

      Please take care.


    2. Kimmy, you are so good to take the negative comment so positively. A true spirit of a good blogger.

      Zoe you had done a wonderful job with this comparison. Thumbs up!

  24. Hi Zoe, well done! very detailed analysis on Kuih Bangkit recipe. This is my fav, hopefully I can make it one of these days before CNY. Thanks for sharing your findings! :)

  25. Thanks for doing such a detailed job comparing the recipes! Now I know which one to use.

  26. Thanks for the step-by-step, Zoe. I feel more confident about baking these now ^.^

  27. Zoe, another research and development and this time it's Kueh Bangkit. Good for you and good for us! These cookies were my late grandfather's favourite. When I was a kid, I used to enjoy putting these cookies into my mouth and feeling them melt!

  28. Zoe, Zoe, Zoe,
    This is myum's favourite.
    Was thinking of baking some, this CNY for her. Now your recipe comes in handy for me :D
    Thanks for doing the comparison table.

  29. Zoe, it is common for me to add sago flour. Your failure to mould in Kim's recipe is a good sign of melt in the mouth. Texture and shape is always a trade-off. I totally concur with Kim that light handling is very important in this cookie. Crumbly dough is a good sign ..Have a nice day

  30. Please refer to my video, 4:22-4:27. It shows me crumbling my kueh bangkit between two fingers. And 4:15-4:18 shows me breaking my kueh bangkit with a pair of chopsticks. The recipe I use isn't mine but Mrs Wee Kim Wee's. I leave it to your readers to judge whether my kueh bangkit is anything remotely like yours using the same recipe. KT

    1. Hi KT,

      The Mrs Wee Kim Wee's recipe that you used is easier to handle but has less melt-in-the-mouth crumbly taste that Kimmy's recipe. I must admit that the texture might be different depending on the type of coconut cream used and I guess this might be the major difference between mine and yours.

      Yeah. You are right that it is best to leave the readers to judge... I guess preference can be very opinionated and some might prefer Mrs Wee Kim Wee's recipe (published at your blog) if they prefer a dough that is easier to handle and use the kind of coconut cream that you have suggested... Well, it is really up to the individual and all I can do is to be as honest with my opinion as possible.



    2. Dear KT,

      I hope that you can stop going around in circles and even trying to defend yourself by using offensive words like stupid and coward to be published in your and my blog.

      You are right that it is best to leave the readers to judge... and so I hope that you can allow this matter to rest.


  31. Hi Zoe, where can I get the Ayam coconut milk in canned form? Couldn't find it in ntuc n cold storage. What I found it's the packet drink kind of packaging.

    1. Hi Astina,

      The Ayam coconut milk in Australia are available in canned form. No worries at all if you are buying the coconut cream in other forms of packaging or brands, just make sure that its fat content is about same. Cheers!


  32. Hi Zoe, for the amount of tapioca flour needed, do we base it on before frying or after frying it?

    Thanks in advance

    1. Hi Evelyn,

      Please weigh the amount of flour that you need after frying. Cheers!


  33. Hi Zoe. Thanks for your detailed wrote up. I have Sago Flour, Tapioca Starch and Arrowroot flour. Which would you recommend that I use to get the best melt in the mouth Kueh Bangkit? Thanks.

    1. Hi Teresa,

      I'm sorry that I have not compare the use of different flour to make the best melty kueh bangkit and can't tell you which exactly to use.