Traditional culinary enthusiast would definitely be in the know – or even love – this sweet delight, yet unfortunately, not everybody is familiar with Ampyang (peanut with brown sugar cookie). Made from brown sugar and sangrai peanuts, its sweetness and crispiness make it a hit with the kids.
Its roots, however, is shrouded in mystery. Some say it came from Salatiga or Klaten, while others have claimed it is a local delicacy in Solo. A few have also stated that its place of origin is Yogyakarta. The word “ampyang” itself comes from the Javanese word that is used to describe how bad the condition of a road is. A pothole- or debris-filled road is known as “jalan ampyang”, and due to the snack’s kinked and uneven shape, it was dubbed “Ampyang”.
Ampyang has always been compared to Jipang, a traditional peanut cookie from Kebumen, for its use of the same ingredients. But of course, they both possess different characteristics. The peanuts used for Jipang are grinded before being mixed with the sugar, whereas the peanuts for Ampyang are left in its whole state during this process. Texture-wise, Jipang feels soft and slightly chewy, while Ampyang is firm and crispy.
These days, we have various types of Ampyang available, including those that are mixed with liquid chocolate to make it more tasteful and ginger water as well, with the result of the latter being a sweeter end product that could also warm the body.
Some have also used different peanuts in the mixture to cater to the market. A number of shops in Yogyakarta sell Ampyang made from cashew nuts at a more expensive price. You also have Ampyang Kelapa (coconut Ampyang), which sees its main ingredient of peanuts being replaced by shredded coconut and with added artificial colouring to give a more attractive polish. Lastly, Ampyang Wijen (sesame Ampyang) is made from sesame seeds.
A few areas in Java recognise Ampyang than just a mere snack. It is used for traditional ceremonies such as Mitoni (seventh month prayer), which is conducted when a mother’s pregnancy reaches its seventh month. One of the requirements that must be fulfilled by the host for this ritual is to prepare seven types of Ampyang.
Interestingly, Ampyang is also the name for a type of colourful crackers that are made from flour and are round in shape. There is also a celebration in the district of Kudus called Ampyang Maulid, which involves the arrangement of food on a unique plate to commemorate the birthday of the Prophet Muhammad SAW. This annual event is held at the Wali Loram Kulon Mosque.