It’s never late to bake for CNY: Try these quick and easy ‘swirls of fortune’ butter cookies

KUALA LUMPUR, Jan 21 — For most of us, our annual Chinese New Year shopping is over and done with; for some, this was achieved weeks ago.

Canned goodies filled with abalone and fat, chunky mushrooms? Check. Containers brimful of almond cookies, pineapple tarts and other crispy, crunch treats? Check. Slices upon slices of bakkwa, made from minced pork or even bacon nowadays? Check.

Some of us have opted for more unusual but still very auspicious choices: from ice cream made from onglai (pineapples) and oolong tea to soft, fluffy Swiss rolls filled with fresh cream and honey mikan (satsuma mandarins).

Yet some of us might have been too busy with work to fill shopping trolleys with these goodies. Or miscalculated the volume our voracious family members can devour a whole week before the actual First Day of Chinese New Year.

Fret not. With a few simple pantry staples — everyone should have the baking “trinity” of sugar, butter and flour always at hand, really — it’s no trouble at all to whip up a batch of quick and easy butter cookies.

All-purpose flour is the way to go.

All-purpose flour is the way to go.

Piped from a pastry bag into tidy circles, these cookies look not unlike wheels of fortune. Well, they aren’t perfectly round so perhaps “swirls of fortune” would be a better moniker for these buttery, crumbly cookies.

For what better fortune can there be, to be able to bake these in a pinch? Your ever-snacking family will thank you — that’s for sure! Have a happy and blessed Year of the Rabbit, everyone!


These aren’t pure shortbread butter cookies: I have added some brown sugar for a subtle molasses-like taste. The resulting cookies won’t be quite as crisp but they won’t be chewy either; this approach balances a satisfying crumble with a depth of flavour.

One common imperfection when it comes to baking butter cookies (or any type of cookies for that matter) is that sometimes the cookie dough will spread too much during baking, creating a very flat and less than aesthetically pleasing end result.

The cookie trinity – butter, sugar and flour.

The cookie trinity – butter, sugar and flour.

As with croissant dough, where every iteration is returned to the freezer to keep the layers of butter cold, the culprit here is the butter. Likely the butter has warmed up while you were working with the dough.

One solution is to keep the piping bag in the fridge till you’re ready to use it; 15-20 minutes should be enough to keep it chilled. If you have already piped the cookies and are worried about whether the butter has warmed up too much, simply return the tray of piped cookie dough to the fridge for 15-20 minutes until chilled, before baking them.


75g caster sugar

25g brown sugar

150g salted butter at room temperature

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 tablespoon milk

200g all-purpose flour

Mix everything until well combined.

Mix everything until well combined.


Preheat the oven to 175℃. Add the caster sugar, brown sugar, salted butter and vanilla extract in a large bowl.

Cream the mixture using a handheld electric mixer until well combined. (You can use a stand mixer too.) The texture you’re looking for is light and fluffy.

Once the butter and sugar have been creamed, add the milk and continue to beat till the milk is well incorporated. Finally add the flour and whisk until you have attained a consistent, slightly crumbly dough.

Transfer the dough to a pastry or piping bag. Fit the end of the bag with a large-sized, star-shaped tip.

Cover a baking tray with parchment paper. Pipe the cookie dough in a circle directly onto the paper, until all the dough has been used up.

These cookies have a satisfying crumble as well as depth of flavour.

These cookies have a satisfying crumble as well as depth of flavour.

Place the baking tray in the oven and bake for about 15 minutes or until the cookies are golden brown. Remove from the oven and allow to cool completely at room temperature before eating or storing.

Once cooled completely, these butter cookies should store well in an airtight container for about two weeks.

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