More Chinese New Year cookies!!! Beehive cookies, honeycomb cookies, kuih loyang, kuih rose or we call it "kueh lobang" (in Hokkien) even, seeing these cookies makes the perfect indication that that the big festive season is just around the corner. My maternal grandma loved this, mom and all her sisters loves this and I loooove this. Sounds like something to do with the XX chromosomes eh? lol. Mom is not one that particularly likes baking. She easily gets impatient when it comes to baking. These beehive cookies are probably the only type of cookies that I have seen her making in our kitchen, apart from a couple of other cakes all of which are specialties of hers. So some years when mom's into the cookie-making mood, we'll be having this readily in the kitchen. Other years, we would just buy them!
This brass mould was a real treasure of my maternal grandma. It was passed down to mom for a good decade or two and when I moved here, mom made sure I brought it along with me. So old it sure is. But with it you can see how sturdy, strongly built, precious and especially meaningful it is to me. And of utmost importance, it never disappoints! So good I have never really considered looking for a brand new, shiny, perfectly polished moulds in the market even if that means that I can expect to spend a lot of time working with just one mould in hand.
As much as we both love this, we couldn't help rambling and grumbling each time we had to buy these cookies. Well yet we did it time after time, again and again lol. For some really basic and simple ingredients used in its making, the hefty price printed on the price tags do make it a little hard a fact to accept. But then again I have to agree; they do have good reasons to be so well priced after all.
Making this is like a battle against the heat. Physically you will have to endure the heat as you stand in front of the wok patiently frying them away - another reason it always drives mom away from the idea of making this back at home. I was spared the agony here; the freezing cold weather outside made it all so nice for me to be working with some heat indoor. And then comes the battle of heat between the batter and the oil. You will have to spend a moment experimenting in the beginning and adjusting thereon. I made 44 pieces in total in this batch; 3 got beyond recognition (way too browned - the hot oil won hands down intimidating the batter lol); another 2 was kind of lacking in presentation and appearance (the batter and oil started getting used to one another nevertheless lol). But once you have managed to reach that equilibrium between them, the rest of the story is about maintaining the flow and keep the connection steady in between the two.
This is my fourth time making these beehive cookies and it comes with plenty of trials and errors going on still. Using a recipe I adapted from My Kitchen Snippets on her post on Kueh Rose/Kueh Goyang this time around with just some minor adjustments, this recipe is by far the best recipe that has given me a batch of beehive cookies that really look like what their name suggests lol, not forgetting the promised crunch and mouthfeel that come in a package. Look out for the few extra notes that I penned down alongside the methods as they get laid out. Some simple points, but they are exactly the little details I will usually pay attention to for a batch of nicely shaped beehive cookies (although I do tend to forget them myself and thus a need for some self-reminder here).
Beehive Cookies 蜂窝饼
Adapted from My Kitchen Snippets
Makes 44 cookies
250g rice flour
4 tbsps all-purpose flour
200g granulated sugar
400ml thick coconut milk
1/4 tsp salt
enough cooking oil for deep frying
1. Break the eggs into a mixing bowl. Add in sugar followed by the coconut milk and whisk until the sugar gets dissolved.
2. Sift together the rice flour, the all-purpose flour and the salt. Add this flour mixture to the mixing bowl in (1). Whisk until they combine really well.
3. Heat up enough cooking oil in a wok on high heat. Make sure that the oil is well heated before you begin. I have it tested with a wooden chopstick. A stream of tiny bubbles seen as the end of the chopstick is dipped into the oil indicates that the oil is ready. Turn the heat down to medium. Place the brass mould into wok and let sit and preheat for about a minute.
- Working with just one single mould throughout the whole frying process, I could only deal with two cookies comfortably at any point. So I needed cooking oil just enough for two cookies to swim around spaciously. The oil must be hot enough to begin with so that the cookies won't get all so greasy in the end.
5. Transfer the mould into the hot oil, keeping it immersed for about 15 seconds. Lightly shake to free the cookie and leave the mould in the hot oil.
- As you remove the brass mould from the oil, lightly shake off any excess oil. If these extra oil drippings ended up in the batter, they may change the batter consistency and its clinging ability. As the mould gets dipped into the batter, you will hear some faint sizzling sounds as the batter starts adhering to the mould. Leave undisturbed for about 5 seconds to secure the adhesion before lifting the mould up and away.
6. Let the first cookie fry while you bring in the second cookie repeating steps (4) - (5)
- As you plunge the mould with the batter back into the hot oil, make sure that the mould does not come into contact with the bottom of the wok. Leave it fully immersed in mid-oil while you make the 15-second countdown. That 15 seconds let the batter cook and take shape lightly. Shaking the batter off too soon and too hard will make the outermost layer "open up".
- There is a chance that the cooking oil is still a tad too hot and the first few cookies will get burnt. But as the frying goes, the batter will tame the heat down gradually. Mine only got right as I went into my 5th cookie. And as I entered my 10th, I had to turn the heat up to medium-high. So check the heat about every 5 cookies and adjust it accordingly in between medium and medium-high.
7. When the first cookie has turned golden brown, remove the cookie and drain on a sieve.
- With the second cookie in the wok, I likewise let it cook on the mould for about 15 seconds before shaking it free. By now the first cookie would have just picked up a tinge of browning. You will notice how the browning is usually concentrated on the bottom half while the floating top will appear paler in color.
- Using the mould, I would lightly place it on top of the first cookie so that the whole cookie gets immersed in the hot oil (again make sure the cookie doesn't touch the wok). Hold it there for another 10 to 15 seconds. The wave action from the heat beneath the wok will continue shaping the cookie. And at the end of it you'll notice a nice and even change of color on the cookie. Now you can let it float and brown a little more on its own. Yup, no flipping required. It won't take much longer from there. Leave the mould in the hot oil meanwhile getting it ready for the next cookie.
- The cookie takes its final shape the moment it gets removed from the oil and exposed to the cool air, hardening them. When you remove the cookie from the oil, be sure to use either a flat spatula/sieve or the cookie will take whatever shape you let it rest on. Turn the cookie over as it rests on the spatula/sieve. The gravity will keep the cookie structure intact and neat (especially the outer layer). Let it cool down lightly before transferring it to a plate lined with a paper towel, face down.
8. Repeat steps (4) - (7) until all the batter has been used up.
9. Let cool completely and store in air-tight containers.
- When the batter level gets too low for the mould to be fully dipped into, pour the batter into a smaller bowl before you continue.