It's still Ramadan at the moment. Hari Raya or Eid is coming soon. When I was still living in the Far East, one of the sweet cookies I remembered popular during Hari Raya is Kuih Momo. In Brunei and East Malaysia, these cookies are commonly known as Kuih Momo and in West Malaysia I think they are more commonly known as Kuih Makmur.
Other than Hari Raya, we also make these cookies for Chinese New year. Thus they are some kind of celebration cookies.
These cookies are very rich with ghee with a strong milky flavour. The icing sugar (confectioner sugar) coating makes them look like snow balls. The characteristic of kuih momo is it should melt/crumble as soon as you pop one into your mouth. Thus they are very fragile to handle.
For the recipe there is one unusual traditional step not known in western baking. It's to dry roast (stir fry) the flour prior to mixing the dough. Strange but it works to ensure the cookies melt/crumble easily. I have seen recipes heating the flour in microwave, I find this method unreliable because microwave can lead to uneven heating and burning spot.
Here is the recipe I have been following since I knew how to bake in my young teen. Years ago we never follow an exact quantity recipe, the mix was always by eye or feel only.
250g plain flour or all purpose flour
40g icing sugar (if you like a sweeter taste, add up to 75g icing sugar)
75g full cream milk powder*
150g ghee (clarified butter)
1/4 tsp salt
1 egg yolk
1 egg yolk
about 1/2 cup sifted icing sugar (confectioner sugar)
*Full cream milk powder is not common in UK. It is available in some big supermarkets like Sainos at the Asian products shelf, or in most Asian, Chinese or Middle Eastern grocery stores. If you prefer not to use or cannot find full cream milk powder, can sub with skimmed milk powder granules. Granules need to ground to powder using a coffee grinder or mini blender.
- Add flour to wok or frying pan. Dry fry at medium low heat for about 5 - 6 minutes. Keep stirring the flour to avoid burning till flour becomes very hot and smells lightly nutty. Remove from heat and leave to cool.
- Ground salt with 1 tsp of the dry roasted flour using pestle and mortar to a fine powder. Add this to flour.
- Add milk powder and icing sugar.
- Mix dry ingredients together then sieve, break up any large lumps with fingers, remove any remaining gritty grains.
- Melt ghee in microwave for about 20 - 30 sec. Beat in the egg yolk.
- Pour ghee and yolk mixture into the dry mixture. Mix with a folk or spoon then finish by rubbing with fingers till dough is evenly mixed.
- The dough is crumbly but should form a lump when squeeze together.
- Take a handful of dough, squeeze with hand to form a lump then break it up into smaller pieces. Squeeze each small piece again into a rough lump. Continue forming these little lumps.
- Lightly roll each lump between palms into a ball without pressure or it will crumble. Size of the momo balls is up to you. I like them quite small about 1.5 - 2cm diameter.
- Place balls on baking tray (pan) lined with parchment paper, arrange balls with some space for expansion.
- Preheat oven to 160deg C. Put the tray of cookies in the oven, lower heat to 140 deg C fan oven (or 150 deg non fan oven), bake for about 12 - 15 minutes till light golden. Momo balls will expand slightly after baking.
- Leave to cool for few minutes till cool enough to pick up by fingers. Then coat generously with icing powder. They are very fragile, be gentle and don't crowd the bowl.
These kuih momo will keep fresh for couple of weeks in airtight container.