Gula melaka provides a subtle complexity in these crisp on the outside, chewy on the inside cookies, which are studded with pockets of white chocolate. These cookies are packed with chocolate; feel free to reduce if you don't have a sweet tooth!
Lately, traditional Asian ingredients are starting to make their way to modern-day baked goods, ranging from cookies to cakes. Ingredients like pandan, blue pea flower, and gula melaka were previously only found in traditional snacks. However, over the years, restaurants, patisseries and food establishments are featuring more of these traditional local flavours in their creations.
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These ingredients give your baked goods a unique taste that can’t be easily replicated, and one of our favourites to work with is gula melaka, as seen from stuff like our Gula Melaka Coconut Bread, Gula Melaka Coconut Cookies, and Ondeh Ondeh Snow Skin Mooncakes we made for Mid-Autumn Festival last year. There are so many ways to work with gula melaka, and this time, we decided to pair it with white chocolate in these Gula Melaka White Chocolate Cookies. Instead of the usual combination of brown and white sugar, these cookies are made with a combination of gula melaka and white sugar.
What makes gula melaka different from other forms of sugar, and what does it add to your baked goods? Continue reading to find out!
Gula Melaka is a type of palm sugar originating from Malaysia. Across Southeast Asia, different regions have different types of palm sugar. Although most types of palm sugar taste similar, there are slight differences in terms of flavor and aroma between the varieties. Some might even have hints of caramel, coffee, or butterscotch.
To make gula melaka, sap is collected from the flower buds of coconut palm and boiled until it becomes dense and sticky. The next step is pouring this liquid into bamboo tubes to mold them so that it can be cut into short cylinders like the ones we see in stores.
When it is used in baking, gula melaka lends smoky caramel and toffee notes. Compared to regular white sugar, gula melaka is very fragrant, which is great if you’re looking for something to spice up your baked goods.
Traditionally, gula melaka is made purely from sap without adding any other kind of sugar. But since larger quantities of commercial gula melaka are in demand, manufacturers are starting to mix sap with added sugar to sell them at a lower price.
Although using pure gula melaka will give you more flavor depth, using those that have added sugar with them isn’t a bad choice either if you prefer a lower intensity of the caramelly flavours of the palm sugar. Here are some things to consider when you shop for gula melaka:
Making cookies is relatively easy, even for new bakers. Most of the time, it’s also the least time-consuming compared to baking cakes and bread.
Always do the creaming process properly because it determines the outcome of your cookies. It creates air bubbles in your batter, which helps your cookies rise when they are baked. Creaming also dissolves sugar into the batter, so it becomes evenly distributed, and your cookies won’t have clumps of sugar here and there. Check out this video to see how light and fluffy your creaming result should be!
Since gula melaka is used in place of regular brown sugar in this recipe, these cookies have a slightly chewy base resulting from the melting and caramelization of the gula melaka within the dough. These cookies have a thin crisp crust which breaks into a chewy interior with pockets of white chocolate.
For a recipe of 20 cookies, 350g of white chocolate might be a lot for some of you. For those who do not have a sweet tooth, simply adjust this amount to your preference.
For the cookies
180g all-purpose flour
5g baking soda
160g gula Melaka, chopped finely
115g unsalted butter
30g granulated sugar
1 medium-large egg
300g + 50g white chocolate buttons (50g will be used for topping cookies)
Bring egg and butter to room temperature.
In a medium bowl, sift all-purpose flour, baking soda and salt together.
Chop gula melaka finely.
In another large mixing bowl, cream softened butter together with granulated sugar and chopped gula melaka until pale and fluffy.
Add in the egg and vanilla and beat in until well-combined.
Gradually add in the sifted dry ingredients and mix in until just incorporated. Do not over-mix the cookie dough.
Add in 300g of white chocolate buttons and fold in until well distributed.
Chill dough for 30 minutes to 1 hour. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 180°C and line your baking sheet with parchment paper.
Scoop out about 38g-40g of cookie dough (for medium cookies) onto your baking sheet, spaced apart to allow the cookies to spread. Bake immediately. Return the remaining cookie dough to the fridge while the cookies are baking.
Bake for about 10 – 13 min until cookies look set and the edges are golden brown. These cookies are meant to be slightly soft and chewy; do not over-bake, otherwise they will be overly crisp.
Extra tip to test for doneness: Pull out your oven rack and lightly push the sides of the cookie very lightly with a spatula or your finger. If the edges stay firm and do not leave a huge indentation, then you're done.
Once the cookies are out of the oven, quickly push some of the white chocolate (from the remaining 50g) into the tops of the soft cookies.
Let cookies cool. They will start to set and firm up as they cool.
Storage: Store cookies in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 7 days. Baked cookies can be frozen for up to 1 month. Reheat at 160°C for about 3-8 min.
These cookies are a refreshing take from the usual gula melaka coconut pairings. If you are looking for more cookie recipes, you might like these Orange Dark Chocolate Chunk Cookies and Brown Sugar Pistachio Rose Shortbread Cookies.
Trying this recipe out? Make sure you hashtag #bakestarters on Instagram so we can see your wonderful creations!
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