January 27, 2010

An Unwritten Dilemma & Durian Tarts

It’s been a bit different these few days. My beloved dad would drop me to work in the morning. He would come pick me up once I’ve reached the light rail station close by after work in the evening. But, he has gone on a trip abroad. So, I’ve got to trust and rely on my good ol’ chubby feet while commuting between home and work, besides taking public transportation.

No, and no. It’s never been easy along the way. On the bus, on the train, on the street. There goes another horror movie every time. The further the bus drives, the dizzier I get. The longer I walk, the stronger my heart stomps. The more crowded it gets, the more insecure I feel. The less crowded it gets, the odder I feel. It seems like there may be another episode of heart attack anywhere at any time. It’s paranoia. It’s cynicism. I know.

Just as everyone thought that all the advances are a gift to our fast-paced lives — a gift that would raise the quality of life and our happiness. People abuse it. The living and non-living have become a nightmare. A nightmare I’d choose not to live with if I could, honestly.

Buses brimmed with humans, just like cans of sardines — to bring food onto their tables and to the corrupted. “Precious” and “lives” never seem to make it to their vocabulary. Cold-blooded drivers and motorcyclists have their adrenaline pumped up through joy rides, fleeing beyond the forbidden zone — in the face of the police officers and terrified pedestrians. Pickpockets, robbers and rapists are somewhere out there desperately seeking their next victims? Me? Who knows!

Most of the people of this country are made bipolar. They are utterly brutal creatures on the road. You’re lucky if you get by without some sort of rage — be it constant honking, cursing and swearing against you and your loved ones, or the deployment of the “F-bomb.”

Whatever that happens behind closed doors, it’s dark, it’s a secret. I’ve got no choice. I can’t stand. I’ve got to let out my frustration. The truth is I risk losing my own freedom by saying these. No freedom to say as wished. Luck is shining upon me if you happen to see me here over the next few days. I hope I won’t be the next detainee behind bars. It’s lifeless. It’s cold in there.

It’s a dilemma — one that I have to bear till I die. I love Her, but She doesn’t love me. One day, I may leave Her for good, in search of refuge, in search of humanity. It’s not my intention to be part of the Brain Drain. It’s such a pain. But I have to, eventually.

And when I’m miles away from my Motherland once again, I’ll be missing this dearly. In 1856, British naturalist Alfred Russel Wallace had the ultimate taste test of his lifetime when he said:

“The five cells are silky-white within, and are filled with a mass of firm, cream-coloured pulp, containing about three seeds each. This pulp is the edible part, and its consistence and flavour are indescribable. A rich custard highly flavoured with almonds gives the best general idea of it, but there are occasional wafts of flavour that call to mind cream-cheese, onion-sauce, sherry-wine, and other incongruous dishes. Then there is a rich glutinous smoothness in the pulp which nothing else possesses, but which adds to its delicacy. It is neither acid nor sweet nor juicy; yet it wants neither of these qualities, for it is in itself perfect. It produces no nausea or other bad effect, and the more you eat of it the less you feel inclined to stop. In fact, to eat Durians is a new sensation worth a voyage to the East to experience. ... as producing a food of the most exquisite flavour it is unsurpassed.”

For some, durian spells h-e-a-r-t-t-h-r-o-b; for some, durian spells o-r-d-e-a-l. Just as everyone is buried in the pineapple tart craze this coming Chinese New Year, my cookie jars will also be filled with the “cheesy onion sherry-like” scent of durian. Once is never enough. Very typical of a Malaysian indeed.

These durian tarts crumble and melt in your mouth, with a luscious, gooey caramelized durian filling at its very heart — with which we Malaysians would familiarly identify with as “dodol.” The sweet floral coconut taste from gula melaka, or palm sugar or jaggery, finally stands itself up against the dominating durian as the finishing touch.

Gula melaka, or palm sugar or jaggery

For some, these cookies equate torture; for some, these cookies equate indulgence. They’re the pinnacle of perfection — a treat shared by our neighbors from Indonesia. What a unique treat for this Chinese New Year, especially when durians are abundant during this time of the year!

Durian Tarts (Kuih Tat Durian)
[Adapted from Periplus Mini Cookbooks: Indonesian Cakes & Desserts, by William Wongso & Hayatinufus A. L. Tobing]

For the filling:

300 g durian flesh, pitted
75 g gula melaka (palm sugar), finely chopped
2 Tbsp caster sugar
* I used 1 Tbsp caster sugar. Please adjust the quantity of caster sugar according to the sweetness of the durian pulps used and your preference.
  1.  To make the filling, place (A) together in a small heavy-bottomed saucepan. Cook them over low heat — stirring constantly to prevent the mixture from burning at the base. Keep stirring to cook them till they've become thick and sticky, which should take around 15 minutes.
  2. Transfer the filling into a shallow plate and set aside to let cool completely. Then, send to the fridge to chill until it's firmed up before use. This helps a lot with handling this gooey, sticky filling later on.

For the pastry:

200 g butter, softened
3 Tbsp powdered sugar
1/4 tsp salt

2 egg yolks, at room temperature

300 g all-purpose flour, sifted once
1 Tbsp water, or adjust the quantity as necessary

1 egg yolk, slightly beaten for glazing
  1. Cream (B) together till pale and creamy, then gradually mix in the egg yolks — beating well after each addition — beating them till light and fluffy
  2. Using a spoon or plastic spatula, fold in the sifted flour to the creamed mixture by hand till just incorporated — don't overwork the dough as the cookies may get a tough texture as a result. Adding a few drops of water if the dough is somewhat thick to work with; however, the dough shouldn't be too sticky -- it should be just right to work with without having to flour your hands too much.
    ** Whenever you're not working with it, keep the dough covered e.g. with cling wrap to prevent it from drying out. T
    his may look minor, but it's crucial as it affects the texture of the cookies later on.
To assemble:
  1. Flour your hands real well first, then divide the chilled filling up by 1 tsp (around 5 g or a little more than that), quickly roll each portion roughly into a ball, and place them on a well-floured plate; set aside
    *** The chilled filling is still slightly sticky to work with; therefore, floured hands are required here.
  2. Next, divide the dough up by 1 Tbsp (15 g or slightly less than that) and roll each of them into a ball. If it sticks a bit, lightly flour your hands.
    Then to each, form a well in the center and place one portion of the filling inside. Carefully pinch the pastry dough to enclose the filling; shape the filled pastry into an oval/olive-like shape. Repeat the same to the remainder till all has been used up.
  3. Place the filled cookies onto lined baking tray(s), spacing 1~2 cm apart in between.
  4. If desired, you may jazz up the look of the cookies! Snip with a pair of "long, slender-type" of scissors around each cookie to make shallow cuts so that the cookies resemble a durian.
    **** I skipped this step when I made the tarts back in Lunar New Year. I didn't have this type of scissors. So, I just drew some pattern over each of the cookies. Well, sort of like making pineapple tarts, eh! For my second attempt, I gave the tarts a "spiky" look. I bought a pair of the scissors a few months back just for my kitchen escapades.
  5. Glaze the surface of the cookies with slightly beaten egg yolk
  6. Bake them at 180C / 350F for 15~17 minutes or till the cookies look crisp and golden brown
  7. Remove the cookies from the oven. Let them sit on the trays for 1~2 minutes to set their underside and transfer onto the cooling racks to let cool thoroughly before storing in an airtight container.
    ***** The crack on the cookies are more dramatic after baking and on the first day. It sort of "shrink up" the following days. So, don't fret over this!


Swee San said...

wow this is great! I'm going to try making it. Thanks for sharing recipe ;)

Angie's Recipes said...

Durian! They are so aromatic! I love it! Can't help much with the dilemma, but I can definitely help you finish the tarts.

Su-yin said...

Oh yum, I could do with some durians right now. These look great - dodol AND buttery pastry AND durians! What more could one want? :P

ICook4Fun said...

Oh my, what a change from the regular pineapple tarts. I would love to try some of this. *hint* ;) ;)

Quinn said...

The Durian Tarts are just like you and your blog name, Dodol & Mochi, sticky, alluring and looks good!

You do know you can make the filling using microwave right? Apart from requiring a million watts of arm power, it's relatively easy! But the filling has no glutinous rice flour.

Last question, does the filling taste like durian dodol cake or Chewy Durian Dodol or neither?

I really prefer the latter one but just cannot find the recipe to make it.... :(

And the dilemma....See? Didn't I told you in our long threads of email, public transport in Malaysia is really an issue. You tend to fear so much! Go back to US Pei Lin, you'll be a happier gal!

I'll see you on MSN tonight, don't stress too much!

Anncoo said...

Mmm...your durian tarts look great and make me mouth watering....

youfei said...


You FINALLY got this recipe up on your blog! thanks a million, i'm so so so going to try this out, if time permits =(

Missed chatting with you! Lovely lovely post by the way, my sentiments exactly and how well phrased you have put it across. Is security THAT bad there?

faithy, the baker said...

I'm going to try these soon...i've not tried durian tarts before!

Sonia (Nasi Lemak Lover) said...

dear, I never see anything like this ler, look so good, if time allow, I might try some. By the way, how long it can be kept?

foodwink said...

Yum! Never had durian tarts before but yours look great.

And I completely understand your feelings about the Motherland and the possibility of starting a new life in a foreign but perhaps more welcoming land. Go with your heart, and I will follow your story with interest.

homeladychef said...

I can totally understand how you feel... it's so true about the place we called 'home'. Everytime when i go back, there will be complaints and dissatisfaction and then the saying:" so good you are not here anymore." really?

I love my country, but I can't accept the way it is being governed. But how can we make a difference if we are not even the bumiputras? Race is still above everything eventhough it's not spelled out.

Anyway, i don't expect any changes from home anytime soon, so better prepare ourselves and move on!

Christine said...

Haha...so amusing when you said, "For some, these cookies equate torture; for some, these cookies equate indulgence."
I haven't found out if it's a "torture" or an "indulgence" to me. Hmmmm...should find out an answer later.

tracieMoo said...

Well, I'm not sure if I already posted a comment, but it did not come up so here's to writing my second!

I have never seen anything like this! Such a great and interesting cookie, while everyone is busy making the traditional pineapple tart you come up with such a wonderful idea! I would love to make this but could I do it with the ready made dodol? hahaha.. I'm such a lazy girl, I know :P
Thinking of this chewy filling within the pastry is driving me crazy, Pei-Lin! I totally adore these little tarts!

And about walking along the streets in KL, yes I do find it pretty scary. For me, as soon as I hop in my car, I lock the door. This is how insecure Malaysians can get after seeing and hearing the inhumanity of people out there. I would definitely agree with Quinn! At least, leave this place and be a happy girl!!

Elin said...

Wow...Pei Lin you are a gem. This is so very good..durian is Piggies favourite...but they rather eat them fresh. But for me I think this is awesome. The King of fruit in tarts..whoa I love it. Thanks for sharing this awesome. I will want to try this out when Daddy buys durian the next time. I will confiscated some for this! LOL!

Jo said...

Oh wow Pei-Lin, I can only image what these durian tarts would have tasted like ... hmmmm yum! I think I get a whiff of it from my end in Singapore here .. haha! BTW would you believe I have yet to take a ride on the LRT in KL.

noobcook said...

Your durian tart looks amazing, I won't be able to stop snacking on them. City life can be really stressful

Ju (The Little Teochew) said...

Oh dear. (Hugs) Are you OK? Your dilemma part of the post sounded so depressing. :( Thank goodness the delectable durian tarts ended this post on a happy note! Tomorrow will be better, hopefully.

Melissa said...

Hello: I came across this via FB and friend who linked to this site. I really enjoyed your posting. I use to live in Mont Kiara Pines, KL many years ago. The Durian was not a fruit I could acquire a taste for, however a friend had made Durian fritters and I could get this. Thank you for the Durian Tart recipe.

Melissa said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Ellie said...

Durian tarts! Intrigued by the name!! Too bad I am not allowed to eat or cook durian at home. Hubby absolutely hates the smell of it.

Pei-Lin@Dodol and Mochi said...

Thanks for visiting and leaving a line or two! You've all made my day!! =D

@Swee San: Oh, please! Do try this out and let me know what ya think about the cookies! For CNY, eh? Can't wait to read about them on your blog! ;)

@Angie: LOL! I know politics equates a never-ending story filled with corruption! Screw those people! They abuse the power and trust we the voters have granted them! Sigh ... OK, set that aside and let my anger subside. Glad to hear that you heart durian though you didn't grow up in Southeast Asia!! I don't mind having you over and finish them up for me! ;)

@Su-yin: I know how you feel! I'd been through that severe durian craving! And, I guess I'll go thru the same again in the future. Anyway, durian dodol + buttery pastry = YUMMO!

Pei-Lin@Dodol and Mochi said...

Thanks for visiting and leaving a line or two! You've all made my day!! =D

@Gertrude: Oh, yes! Definitely a change from usual pineapple tarts! Let's see if I can try whip some of these up for our meet-up soon. ;)

@Quinn: LOL!! You just cracked me up again!! Dang! Yea, I know ... I'm sticky ... Erm ..., as for the other two ... forget it! Y'know what, I've not made dodol from scratch if you don't consider this one for the filling dodol. Well, I sort of do because my baby bro ate it like how he'd do to dodol!! LOL! I'd say it was like chewy dodol, absolutely not the firmer cake type. Say! Perhaps we can make chewy type durian dodol with the recipe for the filling!! Damn! You're just brilliant! Let's talk more about this on MSN, yea? You've been right all along. This country is absolutely hopeless. I guess I've overestimated it due to my severe homesickness whilst I was in the States for 3 years without having the money to visit home for even once!! Everything here except my loved ones and our property are nightmare!! We need to get the hell outta here eventually! I WANNA BE A HAPPIER GAL! :(

@Anncoo: Oh, thanks for the kind words! I wish you could've had some!

Pei-Lin@Dodol and Mochi said...

Thanks for visiting and leaving a line or two! You've all made my day!! =D

@You Fei: Hey, dear!! Didn't I tell ya? I'm a damn slow blogger. LOL! Please do try it out and let me know of your feedback because these cookies are relatively new to me, too! I do miss chatting with you! Have been wondering what you've been up to lately because I don't see you on MSN and I know you barely have the time to update your blog. But, I thought Singaporeans don't share this sentiment with us non-"native" Malaysians!? We've discrimination here. Everyone knows. And honestly, SECURITY IS AWFULLY BAD HERE! My family wants to get the hell outta this country in a few years' time! We're just waiting for the time to come ... Oh, I hope I can share with you how I feel, how angry and frustrated I'm!! Non-Malaysians won't be able to comprehend this! It's just so freaking bugging me! I wanna cry! =(

Pei-Lin@Dodol and Mochi said...

Thanks for visiting and leaving a line or two! You've all made my day!! =D

@Faithy: Oh, hey! Do try these tarts out and let me know of your feedback! I'm new to these, too! The more I know of how others think about these, the better it is because the world is just not about me. ;)

@Sonia: Oh, dear! Do try these out! Blog about it if everything works out as planned. Hmm ... We finished them up in a week's time. So, I'm pretty sure one week will be fine. But beyond one week? I can't really tell! Perhaps you can refrigerate them after a week of storing!? Sorry if I ain't much of a help. =(

@foodwink: Thanks for the encouragement! Now that's a big pushing factor for me and my family!! We're thinking of a few countries now ... Just waiting for the time to come. Just have this odd feeling as if we're not refugees who are seeking for refuge ... Why is the governing body treating us this way!? Thanks! I'll let you know if we ever, ever make it to the Down Under!!

Pei-Lin@Dodol and Mochi said...

@homeladychef: I know what you mean ... We're sharing the same dilemma I guess ... We love Her, but She doesn't love me. =( ... I don't like the governing body either ... It's just sickening to just think about it. Dang! That's why I said it's an "unwritten dilemma." Ethnic issues & religions are the measures for everything!! This is so distressful! Glad that you're outta this hopeless land and in Singapore now, huh? Well, I wouldn't blame us for being part of the Brain Drain. She deserves it!!

Pei-Lin@Dodol and Mochi said...

Thanks for visiting and leaving a line or two! You've all made my day!! =D

@Christine: LOL! I suppose you've not tried durian before!? Just a whiff of it drives you to unconsciousness, eh? LOL! Keep us posted on your experiments, yea?

@Tracie: If you do ever get to make these durian tarts, let me know of your feedback via blogging, K? The more feedback I get, the better, right? Hey, Malaysia is hopeless ... I doubt locking our cars will help much lest some evils breaking the glass on our doors and snagging away what we have!! This is really how insecure it is this horrible place! Be careful on Thaipusam, yea? Let's get the hell outta this country in a matter of time, K? We both gambateh!!

@Elin: Oh, hello! Thanks for the encouragement! Blog about your experiment with this recipe if you ever get to try it. I know, late last year, we "overheated" ourselves by eating too much durian! LOL! Learned our lessons, I lost my voice thereafter. That's why it seems like we never ever stock up on durian, eh!? Hahaha ...! Durian is so precious! =D

@Jo: Hey, thanks for the encouraging words!! LOL! After so long, you've never tried riding on LRT!? Hahaha ...! You're lucky! At least, if I've got to choose, LRT is like the only one I'd bear riding on. Sigh ... Malaysian public transportation is this bad, especially buses & KTM!!

Pei-Lin@Dodol and Mochi said...

Thanks for visiting and leaving a line or two! You've all made my day!! =D

@noobcook: Thanks so much for the encouraging words and for understanding our situation. =)

@Ju: Thanks for the kind words! You've warmed up my soul on such chilly days!! (As in in a brutally cold country, not the weather.) This place is hopeless. We'll get out of here. No worries! When there's strength from and we work together as family, everything is possible!!

@Melissa: Oh, thanks for dropping by! Your words have also made my day, too! Durian fritter sounds like something I'd love!! Funny! I've not tried it before! You're more than welcomed, sharing with others who share the same passions makes me feel so great! And well, if you aren't a big fan of durian, that's perfectly understandable! It's an acquired taste! Hahaha ...!

@Ellie: LOL! Mr. J hates durian! Oh, well! He's Dutch and didn't grow up in Southeast Asia. Perfectly understandable. I guess the only challenging part is on his wife! LOL! You gotta have some durian once in a while. Makes life sweeter. ;)

tigerfish said...

Heartthrob of course!
And definitely no dilemma for me on durian tarts. I'll eat them :)

pigpigscorner said...

I miss durian!! My hubs drop me off a the train station and picks me up when I get back. If not, I'll have to take a bus to and fro the train station which is a pain!

Y said...

Oh my those look good, though I'll have to say, I'll be sticking with pineapple tarts as I've never been too fanatical about durians, whatever form they may come in :) The first part of your post was a bit disturbing though. I hope you're okay and that you manage to sort your problems out!

Chow and Chatter said...

oh your tarts look wonderful love your writing you have talent girl Rebecca

My Asian Kitchen said...

just looking at your meaty durian make me drooling big time!! I never try durian tart b4.I bet it's must taste delicious!!

Kate at Serendipity said...

Pei-Lin, I've never tried durian. I can tell it's something I need to find! These cookies look darling.

I'm sorry about your commute--it sounds even worse than DC!

Food For Tots said...

Is durian in season now? Must eat some when I'm back to KL this CNY. I have no dilemma when it comes to eating your durian tarts. Definitely go for it!

Blessed Homemaker said...

It's "heartthrob" for me but "ordeal" for hubby so I've minimised eating durians for the longest time except during my pregnancies, no excuse to say no to a pregnant woman ;-)

Being a foreigner, I get the jitters when I walk along the streets in KL, even with a group of friends. Pardon me but I've always felt unsafe travelling in where you are. Maybe it's just me, sorry. Go with your heart, even if it's a wrong decision, at least you've tried and there will be no regrets.

Pei-Lin@Dodol and Mochi said...

Thanks for dropping by! You've made my day! And guys, sorry for getting back to you this late! I've been unusually busy! Argh ...!

@tigerfish: Oh, yes! Durian is definitely a heartthrob for my family. We can finish it up, but it's usually impossible because we get "overheated" easily by overconsumption of durian! LOL! How I wish you could try some! =)

@pigpigscorner: Hahaha ...! I can understand your severe craving for durian because I'd been thru that myself for the past 3 years! Oh, I know the insecure feelings of walking on the streets of this country -- you may lose your life anytime without a reason! That's real sweet and nice of Jeff to do so! Well, every hubbs is obliged to do that! LOL!

@Y: Well, you don't to be a durian lover! I know perfectly well it's an acquired taste. Oh, thank you so much for your concern. We're in the midst of figuring out the right time to fleeing from this nightmare and to a more welcoming land. This is the only solution we can think of!

Pei-Lin@Dodol and Mochi said...

Thanks for dropping by! You've made my day! And guys, sorry for getting back to you this late! I've been unusually busy! Argh ...!

@Chow and Chatter: Hey, Rebecca! Thank you for the encouraging words! I'm totally flattered.

@My Asian Kitchen: LOL! Sorry for torturing you like that. Oh, yes! I'm sure it's delish! Hahaha ...!

@Kate at Serendipity: Yea, you gotta give it a shot since you're such an adventurous eater with a culturally open mindset! You bet! That's how terrible the security here is -- one of the worst in the world -- and the police here are just as equally terrible. And, I dare to say that because that's a fact!

@Food for Tots: Hope ya get to try some when you're back in KL. Expensive in Singapore? Aww ... I hope you could've had some of the cookies ...

@Blessed Homemaker: Hahaha ...! You ate durian during pregnancy!!?? Isn't that a no-no for any pregnant women? And nope, it isn't your problem. There isn't a need to say sorry. This is a fact that the security is lousy here ... All of us feel insecure walking on the streets here--and even living here. No peace of mind! Oh, dear! We're just waiting for the right time to come and abandon this country for good!

PY said...

Woo... great ! I love durians and my hometown is quite famous with its durians.I will give it a try in the coming durians' season.I love durian dodol cake too. One of my colleague's aunty from Malacca made delicious dodol cake. I am trying to get recipe from her but couldn't get yet.

Indonesia Eats said...

It's called duri duriang and I made it from the same author Hayatinufus Tobing as well.

I realized when I made the durian paste, it's very much like dodol durian :)

pigpigscorner said...

Durian!! am glad I managed to find some when I was back. THe pastry looks amazing! Take care la Pei-lin.

Pei-Lin@Dodol and Mochi said...

Hey, Anne! Glad that you ate durian while back in M'sia! I will try to take care lar ... Thank you wor! =)

Gong hey fatt choy once again!

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