Pandan cupcakes with coconut snow frosting

December 13, 2009 § 3 Comments

Christmas with a tropical twist – I’ve never been a fan of cold weather, and as deranged as I might sound I actually don’t like snow very much… it’s cold, wet and makes my fingers go numb. I’ll stop being a wet blanket now and tell you about this lovely treat that brings a little Christmas spirit to your tummy, as well as some tropical island flavours!

Recently I made some pandan tea, which was a lovely warming drink, but I’d been itching to make pandan cake since I got back from Tioman which is over a year and a half ago! That’s a long time to crave cake. However, as simple as it was to make the tea, pandan cupcakes are not as straightforward as adding the leaves to the cupcake mixture.

Additionally, pandan is usually incorporated into chiffon cake, which is a very light, airy sponge cake that needs a special chiffon cake tin (it has a hole in the middle to help the circulation of heat in the cake to give it that wonderful fluffy consistency). So, it seemed as though pandan cupcakes might not be possible at all! However, considering pandan is heralded the ‘Eastern alternative to vanilla’, by extracting the pandan essence from the leaves, we might be onto something…

As it happens, you need to use both vanilla essence and pandan essence to flavour these cupcakes, but the general base of the cupcakes is very similar to the Earl Grey cupcakes recipe. To make around 20 odd cupcakes you will need:

  • 120g unsalted butter at room temperature
  • 210g golden caster sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1-2 pandan leaves
  • ½ tsp vanilla essence
  • 300g plain flour
  • 1¼ tsp baking powder
  • 150 whole milk

Start off by preheating your oven to 190°C, grease and line a cupcake tray and set it aside. Sift the flour and baking powder into a separate bowl to add to the cake mixture in a little while.

It’s time to extract your pandan essence. This sounds complicated but it’s fairly easy as long as you have a food processor, otherwise you’ll be slaving over a pestle and mortar for quite a while and that’s not really very practical. So set up your food processor, snip the pandan leaves into the top in about 2cm strips, put the lid on the food processor and blend just until shredded finely. You then scoop out the shredded leaves and with just a tiny splash of water to get the juices flowing, squeeze the leaves through a sieve to extract the pandan essence which will be a beautiful shade of green. Set this aside.

In your main mixing bowl, cream the butter and the sugar together and then add the egg, beating the mixture until smooth.

At this point you add the pandan and vanilla essence to the beaten mixture and combine well to give you a very lightly tinted mixture.

Add half the flour mixture to the batter and mix until just combined, then alternate with adding milk and flour (ending on the dry ingredients) until the batter is smooth and blended. Fill the cupcake cases with the batter and bake in the oven for about 20 minutes.

While the cupcakes are baking in the oven you can prepare your coconut snow frosting. You will need:

  • 3 heaped tbsp icing sugar
  • 1 tbsp desiccated coconut
  • 2 tbsp cold water

Mix the sugar and coconut together and then spoon over the cold water. Beat the frosting until smooth and translucent with a dripping consistency.

Once you’ve taken the cupcakes out of the oven let them cool for a little while, then drop a spoonful of the coconut frosting onto each cupcake until the coconut resembles snowflakes! The coconut complements the pandan brilliantly (most Malaysian desserts combine the two flavours), and the decoration befits the season quite well, I think.


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