Pops of festivity

This article was first published in The Straits Times on Jan 26, 2014. 

Bite through the glistening orange skin of a "kumquat" by bakery Edible Blossoms and you taste not acid pulp but bittersweet chocolate cake or sweet lemon cake.

The round of cake is topped with a clove, which adds a spicy note and evokes a clove-studded pineapple tart. It is quite a wealth of associations in a sweet, one of the shop's selection of cake pops for Chinese New Year.

The kumquats are arranged in the style of a festive potted plant ($48, with 10 cake pops) and you can buy more (the $66 set has six extra cake pops) to replace those plucked out by peckish guests. The bakery advises against eating the cake pops after three days, so warn the visitors.

The other displays include a miniature pavilion ($88, inclusive of 12 lantern-like and other cake pops) and a flower arrangement in a Japanese teapot ($78, includes 10 blossom- embossed cake pops).

For people who equate the festive season with mahjong sessions, there is a $68 set of eight tile-like cake pops.

I'm putting my money on the kumquat, the only cake pop of the lot which is spiced. The clove not just complements the richness of the cake but also gives it character.

Seasonal cake pops, from Edible Blossoms, 46 Siglap Drive, tel: 6448-1248, open: 10am to 6pm daily. They can be ordered till Feb 14


Creature crunchies

Say you want to please young guests during the holiday season, but don't want to displease their parents by feeding them junk food.

Try Snackimals animal cookies. It should be fun - for maybe a few minutes - for young children to fish in a packet for little tigers, monkeys and such. And their parents shouldn't mind the biscuits, which are made with organic ingredients such as whole oats.

The cookies are available in flavours from oatmeal to peanut butter. The grainy oatmeal biscuits might be too coarse, though, for those who prefer the smoother peanut butter cookies.

Snackimals animal cookies, $5.90 for 213g, from Jasons The Gourmet Grocer, B4-17 Ion Orchard, 2 Orchard Turn, tel: 6509-1322, open: 10am to 10.30pm daily

Shake it up with sake

In my house, one of the most prized bottles on Chinese New Year Eve is pineapple juice which was saved during the cooking of jam for pineapple tarts.

At the end of the epic annual dinner, nothing shakes me out of a food coma like a shot of strong pineapple juice spiked with rum.

Shopping for a recent party, I found a drink just as sweet, bracing and stomach-warming: Umenoyado Yuzu, a smooth, spot-on mix of Japanese citrus juice and sake.

Take along a bottle to a festive gathering and you might suddenly be the most popular person in the room.

Umenoyado Yuzu, $43.50 for 720ml, from Meidi-ya Supermarket, B1-50 Liang Court, 177 River Valley Road, tel: 6339-1111, open: 10am to 10pm daily

Upside-down delight

Neither fagao (steamed Chinese cake) nor semolina cake: Organic store SuperNature's mandarin upside-down cake is somewhere between the two.

The cake is so moist that it seems to have been steamed. Soft and grainy, it is also a little like semolina cake. The cake itself isn't sweet. But when you factor in the butterscotch glace and sweet mandarin slices, it is quite a heavy and intriguing dessert.

Golden mandarin organic upside- down cake, $4.80 for a slice, from SuperNature, B1-05 Forum The Shopping Mall, 583 Orchard Road, tel: 6304-1336, open: 10am to 7.30pm daily