Everyone loves a good cookie, but not all are baked the same

Valene Yong Wui Fei making a batch of her own signature Rose Shortbread cookies (Christmas collection)

By Nancy Nais

KUCHING, Dec 27: Home baked cookies are usually deeply personal and different because everyone has an opinion on what it takes to make the best and maintaining the quality to ensure their cookies are a cut above the rest.

But when it comes right down to it, no one can resist a plate of freshly baked ones.

The late Ong Hea Lin or famously known as ‘Mrs Yong Homemade Cookies’ has been baking for over 50 years, following her late father’s recipes.

She took up the interest by learning his Shortbread and Almond cookies, gradually improving them and continued to bake for sale at coffee shops and small scale local bakeries to support her income so she could send her children to further their studies overseas.

With the help of her three daughters, who earnestly learnt from their mother, Mrs Yong’s home baked cookies began to thrive.

In fact, her cookies are actually available not just in regular bottles but also in single pieces, kept in traditional large glass jars in coffee shops, grocery and sundry outlets for those who want to have a quick tea or grab-and-go.

One of her daughters, piano teacher Valene Yong Wui Fei has successfully taken over her mother’s trade.

Speaking to DayakDaily at their family home, Valene, 37, who is now the third generation to take over their secret recipe said all their cookies were lovingly hand made by her mom and family.

She shared her bitter sweet memories where back in the old days, her mom only baked upon orders or just before festive season because the latter was working full time then.

“Seeing mom’s cookies gradually turning famous with many demands from friends, families and even strangers who will go all the way to look for it, we decided to create a unique sticker with her portrait in drawing as our branding.

Freshly baked ‘Mrs Yong’ signature Shortbread cookies.

“The Shortbread and Almond cookies were my grandfather original recipe back as far as 70 years ago. Then my mom took over and added another item, Cheese Sticks. When I stepped in to learn, we slowly improve the packaging as well,” Valene said, adding that she usually creates packaging based on occasion or festive season.

Mrs Yong passed away in 2018.

With some extra creativity and ideas from her two other sisters, Valene not only continues the family’s famous Shortbread cookies, Almond cookies and Cheese sticks, she added Chocolate Shortbread cookies and her very own Sables cookies which consist of Sakura Pistachio and Cranberry Macadamia.

Sakura Pistachio Sables by Valene Yong Wui Fei

To ensure every cookie is rich, crumbly, buttery and delicious, Valene said she only uses premium ingredients.

“Mom was extremely particular on quality, so we use one brand for butter. If that brand is out of stock or we are unable to find it elsewhere, we will not replace with another type because the cookies will turn out differently. Similarly to the chocolate brand that we use,” she asserted.

As these cookies are purely hand made and no mold used, Valene explained that she will try to ensure every piece are of the same size.

While she was busy preparing a batch, Valene said Shortbread cookies originated in Scotland.

Traditionally, they are baked in either a rectangular or square slab and cut into fingers.

They are typically thick and cooked at low temperature, resulting in delightfully buttery and crumbly cookies.

‘Mrs Yong’ signature cookies which are now produced by Valene Yong Wei Fei.

“Basically, Shortbread cookies just need three ingredients; flour, sugar and butter. Nothing else is needed and we do not add flavor enhancers. The key to a good Shortbread is the quality of the butter. That is what flavours the shortbread and the shortbread is only as good as the butter.

“I’ve often felt that sometimes simple is best and that is particularly true in the case of shortbread cookies. With their tender, crisp, crumbly texture and buttery sweet flavour, they need nothing more to make them totally satisfying, except maybe with a cup of hot tea,” she added.

True to her words, the cookies are rich, crumbly, buttery and delicious as ever, so whatever the occasion, a treat for oneself no matter what cookie from ‘Mrs Yong’ is an injection of happiness.

‘Mrs Yong’ signature cookies are available upon orders including festive seasons. Valene can be contacted in Facebook social media under the name ‘Mrs Yong Homemade Cookies’. — DayakDaily