Sorry for the late post, we’ve been camping.
Today’s Malaysian Monday item is a biscuit/cookie called Mama Carries. I have absolutely no clue about the origins of this name, but have been smitten by the cookie since the day I was given one. These biscuits are usually made for Hari Raya (Day of Celebration). In Malaysia, each festival is celebrated “Open House” style. The person celebrating will literally throw open the doors of his/her home to a steady stream of friends, colleagues and acquaintances who are treated to festive food and drink. Each community offers different types of food. For Hari Raya, one can usually sample rendang (a type of curry) and ketupat (rice cakes wrapped in coconut leaves), and myriad kuih raya (celebration “cakes”). These kuih raya usually take the form of cookies and there is a whole spectrum of inventive cookies to choose from.
Mama Carries is actually made up of a basic shortbread style base, covered with royal icing, then decorated very prettily by swirling some colour or cocoa through the icing.
There are many variations of the base recipe and I adapted a recipe found here (three variations are given at this site but it is in Bahasa Malaysia). Some recipes use egg, others don’t, and almost all call for milk powder as an ingredient but I sub with milk instead. I decide to add an egg yolk so that I can then use the resulting white for the icing.
The fun part of course is decorating the cookies. Although it looks tricky, the “pictures” are actually done by feathering a selection of stripes, swirls and spots.
Enjoy! And to all my friends who are celebrating today : “Selamat Hari Raya Aidilfitri, Maaf Zahir Batin”.
(A TWS version)
250g plain flour
180g butter (cut into cubes and softened at room temperature)
80 g icing sugar
1 egg yolk
1 tbsp milk
¼ teaspoon baking powder
dash of vanilla extract
Sift the flours and baking powder together. Beat the butter and icing sugar until creamy (I did this by hand because I didn’t want to overwork the mixture). Whisk in the egg yolk and vanilla extract - beat well. I then switched to a rubber spatula and used this to work in the flour by “cutting” and smearing the mixture together.( I assume a pastry scraper would do a better job.) Work until the mixture comes together in a soft dough. Pat the dough into a disc and wrap in clingwrap. Refrigerate for at least half an hour.
When ready to use, take a portion of dough and roll out to desired thickness (chill the unused portions). It helps to work on a well floured surface or a pastry mat. Cut out shapes (a simple shape will let the decoration stand out better) and place on a baking tray lined with baking paper.
Bake in a pre-heated oven on medium heat (about 160˚C) until cooked – don’t let it brown too much. Let the biscuits cool for a little while (on a rack) before decorating.
225g icing sugar
1 egg white
Mix the sifted icing sugar into the egg white to obtain a just flowing icing. If icing is too runny, add a little bit more icing sugar. If too stiff, thin with a drop pf two of water. Store in an airtight container with a piece of clingwrap pressed to the surface of the icing to prevent it from drying out.
If using raw egg poses a concern, royal icing mixture can be purchased from cake decorating suppliers. Just follow the packet instructions.
Use either a few drops of food colouring mixed with a bit of the royal icing to thicken, or a small amount of cocoa powder mixed with enough water to form a paste. I have also seen recipes calling for chocolate emulco.
Place slightly cooled biscuits on a baking tray. Using a teaspoon, drop a little of the royal icing onto the biscuit and smooth out with the back of another clean teaspoon or your fingers. Then, use a toothpick to dip into the cocoa mixture and make stripes or dots on the royal icing. Drag a new, clean toothpick back and forth through these stripes/spots to create patterns. Feel free to experiment and draw your own pictures.
Royal icing dries out really quickly so keep the container of icing tightly covered and transfer a little at a time into another bowl to use. It also helps to work only on one or two biscuits at a time.
To help with the drying process, place the tray of completed biscuits in the still warm oven (make sure the oven is turned off and not too hot otherwise the egg white will bubble and cook instead of drying out)). They will also dry at room temperature.
Make sure the biscuits/cookies are completely dry before storing in an airtight container.