Kuala Lumpur Cookies

(Kuala Lumpur Cookies)

After spending a considerable amount of time on holiday, I’m now back cooking in a commerical kitchen and admittedly, I’ve really missed it. Several years, a few kitchens and a couple of unpleasant experiences ago, I really thought I was done with the whole business. What I’m rediscovering however, is that if you love cooking but occasionally feel discouraged, it’s probably because you just haven’t found the right place yet.

Of course, the only way to find the right place is to keep working, keep pushing yourself. Cooking school may be great, but it doesn’t teach you work flow, a sense of urgency or how to move in the tight space of a bustling, sweaty kitchen. You meet all kinds of characters when you work in the industry. The adage that they are a special breed rings true in every place I’ve ever worked in. Singing baristas, grumpy bakers, OCD pastry chefs and angry-shouty head chefs; you’ll meet them all. You’ll even learn a thing or two from them; always about how to work and sometimes about yourself.

Currently my new job is teaching me how to manage multiple ovens and handle dough (one day, I may be able to give Miss Smilla and her snow a run for her money). At the same time I’m also rediscovering little things like how short and small I am compared to high storage shelves, heavy flour bags and unwieldy baking trays, and how completely clumsy I can be (paper cuts from baking paper, anyone?). In the past I’ve smashed my thumb instead of a stubborn walnut with a heavy pestle, walked straight into a hot oven door (red faced from embarrassment and the impact of said door), and inexplicably burned my chin several times on silly things like the edge of a hot tray and the tip of a blow torch (the less said about that, the better).

Last week, someone at work commented twice, that my English was ‘really good’. I pointed out that since I am older than her, I have actually been speaking English for much longer than she has. Although I’ve been living in Australia for what feels like most of my life, I was originally born in a small town near Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, and am occasionally reminded of that place.

These cookies are based on the much loved Monte Carlos which are typically sandwiched with vanilla cream and raspberry jam. I filled mine with home made kaya jam (flavoured with fresh pandan leaves), and as an ode to the place where I came from, am calling them Kuala Lumpurs.

Kuala Lumpur Cookies :
(makes 18-20 filled cookies)

185g unsalted butter, at room temperature
100g light brown sugar
pinch of sea salt
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 small egg
40g dessicated coconut
290g plain flour
2 teaspoons baking powder

kaya jam, for sandwiching the cookies

Preheat the oven to 175’C.

Sift the plain flour and baking powder together and set aside. In an electric mixer, cream the butter, brown sugar and salt until pale. Add the vanilla extract and egg, mixing well. Add the sifted flour mixture along with the dessicated coconut and briefly mix on low until just combined. Roll tablespoonfuls of mixture into balls and place on lined baking trays. Gently flatten each cookie with a fork. Bake for about 15 minutes or until golden brown. Allow to cool on a wire rack before filling and sandwiching the cookies together.

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  1. Rayna said,

    July 22, 2013 @ 6:21 am

    This looks too delicious! Thanks for sharing!

  2. chocolatesuze said,

    July 22, 2013 @ 9:56 am

    the tip of a blowtorch!? 0_o um take care man! your cookies look awesome but really i just want to sit in the corner and eat kaya with a spoon.

  3. anh said,

    July 22, 2013 @ 11:04 am

    Congrats Y! I am excited for you 🙂

    PS: Love these cookies. I will make a batch really soon.

  4. shez said,

    July 22, 2013 @ 1:37 pm

    I’m so glad you’ve found your way back into a kitchen, even if it’s peppered with inconveniences and inconceivably thick minds at times. Kaya in cookies sounds perfect, though like Suze, I’m more inclined to eat the home made stuff unadulterated.

  5. Helen (Grab Your Fork) said,

    July 22, 2013 @ 2:21 pm

    Hah if they’re not asking where you’re from, they’re trying to guess it. I recall customers insisting that I really didn’t look Chinese but another country entirely. “Thank you and have a nice day” didn’t really sum up what I wanted to say instead.

    But as for the Kuala Lumpurs – I can’t believe noone else has thought of them before. I’m hoping you’ll be able to sway your current workplace to introduce these as well. Pretty please?

  6. Rosa said,

    July 22, 2013 @ 9:17 pm

    Wonderful cookies! I really like that kaya filling.



  7. Steph said,

    July 23, 2013 @ 8:38 am

    These look so wonderful, would love to see your kaya recipe! I think I share your clumsiness in the kitchen, I haven’t had a blowtorch injury yet (ouch!) but I have stabbed myself through the finger with a knife while cutting an avocado, it was impressively uncoordinated. But it’s great to hear you’re back in a commercial kitchen!

  8. Dileeni said,

    July 23, 2013 @ 8:35 pm

    The timing of this post couldn’t be more perfect. Your advice seems ss though it has been written just for me…Plus your past clumsiness gives me hope for my future!! So many mysterious cuts on my hands!

    Loving your blog 🙂

  9. e / dig in hobart said,

    July 24, 2013 @ 2:42 pm

    i love reading / seeing behind the scenes stuff like this. i feel like i am perching on a stool at one of those open-kitchen cafes peering in to the action.

  10. Reemski said,

    July 25, 2013 @ 3:29 pm

    Wow, your written english is very impressive! 😉

  11. Denise said,

    July 26, 2013 @ 1:21 am

    This is so heartfelt, because of the cookie and stories. Baking cakes & cookies inspired by non-Asian cultures has always been my daily routine at the cafe. Sometimes we bring in some traditions, though we do have a pandan cake & black sesame cookie for old times’ sake. I wish we could just keep our heritage alive more often than it is happening in this day and age.

    Happy baking & working at the kitchen!

  12. milkteaxx said,

    July 26, 2013 @ 1:04 pm

    congrats on a new role! your baking never fails to amaze us! keep up the good work!

  13. Anna said,

    July 28, 2013 @ 1:27 pm

    I’m glad to hear you found a kitchen 🙂 and those cookies look awesome! Now stop burning your face please.

  14. Lia said,

    July 31, 2013 @ 11:02 pm

    hey! barry showed me your blog and I love it! I love baking (mainly cause of Agnes) and I’m going to try these cookies later :)xx

  15. Y said,

    August 2, 2013 @ 3:41 pm

    Hi Lia! What a nice surprise 🙂 Thanks for your comment! x

  16. PM said,

    August 17, 2013 @ 5:36 pm

    So good to hear you’ve found your groove again! 🙂 People can really make or break a place. Congratulations on finding your place. You are one extraordinarily creative, clever chef and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise!

    I must come for a visit soon! 🙂


  17. Lisa said,

    August 18, 2013 @ 9:41 pm

    These cookies are genius, I looove kaya! I totally relate to the kitchen clumsiness and I too have managed to get a paper cut from baking paper!

  18. mandy said,

    August 22, 2013 @ 7:44 am

    couldnt agree more with what you said! 🙂 from one oversea malaysian pastry gal to another.

  19. Phuoc'n Delicious said,

    September 6, 2013 @ 9:47 am

    Y!!! I <3 you!! You sing to my heart.. I too was born in KL but am pretty much Australian as I came here when I was 2 months old. As soon as my parent's oven is fixed, I'm going to make these biscuits.

    I found it extremely funny when you said someone (younger than you) commented on your English being very good because I swear, I had the exact same experience a couple weeks ago. This young removalist lad (early 20s) was helping me move out of my apartment, he asked "So how long have you been here for?" I assumed he was asking about how long I've been at the apartment so I said 1 year. I gathered that it was not what he meant when he replied back with "Oh your English is really good.."

  20. Karl said,

    October 13, 2013 @ 4:39 pm

    Nothing like getting back into the commercial kitchen after some time away. Its so hard to cook when your traveling isnt it…even simple things like salt and pepper you need to buy again. I have lived in many countries and that is always one of the issues. By the way the cookies look great 🙂

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