Kitchen Tips

Make Malaysian love letters for the Lunar New Year

One of the sweetest ways to celebrate the Lunar New Year is with the Malaysian Chinese tradition of making ‘love letter’ crepes. Known as kuih kapit, love letter crepes are sweet and crispy wafers flavoured with coconut and sugar, served folded or rolled into cigars.

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It is thought that love letters were first created by a young Peranakan woman, who was forbidden from talking to her beloved without a chaperone. Legend has it that she would slip secret messages into the folded cookies before lobbing them over the fence to her suitor.

Made with a batter of egg, sugar, coconut milk, rice flour and tapioca, love letters were traditionally cooked over charcoal braziers in molded irons, embellished with beautiful patterns. These days you can buy electric love letter machines at large Asian supermarkets or order one online – if you don’t have one, you could try using a flat waffle iron, but you’ll miss out on those iconic designs.

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Today, love letters are an essential part of the Lunar New Year’s festivities in Malaysia. Much like Vietnam has its mut tet platter of candied fruits and nuts, Malaysian Chinese families prepare a platter of sweet cookies and savoury treats.

Make your own platter with these authentic recipes for love letters, pineapple rolls, peanut puffs, kuih bahulu (Malaysian madeleines), peanut cookies, mini spicy prawn rolls, kuih rose (beehive cookies), almond cookies and kuih bangkit (melt-in-the-mouth coconut cookies) for family and friends to graze on when they visit. Each of these treats is layered in symbolism: pineapple stands for prosperity and good fortune; peanuts represent longevity; and prawn rolls resemble gold bars for wealth.

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For more Malaysian-Chinese food traditions for the Lunar New Year, discover the symbolism of the yu sheng prosperity toss, or try 5 delicious Malaysian coconut desserts.

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