The latest wave of COVID-19 restrictions may have dampened your Chinese New Year plans, but that is no reason to not stock up on snacks to feed your hungry guests when they pop by on their house visits. From the layered kueh lapis to the pillowy kueh bangkit and the best pineapple tarts in town, we have rounded up our favourite Nonya treats that deserve a place on your Lunar New Year snack tray.
Before we jump into our list of snacks, let’s backtrack a little: What is Nonya kueh and what is our obsession with it? Kueh (or kuih) is a broad umbrella term used for the bite-sized snacks or desserts found in Southeast Asia and while it is more commonly associated with Peranakan and Malay cultures, there has been an increase lately in Western-influenced kuehs—think Earl Grey kueh lapis, Ang Ku Kueh cakes, strawberry jam-filled kueh bahulu and more.
The one requirement of a good holiday treat is that it appeals to a variety of tastebuds. The perfect snack should be show-stopping—to appeal to the younger members of your family, mired in history—to demonstrate your understanding of heritage to your elders and most importantly, delicious. Rest assured, these treats score on all fronts.
If your idea of holiday snacks tends toward the more traditional, look no further than Ollella’s extensive range of lapis (“layered”) cakes. From the original butter variety to the brand’s signature spiced version and even a kid-friendly Nutella option, there’s something that will please everyone at this family-run establishment.
Or, if you are looking for something with a touch more of indulgence, opt for a set of kuehs from Atlas Handcrafted. Think gourmet, hand-made Nonya treats garnished with 24 karat gold leaf and locally grown, organic, edible florals. You can be sure that you are in for a visual treat.
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The grand dame of Singaporean cooking and Nonya food unveils a limited edition Pineapple Tart Cake this Lunar New Year. A rich butter cake sits atop a firm cookie-like tart base, with a layer of house-made pineapple jam tucked in-between. Brûléed pineapples and gold flakes complete the decadent confection, adding a prosperous and luxurious finish to this festive treat.
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Founded in 2016 by two Indonesian sisters, Ollella is a tribute to their family’s heritage of Kueh Lapis Legit—an intricate 20-layer cake lovingly and painstakingly made using the secret family recipe passed down by the sisters’ grandmother. Choose from their Signature Spiced Lapis, Butter Non-spiced Lapis, Prune Rum Lapis, Nutella Lapis, or their festive special—a Triple Huat Lapis that comes with salted egg yolk, chicken floss and chicken bak kwa.
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Pineapple tarts are, without a doubt, the mainstay of every Chinese New Year snack tray. If you are searching for something different to bring to the table this year, look no further than Kele’s Golden Osmanthus Pineapple Tarts. Created in collaboration with Gryphon Tea Company, you can expect Kele’s signature buttery, milky crust, now elevated with a fragrant floral note from Gryphon’s Golden Osmanthus Tea. Add to that, it comes topped with a premium pineapple jam and brushed with a layer of edible gold powder for a luxurious finishing touch
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Kim Choo Kueh Chang
Founded in the 1940s, there is perhaps no other brand more mired in history than Kim Choo Kueh Chang. On this festive occasion, pick up a box of their buttery Pineapple Tarts and Pandan Love Letters in addition to their signature rice dumplings (“kueh chang”). We are sure that your family will be impressed by their handcrafted delights.
Kim Choo Kueh Chang’s Pandan Love Letters can be purchased from their storefronts located along 60 Joo Chiat Place and 111 East Coast Road
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If you are the sort to eat with your eyes first, you can’t go wrong with Atlas Handcrafted’s range of Nonya kuehs. The brand works with local artisans to present their products (in this case, kuehs) in a visually attractive manner to appeal to modern tastes. Expect rainbow-coloured kuehs adorned with tropical flowers and topped with 24 karat gold for the additional sparkle. We can’t think of a more stunning way to usher in the new year.
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On the hunt for something new to add to your repertoire of kuehs? You might want to check out Mrs Kueh’s range of desserts. The popular Pandan Kueh Salat is a safe choice but if you are looking for something special to bring to the table this year, opt for the putri ayu, a soft pandan cotton cake with steamed shredded coconut and fresh kaya. With a name that means ‘Pretty Princess’, this kueh is sure to delight your little ones.
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The Coconut Club
There is no one more versed in the art of kuehs than Christopher Tan. The author of the best-seller The Way of Kueh partners with The Coconut Club to shine a spotlight on three lesser-known heritage kuehs: Kueh Sarang Semut—a springy yet soft kueh with a honeycomb texture, Kueh Bakar Tapai—a lush custard with a golden butter-brushed crust and Nagasari Pisang, an eggless coconut milk custard steamed in banana leaves for its gentle fragrance.