The round ones in front were just by pinching small pieces of dough and roll them into balls – they still looked very good if you don’t want to use piping bag to pipe out the cookies.
Recently, a forum member asked about a type of cookies from Singapore’s Bengawan Solo called Cassava Cheese Cookies at Kitchen Capers forum. I have never heard of these cookies before, so was very curious about them. I was also a bit dubious about the term ‘cassava’ in the name. For me, I always link the term ‘cassava’ with the fresh root of cassava, whereas I would use the term ‘tapioca’ to refer to the extracted starch of cassava. Cassava cookies? I thought the fresh root would be too ‘juicy’ to make cookies! So I thought the name must refer to the tapioca starch and not the fresh root!
After googling the English name, not a single recipe came up. So as usual I suspected that they might be Malay-style cookies, as I have come to the conclusion that Malays are fantastic bakers – they have a wide range of recipes for cakes and biscuits that have yet to be discovered by us of Chinese ethnicity. Thus I tried Malay terms ‘sagu’ (for sago, as ‘tepung sagu’ usually applies to tapioca flour as well – since sago flour and tapioca flour are usually interchangeable) and ‘keju’ (for cheese), and guess what? Quite a number of recipes popped up. Although the curious thing was, most of them were in Indonesian! So they are Indonesian cookies. Although that should not have surprised me one bit, as Indonesians are fond of adding cheese to their cookie pastries. And I also found out from Bengawan Solo website that the company was founded by an Indonesian, so there…
These cookies are very similar to our Kuih Bangkit, except they use margarine and/or butter in place of the coconut cream, and of course the addition of cheese. They are also piped out instead of using Kuih Bangkit moulds, hence the inclusion of ‘semprit’ in their names, and ‘kue’ of course is the Indonesian spelling for ‘kuih’.
I finally decided on one recipe and since I have about 50g of fresh parmesan cheese in my refrigerator, I decided to use it instead of cheddar. I also never ever buy margarine for baking, as I don’t like the ‘burnt plastic’ smell, so I used all butter. Another thing was the coconut milk in the original recipe, I hated opening a big tin of coconut milk just to use a little of it. So I opted for coconut milk powder instead (which at least can be kept for quite a long time in the refrigerator), and use the egg white to replace the liquid content of the coconut milk. I then baked them with these adjustments.
And, boy oh boy, are they additive or what? I love them and couldn’t stop eating them. They did tasted very similar to Kuih Bangkit, crispy on the first bite and then melt-in-the-mouth texture with a cheesy taste. Like eating Kuih Bangkit with those Chinese New Year Cheese Cookies at the same time. Definitely a new discovery for me and a fantastic one too!
Makes approx. 75 small cookies
85g butter, softened
85g caster sugar
1 egg, separated
170g tapioca starch *
2 pandan leaves
50g parmesan cheese, finely grated
15g (about 2 tablespoons) coconut milk powder
* I actually started with just over 170g of starch, after drying in microwave oven and sifting, I ended with just about 155g of dry tapioca starch.
1. Wash and dry the pandan leaves, and then cut into short sections. Put tapioca starch and pandan leaves on a piece of kitchen paper and put into the microwave. Cook on HIGH for 1 minute. Remove from microwave and transfer onto a new piece of kitchen paper. Put back into microwave and cook on HIGH for another minute. Remove the tapioca starch and sift it into a mixing bowl; set aside to cool. Preheat oven to 150°C.
2. In the meantime, cream softened butter and sugar until pale and fluffy. Beat in egg yolk until well mixed.
Finely grated parmesan cheese
3. Add sifted tapioca starch, finely grated cheese and coconut milk powder to the creamed mixture. Mix well. The dough will be crumbly at this stage.
4. Lightly beat the egg white and add gradually to the crumbly dough until it just clumps into a smooth dough. You may not need all of the egg white; or you may need more.
5. Transfer the dough into a piping bag fitted with a 1cm star nozzle. Pipe out into small flower shapes.
6. Bake for about 18-20 minutes; the cookies should remain light golden in colour, so don’t let the cookies get too brown. (I did over-bake some of mine slightly.)
Taste: Melt-in-the-mouth cheese cookies
Consume: Best within 1-2 weeks
Storage: Store in airtight containers
Recipe Reference(s): Biskut Sagu Keju from Recipie Today