The Chinese Cocktail/ Coconut Bun or Gao Mei Bao has its origins in Hong Kong. It is a sweet bun filled with a buttery, milky sweet coconut paste. This bun was supposedly created some time in the 1950s in Hong Kong, when the owners of a local bakery were left with quite a few unsold but perfectly good buns. The enterprising owners apparently ground them up with sugar making a filling which was put into freshly baked buns the next day.
Talk about a creative solution to re-inventing leftovers! While the original buns were made with this filling, more creative bakers eventually added more flavour to the new buns by adding coconut, butter and milk to the filling. This has now become the accepted filling for these Chinese Cocktail/ Coconut Buns.
The “Cocktail” in the name is thought to be a comparison of the rather ‘interesting’ mixture of unusual filling ingredients in the buns to a bartender’s mixture of exotic ingredients that go into creating a cocktail!!
Chinese Cocktail/ Coconut Buns make for a great snack. I find there is something almost addictive about the buttery coconut filling. I guess it helps that we like coconut. Use desiccated coconut in the filling, but if you can find fresh coconut (even the frozen kind), I’d say go for it. It does make a whole lot of difference.
These Buns are typically topped with two stripes (almost reminds me of the American football!) and a sprinkling of sesame seeds. I had extra dough for making the stripes so I piped three stripes onto my buns just for the heck of it.
One word of caution while making these Buns. While they’re quite easy to make, you need to make sure the filling is sealed well inside the dough. Otherwise, the seams will open up when the buns rise and the butter in the filling will leak out during baking. This is not at all a desirable thing.
Some recipes call for these buns to be brushed with a sugar or honey glaze as soon as they come out of the oven. I left that out because I didn’t want them any sweeter. If you want to use the glaze, mix together about half a tablespoon each of caster sugar and hot water for the sugar glaze or a tablespoon of honey and half a tablespoon of water for the honey glaze.