Oh man, I love pandan! I have my food blogging friends to thank for that, after showing me the light with a delicious pandan waffle when we went for lunch in Cabramatta about a year ago. Since then, I’ll always order pandan flavoured desserts when I can, and one of my favourites in recent times was the Pandan Chiffon Cake at Ms G’s. While I did really like the dessert, I thought it needed some kind of crunch added to make it even better and that’s where the idea for this dessert came from.
I was also lucky enough to be invited to the launch of Dinner Explorer by Electrolux, which appealed immensely to my hostess tendencies. The website gives you everything you need including menus, drinks, and decorating ideas to cater for any number of occasions from Melbourne Cup to Footy Finals, to obscure holidays like Marie Antionette’s Birthday (November 2nd) or Polish Dumpling Day (September 28th)!
On the night, Peter Gilmore demonstrated how to make a decadent Christmas brunch – a caramelised brioche with cherry compote (as well as a majorly awesome White Peach Bellini that will definitely be on repeat come summer). It was remarkably simple but absolutely delicious, and I was inspired to create a spin on Ms G’s dessert. I made a pandan chiffon cake and soaked squares of it in a typical egg-milk mixture as you would French Toast.
While Peter had access to a steam oven, I used the microwave to gently pre-cook the cake, and then made a dry caramel in a fry pan with some butter added at the end for some extra richness, and carefully cooked the cake in the caramel mixture until it was golden. I served it with a very simple coconut sorbet (made without an ice cream maker) and some lovely fresh strawberries, playing off the awesome flavours in Ms G’s version. It was a huge hit!
I really enjoyed both making and eating this dessert, with some of my favourite flavours. While it is quite involved, you’re free to buy store bought pandan cake and sorbet to make things quicker. I really loved the light, fluffy pandan cake, and I think it would be perfect on its own or with a light coconut glaze. Many thanks to Electrolux for inviting me along to the event, and for the inspiration and ideas!
Caramelised Pandan Cake with Coconut Sorbet
Coconut Sorbet (adapted from Epicurious)
• 1 x 400g can coconut cream
• ¼ cup ice cold water
• 1 tablespoon rum
Pandan Chiffon Cake (adapted from Iron Chef Shellie)
• 10 egg whites, at room temperature
• 2/3 cup caster sugar, for egg whites
• 10 egg yolks
• 145g caster sugar, for egg yolks
• 210ml coconut milk
• 90ml vegetable oil
• 1 ½ teaspoons pandan paste
• 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
• 300g plain flour, sifted
• 3 ½ tablespoons, sifted
• Pinch salt
• 1 egg
• 1/2 cup milk
• 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
• 200g caster sugar
• 100g salted butter
• Strawberries, hulled to serve
For the coconut sorbet, whisk ingredients in a medium bowl and then transfer to a 20x30cm glass baking dish. Freeze until frozen, stirring every 30 minutes, about 3 hours. This can be made 2 days ahead. Cover and keep frozen. Alternately, churn in an ice cream maker if you have one!
For the pandan chiffon, beat egg whites with an electric mixer until soft peaks form. Add sugar one tablespoon at a time and beat thoroughly after each addition until stiff peaks form. In a separate bowl whisk egg yolks with caster sugar until fluffy. Add coconut milk, vegetable oil, pandan paste, vanilla extract, flour and baking powder. Whisk until combined. Gently fold the egg whites into the yolk mixture in 3 batches.
Pour into a 25cm cake tin, lined with baking paper (or use a loaf pan and another smaller cake tin). Bake for 30 minutes at 180°C (350°F) or until a skewer comes out clean. When cake is out of the oven, immediately invert the cake still in the tin and place on a cooling rack. Allow to cool completely, and then cut into eight 10x10cm squares, about 3cm thick. Any leftovers can be frozen (or nibbled!)
To assemble the dessert, whisk the egg with milk and vanilla in a bowl. Dip squares of cake into the mixture and place four squares on a sheet of baking paper. Fold up to enclose and place on a plate in the microwave for about 1.5 minutes on high heat. Repeat with remaining cake.
In a large frying pan, melt caster sugar without stirring until golden brown then place knobs of butter in the pan and swirl to melt. Shake the pan around a little and turn the heat down to low. Unwrap the cake and place directly on top of the hot caramel.
Allow to cook on the first side for about 1 minute and then using a spatula of palette knife carefully turn over the cake and cook on the other side for a further minute. Turn once more and turn the pan off. Place each piece of caramelized chiffon cake into the center of each serving plate and dust with icing sugar. Scatter strawberries around the plate and top with a scoop of coconut sorbet. Serve immediately.