The challenge of baking many types of cookies

Instead of flocking to restaurants, three home cooks are whipping up feasts for family and friends this Chinese New Year. They share their tried-and-tested recipes with SundayLife!

Getting stressed out is part of Mr Kenneth Goh's annual ritual to get into the swing of the Chinese New Year festivities.

The 49-year-old stay-at-home dad bakes up to 30 tubs of goodies in the two weeks before the big day.

He decorates his executive apartment in Eunos with auspicious items such as nian gao (sweet sticky cake), pineapples and Chinese leeks and festive decorations.

He says: "I feel pressurised as there is a lot to do, but getting into the festive mood starts from baking cookies and doing preparation work. It is part of preserving our culture."

One component off his shopping list is Chinese New Year goodies. Besides pineapple tarts and kueh bangkit, he lets his creativity flow by baking cookies with cream cheese and bak kwa; salted egg yolk; and plum and cream cheese. He improvises on recipes posted on online cooking websites or baking enthusiast groups.

The self-taught baker says: "I get a sense of achievement from challenging myself to bake a wide variety of cookies, which adds to my baking experience."

Mr Goh, who was a former chief planning officer in the manufacturing industry, has been baking for 10 years.

New to his cookie repertoire this year is cherry blossom stained glass cookies, which is an Asian take on shortbread stained glass cookies. He uses a pineapple tart mould to create the flower-shaped cookies. They have a festive vibe from the bright red core made from melted candy.

The father of a boy aged eight and a girl aged 10 experimented with three types of red-coloured candy before settling on strawberry-flavoured Halls Vita-C candy.

He says: "The most challenging part is choosing a candy that doesn't melt easily and will not turn sticky at room temperature so that the cookies are not stained when stacked on top of one another."

His cookies are part of festive goodie bags that he distributes to relatives and neighbours. These bags might also contain mandarin oranges, pomelo or a potted narcissus plant.

Mr Goh, who is the youngest of five brothers, plans to take his baked goods with him when he returns to his hometown, Kuching, in Malaysia for the Chinese New Year. The Singapore permanent resident, who is married to secretary Kon Siew Kee, 44, says: "It is more noisy and rowdy celebrating there, there will be so much smoke from the firecrackers that I will hardly be able to sleep or breathe."