"Good things come in small packages” sure rings true for these classic desserts boasting a scrummy local twist.

Nothing beats the smell of holiday baking to get you into the Christmassy mood. Even better is watching little eyes light up when you break out the goodies. From cheesecake-in-a-cup to a super-simple melt-in-your-mouth buttercake, add a little pizazz to your holiday table with these easy bakes. By the way, these sweet treats will do a disappearing act in the blink of an eye, so act fast!

Cendol Cheesecake

Serves 8


Biscuit Base
100g chocolate sandwich cookies, cream centres removed
40g butter, melted

10g gelatin powder
Water, as needed
100g palm sugar (gula melaka)
200g cendol jelly
2 pandan leaves, knotted
250g cream cheese, thawed for 2 hours
50g castor sugar
1 tbsp lemon juice\
150ml dairy cream (35 per cent fat free)
80ml coconut milk

Attap seeds
Cooked red beans
Cendol jelly

1. Prepare 8 small cups, each about 5-cm wide. Set aside
2. Prepare biscuit base. Place cookies in a food processor and grind until fine. Transfer to a bowl and add melted butter. Mix well.
3. Press biscuit base mixture firmly into the base of each mould. Refrigerate for 30 minutes.
4. Prepare filling. In a microwavable plastic bowl, add gelatin powder to 30ml water. Set aside for 10 minutes.
5. In a saucepan, boil palm sugar, 40ml water and pandan leaves until sugar is melted. Set aside.
6. Using an electric mixer, beat cream cheese and sugar at medium speed until light. Add lemon juice, dairy cream, coconut milk and 100ml palm sugar syrup and mix again.
7. Place gelatin in a microwave oven and heat on High for 6 seconds until gelatin is melted. Add gelatin gradually to cream cheese mixture while beating at medium-high speed until mixture is smooth.
8. Pour filling equally over biscuit base in moulds.
9. Refrigerate for at least 12 hours until filing is set.
10. Top cheesecake with attap seeds, red beans and cendol jelly before serving.

Click here for a tangy take on the classic buttercake…


Makes one 19-cm loaf

80g self-raising flour
¼ tsp salt
100g unsalted butter at room temperature
100g castor sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla essence
10ml milk
30ml yuzu juice

1. Preheat oven to 180 deg C. Line a 21.5cm by 7.5cm loaf pan with parchment paper.
2. Sift self-raising flour into a mixing bowl. Add salt and mix well. Set aside.
3. Using an electric mixer, beat butter and sugar at medium-high speed until light and fluffy. Add eggs and vanilla essence and mix well. Add milk and yuzu juice, alternating with flour mixture and ending with flour mixture. Mix until flour is just incorporated.
4. Pour batter into prepared pan. Bake for 30-45 minutes or until a cake tester inserted into the centre of the cake comes out clean.
5. Remove cake from pan and allow to cool on a wire rack before serving.

A super-crunchy cookie recipe coming right up!

Sesame Seed Cookies

Makes about 80 cookies

120g unsalted butter at room temperature
80g castor sugar
40g brown sugar
140g plain flour
30g cornflour
½ tsp baking powder
¼ tsp salt
50g ground almonds
50g white sesame seeds

1. Preheat oven to 150 deg C. Brush a baking tray lightly with butter.
2. Using an electric mixer, beat butter, castor sugar and brown sugar at medium-high speed until light and fluffy.
3. Add flour, corn flour, baking powder, salt and ground almonds. Mix well.
4. Place cookie dough between two sheets of parchment paper and roll it to a thickness of 4-5mm.
5. Use a star-shaped cookie cutter and cut shapes from cookie dough. Arrange on prepared baking tray.
6. Sprinkle sesame seeds evenly on surface to each cookie, then press lightly to ensure sesame seeds adhere to cookies.
7. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until cookies are golden brown.
8. Remove and set aside to cool on a wire rack before serving or storing in airtight containers.

*Recipes from Baking with Chef Zan, $25 (before GST), available at all major bookstores.

You may also like these reads…

Make it: 3 yummy fuss-free Christmas recipes

Are you giving your child too much good food?

How long can you store fresh foods?