Miss Sweet 16 went up north to the town of Ipoh (about 2 hours drive from Kuala Lumpur) in Perak recently and she bought me some delicious goodies. She has always been very sweet and generous especially to her chee muis (sister in Cantonese) like me. How not to share with you guys huh? Hehheh...
Inside the goodie bag, there is this packet of spice biscuits.
They looked oh so pretty in spirals and the brownish part is where the spice part of the biscuit. From what I gathered after one mouthful of it (whilst photopgrahing them, hehehe me greedy greedy, can't wait hahaha), the spices in there may have contained 5 spice powder, cinnamon and pepper but I may be wrong. The label doesn't help much as it just mentioned spices as one of its ingredient. The biscuit is rather thick and its slightly chewy instead of crispy. Rather wonderful texture to munch on whilst savouring the spices taste.
Now, this is how typically a packet of hiong pheng (literally translated as Fragrant Biscuit in Cantonese. It's a type of Chinese pastry found here in Malaysia.) looked like in the olden days. The hiong pheng bakers knead the dough and slap on the sticky muk ngar thong (maltose in Cantonese) mixture in the centre. Roll into a ball before flatening it. Sprinkle some sesame seeds on top and they are then sticked (err due to the stickiness of the dough actually) on the sides of a cylindrical charcoal oven to be baked. Strangely such pastries are usually found in a few towns located in Perak state ie. Ipoh (the city of Perak), Sitiawan (where the concentration of the FooChow clan is located. BTW, I'm a FooChow gurl from KL who can't speak a single word of the dialect. Oit, don't blame me ok cos my grandfather don't speak to my dad in FooChow since my grandmother is a Cantonese.) , Bidor, Kampar and Tanjung Malim.
The hiong pheng has very very crispy pastry that practically breaks when one bites into it. Kinda messy when one bite into it. The pastry practically "fly" everywhere! And when you bite into the centre, the filling is soft, sticky and chewy... striking a very contrasting balance indeed. Hmmm... lovely!
Thank you Miss Sweet 16! She bought these goodies here (I presumed) as stated on the goodie bag. Hey, next time drive the bigger car and bring me along ok ;-)
OK, now the modern version of hiong pheng packaging looked like this. These were given to me by my colleague whom balik kampung (go back to hometown in Malay, a very famous two words used especially during the festive seasons where the town dwellers will back back to their home towns scattered across the country) recently to Kampar. Each hiong pheng is individually wrapped in foil packaging to ensure freshness. I must say the modern packaging does served it purpose well cos each biscuit is extra crispy and fluffier. However, to the die hard fans of olden method of packaging, this particular bakery DOES have the usual plastic bag packaging as well. I know cos my colleague had bought me those before from the same bakery.
Once opened up, they looked like these. This one you can see the maltose centre clearly. I've friends who bought me some plain hiong pheng before. It's not that readily available and not all such bakeries have them. Actually I quite like this version too cos the pastry is very flaky and crispy minus the sweet and sticky centre.
To get the modern packaging ones, try this bakery next time you are in Ipoh.