Week 24: Pandan gula Melaka cupcake

There is just something about pandan that reminds me of the best things during my childhood. I have been looking for a good pandan cake recipe for a while, and finally I came across this. I was not in the mood to make a whole cake, so I adapted this recipe to make a batch of cupcakes instead. And the gula Melaka frosting is literally the icing on the cake.

It is probably prudent to start on the pandan extract a few days early, as it takes some time to allow the sentiment to sit so you can get ride of the extra liquid. In my case, I drained the liquid twice.

Makes 16 cupcakes

INGREDIENTS

For the pandan extract

4 bunches of pandan leaves (about 35 leaves)

Water (enough to blend all the pandan leaves)

For the cake

75 g cake flour

80 g plain flour

¼ teaspoon salt

½ teaspoon baking powder

113 g unsalted butter, softened

225 g granulated sugar

2 large eggs

½ cup thick coconut milk

For the frosting

50 g gula Melaka, chopped

1/8 cup water

150 g unsalted butter at room temperature

80 g (2.5) egg white

100 g granulated sugar

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

pinch of salt

DIRECTION

1) Prepare the pandan extract: With a mortar and pestle or a blender, mash the leaves finely along with the water into a paste. Use as little water as possible. Press through a fine sieve or squeeze through cheesecloth to extract the green juice only. Let it sit for a few hours, or overnight in the fridge. The green extract will settle at the bottom and you can remove the excess water before using.

2) Bake the cupcakes: Preheat oven to 165°C. Line cupcake tray, set aside. In a small bowl, combine the flours, baking powder and salt, set aside. In a large bowl, on the medium speed of an electric mixer, cream the butter until smooth. Add the sugar gradually and beat until fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add in the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.

3) Pour settled pandan extract into the coconut milk, mix well. Add the dry ingredients in three parts, alternating with the coconut milk mixture. With each addition, beat until the ingredients are incorporated, taking care not to overbeat.

4) Using a rubber spatula, scrape down the batter in the mixing bowl to make sure all the ingredients are well blended. Divide batter into cupcake tray evenly. Bake for about 16-18 minutes or until a cake tester inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean. Cool the cakes completely on a wire rack before icing.

5) Make the frosting: In a heavy-based saucepan over medium low heat, melt the gula Melaka with the water. Stir till all the sugar has melted, then let it reduce slightly, about 3-4 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool completely to room temperature. The caramel will thicken more as it cools. If it becomes too thick, thin out with a little bit of water before using.

6) Combine the egg whites, sugar and salt in a heatproof bowl over a pan of simmering water. Whisk frequently, keeping it over the heat, until the mixture reaches about 160°F/70°C and the sugar has dissolved (rub some between your fingers – if it feels grainy, it hasn’t dissolved).

7) Transfer the mixture to a mixer with a whisk attached and beat on medium-high for 8 minutes, until stiff peaks have formed and the mixture has cooled to room temperature. Turn down the speed to medium and start adding small chunks of butter, checking that it has incorporated before adding more. Keep beating until it comes together, this will take about 5 minutes. Add in the vanilla. With the mixer running, slowly drizzle in the gula Melaka caramel, beating until well combined.

8) Do ahead: The pandan extract can be prepared beforehand and chilled until required. Cake can be made up to 3 days before, frozen. Swiss meringue buttercream can be made ahead and refrigerated till needed. Bring to room temperature and whip to a smooth consistency before frosting. The buttercream requires no refrigeration for up to 5 days. It will keep in the refrigerator for 3 weeks and in the freezer for at least 3 months.

I couldn’t wait to taste these, and it was good – it taste just like home.

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