Over the last weekend, Muslims all over the world celebrated Eid to mark the end of the blessed fasting month of Ramadhan, and the beginning of the new month of Syawal. Muslim families of various cultures celebrate Eid in their own distinct way. Here in Singapore, besides Eid prayers and the visiting of relatives on the day itself, I personally find that celebrations here start on the eve of Hari Raya Puasa (the Malay name for Eid), with last-minute flurry of activities that last till the wee hours of the morning. The home is given a fresh makeover with an intensive bout of spring-cleaning, new curtains and house decorations are bought, festive chasing lights (pictured above) are placed by the window or within the house, ethnic clothes are purchased or tailor-made months in advance, and of course, as with any other festivity, the ladies busy themselves in the kitchen to prepare exquisite dishes for Hari Raya.
Intricate leave-woven dumplings containing packed rice, or ketupat (shown above), seen to be almost synonymous with Hari Raya celebrations, are either handmade or bought, alongside its rice counterpart called lontong, to be served with Malay signature dishes like beef rendang, kuah lodeh, ayam masak merah and serondeng. Little jars or containers will be filled to the brim with colourful festive cookies (both traditional and modern), and placed on the table to be served to guests over the coming days and weeks. For some, the eve of Hari Raya will also be the time to send bottles of cookies, or prepared dishes to family members or parents as a sign of good will.
Others will also find it the most apt time to visit homes of relatives and home bakers to collect their ordered rolls of traditional cakes such as the kek lapis (layered cake), kek lapis Sarawak, kaya-filled swiss rolls, along with popular cake choices such as marble cake and chocolate cake. And then there are people like yours truly, who would remember last minute to stock up on graham crackers and sweetened condensed milk;– apart from the essentials, of course;– to prepare the non-bake Kek batik marie (pictured below, posted here last year, but recipe reprinted below for easy reference) in case of emergency, i.e. guests expected to visit over the next few days exceed the depleting supply of cake(s) on the table.
The ease of preparing kek batik marie makes it not only a perfect last-minute addition to the table, but also a simple gift to bring along while visiting your friend or relative, who I’m pretty sure would not mind another dessert on the table. And of course if you have that extra time on your hands, and that special person is a cookie monster who coincidentally loves cheese, and as much as you abhor it and don’t eat cheese, you can’t resist but to tweet one of your friends, asking for her much sought-after biskut keju (cheese cookies) recipe. Big shoutout to my tweep, @sugarspunsista;– the mister loves the cheese cookies!
And much love to all of my Muslim readers, subscribers, clients and twitter followers. I wish you all a blessed and most joyous Eid-ul’fitri. Selamat Hari Raya, Eid Mubarak!
Batik Marie Cake
(adapted from here)
100g milo (any sweet chocolate malt powder will do)
25g cocoa powder
125ml boiling water
200ml sweetened condensed milk
90g white granulated sugar
5 eggs, lightly beaten
250g Marie biscuits (any graham crackers will do), broken into rough quarters
- Grease and line a 23cm x 9cm x 7cm deep loaf tin (or other loaf tin with a capacity of at least 5 cups or 1.25L) with baking paper, extending paper 2-3cm above edge of tin.
- In a deep saucepan, slowly add boiling water to milo and cocoa, stirring vigorously until it is smooth. Add butter, sweetened condensed milk, sugar, and eggs to the mixture.
- Place the saucepan over moderate heat and cook, stirring all the time with a whisk or a spoon, until you feel the bottom starts to thicken, about 5 minutes.
- Turn heat down to low, and continue to cook, stirring without stopping, for about another 20-25 minutes until a thick custard forms. (refer to recipe notes)
- Turn off the heat, and stir in the quartered biscuits. Mix until all the biscuits are coated with the custard.
- Transfer mixture to the prepared tin. Press down firmly so there are no air pockets in the mixture. Fold the paper extensions over the top and press down to even the surface. Then let cool to the touch.
- Cover with cling film, and refrigerate overnight.
- When the cake is firm, use the paper extension as handle to pull the cake out of the tin. Slice and serve chilled.
It may look like the custard will never thicken, and when it already has, you may feel like it has thickened enough. I’ve found that the best way to gauge is when the mixture is reduced to about half of its original amount, and when stirring, you can actually see the mixture coagulate together, scraping off the sides of the pan perfectly; i.e. you don’t see any liquid remnants at the sides of the pan.
Biskut Keju (Cheese Cookies)
(recipe courtesy of Yanni @sugarspunsista)
250g plain flour
1 egg yolk
1/2 cup grated cheddar cheese
1/4 cup grated cheddar cheese
1 egg yolk for brushing
- Combine the main ingredients until a soft dough forms. Pat the dough out to a circle, and chill in the fridge for about 30 – 45 mins.
- Remove from the fridge, gently roll out to your desired thickness and cut out using your cookie cutter.
- Brush the surface of the cookies with egg yolk, and sprinkle grated cheese.
- Bake at 180°C for 15mins, or until golden brown.
Previously on Ramadhan Baking:
Brown Butter Buttons