Two Malaysian chefs bring the traditional taste of Chinese New Year into petit gateaux

USHER in the year of tiger with delightful and artistic Chinese New Year-themed petit gateaux. Two local pastry chefs have offered their own spin on this French dessert, producing a unique combination of flavours.

Four flavours in one

Former World Pastry Cup winner Chef Otto Tay is whipping up not one, not two, but four delicious flavours in one petit gateau specially designed for the upcoming lunar celebration.

Otto is bringing the flavours of the East together with those of the West, in this small-sized, melt-in-the-mouth treat with the perfect balance of sweet, tart and nutty flavours with layers of smooth silky chocolate, covering the dessert.

The delicately created piece combines the favourite fruit flavours of CNY in one single bite, starting with the sweet taste of citrusy Chinese mandarin oranges, which grow in abundance during the festive season.

$!Sweet festive delights

Otto also added another component, Yuzu, a popular fruit in both China and Japan, which has a tart flavour to represent the Asian taste, and complements it with chocolate and nutty almond flavours, a popular combination in French desserts.

Aside from the taste, Otto also added CNY elements in the form of a Chinese word on a red circle top on the small cake.

“The petit gateau has a Chinese word ‘Fu’, which means ‘fortune’ or ‘good luck’. You may get the extra ‘good luck’ for yourself or send the ‘good luck’ to your loved ones,“ added Otto.

$!hef Otto Tay in action. – OTTO TAY

A master of pastry, Otto also carefully placed a small piece of gold leaf on the top of this little luxurious cake, as gold represents wealth and prosperity. The gold, along with various components, is a masterpiece.

For Otto, the fact that his creation looks like a work of art is equally as important as the quality of the ingredients used to make it.

”All of my own patisseries are made with pure, fresh and high-quality ingredients and there are no artificial flavourings.”

“I create every patisserie piece with health as my main focus, in my mind,“ said the health-conscious Otto.

“For instance, instead of using 100% sugar, I will change part of the sugar to Trehalose (a disaccharide of glucose) to decrease the sweetness of the dessert, but not affect the texture of the dessert,“ said 34-year-old Otto, who has been a pastry chef for 13 years.

$!The Reunion petit gateaux set. – XIAO-LY KOH

Four different designs and taste

Meanwhile, pastry chef Xiao-Ly Koh is also making exquisite petit gateaux for the festive season, but with a difference! For Xiao-Ly, a creative dessert must have an attractive design and come with amazing flavours.

Xiao-Ly and her team at Xiao by Crustz cafe created a set of four mousse-based cakes called the Prosperity set.

Each of the pieces has a distinctive design, flavour and texture. She carefully picked the right theme for each design and matched it with lucky colours to represent CNY.

$!The Blossom petit gateaux set. – XIAO-LY KOH

To honour the tiger, this year’s zodiac animal, Xiao-Ly created a gateaux with a cute tiger’s head lined with yellow and black stripes. The head looks like a toy and pops up from an orange-flavoured cake. Xiao-Ly named her creation ‘Roaring Tiger’.

$!The Blessing petit gateaux set. – XIAO-LY KOH

“The decoration and designs are inspired by the Year of the Tiger. We have also included fish and florals. The Koi fish represents abundance while the Bao represents longevity for the elderly,“ explained Xiao-Ly.

The fish-shaped dessert is named Jade Koi, yogurt mousse in white colour with a touch of red, orange and black. The swirl of colours showcases the pastry chef’s impressive skills.

$!Examples of Chinese New Year cakes by Xiao-Ly and her team. – XIAO-LY KOH

“Every design has a symbol that reminds us of CNY. For example, the petit gateau in the shape of a house has the word ‘prosperity’ on the front and is meant as a wish for the home to prosper in the Year of Tiger,“ she explained.

Apart from the four, Xiao-Ly also came up with Blossom, Reunion and Blessing sets, comprising four elegant pieces with different combinations of flavours to cater to the palates of the cake lovers.

$!Examples of Chinese New Year cakes by Xiao-Ly and her team. – XIAO-LY KOH

Tempting flavours

After 12 years as a pastry chef, Xiao-Ly is not just famous for her pretty pastries but also for the sweet and delicious filings inside them.

“Most flavours match with the design and the colour of the petit gateau. For example, the Longevity Bao has raspberry, pistachio with orange blossom flavours. Hence, the bao has a hint of pink and green colours to match colours of pistachio and raspberry,“ revealed Xiao-Ly.

$!Chef Xiao-Ly Koh founded Xiao by Crustz. – XIAO-LY KOH

“Another example is the giant pineapple tart, which has an orange colour to represent the pineapple filling and gold chocolate, to represent the base,“ she said.

“We use a lot of citrus and pineapple as they represent CNY. These fruits represent fortune, especially when we pronounce it in the Chinese language. For instance, the word ‘Ong’ means luck, while ‘Kam’ in Chinese refers to gold (wealth).”

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