Malaysia has a wonderful selection of traditional sweet treats, which are referred to as either Kuih or Kue. This wide selection of confectionery can be eaten as a snack during the morning or throughout the day, and are a particularly important feature during festive occasions. We have personally tasted each and every one of these 25 Malaysian sweet treats and we suggest you do the same!
PISANG GORENG (FRIED BANANA)
This has got to be one of our favourites! The bananas are usually soft, sweet and still warm inside the crispy batter. One of the best ways to eat your fruit!
Possibly our second favourite sweet street-side snack! Apam Balik is a light and sweet pancake, traditionally filled with peanuts, sweetcorn and sugar. We prefer the ones that do not contain sweetcorn, but only peanuts and sugar. You can also find a coconut version of these which are equally delicious.
AIS KACANG (SHAVED ICE)
Made mostly from shaved ice, this is a popular Malaysian dessert as it is always so hot and this is a great way to cool down. The shaved ice is topped with a variety of red beans, peanuts, ice cream, chocolate, local fruits, jelly and coloured syrup.
Cendol has supposedly been declared a Malaysian heritage food by the Malaysian Department of National Heritage - that is enough reason to have to give it a try! The shaved ice is topped with bright green pandan and coconut jelly noodles, red beans, coconut milk and palm sugar. It’s sweet, a little chewy and refreshingly cold.
ANG KU KUEH
Literally translated to “Red Tortoise Cake” in Hokkien, these actually come in both red and green varieties. They are traditionally served during Chinese New Year or other auspicious celebrations such as within the first month of a newborn child (when the colour depicts the gender of the child). The tortoise-like shape is a symbol of longevity and prosperity.
These tiny little green balls are made from a pandan-infused glutinous rice batter which is filled with gula melaka and covered with freshly grated coconut. They burst in your mouth releasing an absolutely delicious syrupy sweetness! Don’t even think about trying to share a bag of these, you’ll want your own!
This two-layer dessert consists of a pandan layer on the bottom and a white coconut milk layer on top. Despite the gelatinous appearance, this is not at all jelly-like. Not overly sweet, the creamy top layer complements the slightly chewier bottom layer and the different textures make the two-layered combination work really well.
Most traditional in Portugal, these small egg custard pastries are definitely a hit in Malaysia and you will find them at many stalls and bakeries. Perhaps not that typically Malaysian, they remain a tasty tea time treat.
KUIH BINGKA UBI
Unlike most of the other treats, this has a rather dense and stodgy, slightly cake-like texture. Made with tapioca and coconut milk, this tasty treat is both chewy and slightly crispy on the browned edges.
Definitely another one of our favourites! These light and fluffy bright green rice flour pancakes are filled with a blend of pandan, grated coconut and palm sugar. They are sweet, juicy and chewy all at the same time!
These jelly-like mounds are sweet and sticky and come in a variety of different colours and flavours. We tried both green and brown varieties and found them both to have an underlying toffee flavour.
PULUT TAI TAI
If you’re going to be having rice for dessert, then it needs to at least be brightly coloured! The blue colour of the rice comes from steaming butterfly pea flowers. The pretty blue and white glutinous rice mixture is served with a dollop of kaya to give it some added sweetness as the rice alone is surprisingly bland. Together it is a chewy and tasty bite, although it may look a little prettier than it actually tastes!
This unassuming little treat is such a delicious burst of flavour and texture we definitely underestimated. The bottom firmer layer is made of rice flour wrapped in a banana leaf and then topped with a softer and creamy custard-like layer made from coconut milk and sugar making it the perfect taste and texture sensation.
BAN HEANG HEONG PHEAH (BROWN SUGAR BISCUITS)
These soft and crumbly pastries are filled (and usually slightly oozing) with a toffee-like flavour of brown sugar maltose. The original ones are slightly flatter and made with a more flaky pastry with sesame seeds on top. Both are delicious!
TAU SAR PNEAH (TAMBUN BISCUITS)
These irresistible bite-sized biscuits can be found all over Penang. The flaky pastry can be filled with a wide variety of either sweet or savoury fillings, including ground mung beans, red bean paste, ground peanuts, brown sugar, durian or a few other varieties too. You will find many stores offering you free tasters of the many different varieties so that you can see which ones you like the most before making a purchase!
Despite the name and the fact that these biscuits do contain ground pepper, the overall flavour of these biscuits is still slightly sweet and definitely not in any way overwhelmingly peppery! They are thin and crispy with just the slightest hint of pepper.
STEAMED TAPIOCA TUBERS
This white, light and fluffy treat is often decorated with a few bright colours. The tapioca tubers are steamed with sugar and coconut giving them a delicate flavour and very interesting texture.
KUIH PUTERI AYU
These little steamed pandan coconut cakes are light and fluffy but also a little dry. They are not overly sweet at all and we were in fact tempted to want to add some kaya to them!
SOFT SESAME PEANUT CANDY
These traditional soft peanut candies are so terribly moreish! The soft chewy rice candy is stuffed with peanut brittle and topped with sesame seeds... Yummy! Although we can’t seem to find a local name for these candies, they are sometimes referred to as “sushi candy” because of their rolled appearance.
MANGO STICKY RICE
Even though this dessert is more traditional Thai, the Malaysians sure know how to make it just right! This was the first time we’ve had it with green rice and it was absolutely as delicious as we remember it from Thailand.
Made from a waffle-like batter, these little balls are filled with sweet kaya and are a yummy snack at any time of the day, best enjoyed freshly made and still warm!
Similar to the Chinese Mocchi, these little Muah Chee are so soft and yummy. The glutinous rice dough is chopped into little balls while you wait and they are generously coated in toasted peanuts and sometimes also sprinkled with some toasted sesame seeds and yew chang (fried shallots). The chewiness of the glutinous rice and the crunchiness of the toasted peanuts make them a yummy and popular street-side snack.
Barfi is a traditional Indian coconut 'fudge' made from freshly grated coconut, sugar syrup, condensed milk, cardamom and pistachio nuts. It is soft, sweet, slightly chewy and totally delicious! You can even find this homemade treat in some supermarkets in Kuala Lumpur.
This delicious bright green treat is made from steamed rice flour, pandan & coconut sweet cakes! Watching them make these is as fascinating as they are yummy to eat. Lightly sweet, with brown sugary bits of palm sugar melting throughout, and a powdering of dried coconut on top. If you're anywhere near Central Market, KL make sure to try these!
The thinly formed doughnut-like dough is often formed into a flower-shaped Jhangiri with a small ring in the middle. After the batter is fried, it is drizzled with sugary syrup and is every bit as sweet as it looks. Crispy on the outside and oozing sweetness on the inside, this one is for those with a very sweet tooth!
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