By Kim Choe
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Pandan cupcakes

Pandan cupcakes with coconut buttercream and caramel filling

This cupcake uses a flavour combination quintessential to Indonesian sweets – pandan, gula melaka (palm sugar) and coconut. Pandan is still a relatively unknown flavour to the Western palate. It comes from the leaves of the pandanus plant, which have a soft, aromatic coconut flavour.


    For the pandan cupcake batter:
  • 200g butter, softened
  • 1 3/4 cups sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • 2 3/4 cups plain flour
  • 4 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons salt
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 Tablespoon pandan essence (green)
  • 1 Tablespoon pandan flavouring (colourless)
  • NB: Pandan is available from most Asian supermarkets. You could opt to use 2 Tablespoons of either the essence or the flavouring, but combining the two gives the best balance of flavour and colour.
  • For the caramel filling
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 40 g butter
  • 1/4 cup cream at room temperature
  • For the coconut buttercream icing
  • 170g butter, softened (I would recommend using a vegetable oil substitute such as Olivani, because they are less yellow than butter and will result in whiter coloured icing.)
  • 3 3/4 cups icing sugar
  • 2 Tablespoons coconut milk
  • NB: If you are planning to pipe your icing, rather than spread it with a knife/spatula, I’d recommend doubling the amount of icing.


  1. Preheat oven to 180˚C and line muffin/cupcake trays with cases.
  2. Cream butter and sugar together until pale and fluffy.
  3. Add the eggs and mix slowly until just combined.
  4. Sift flour, baking powder and salt into the bowl and mix lightly.
  5. Add milk, pandan essence and pandan extract, then mix gently until colour is distributed evenly.
  6. Half fill each cupcake case , then bake for 15-20 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the cakes comes out clean.
  7. Caramel filling:
  8. Put sugar in a clean, dry saucepan and melt it over a medium heat. Do not stir until half the sugar is melted. NB: It will be very hot. Be careful – and don’t use plastic utensils!
  9. When the sugar turns a dark golden colour, take off the heat. Add butter and stir until it is melted.
  10. Add cream and stir quickly until the caramel is smooth.
  11. Allow to cool completely – it will thicken substantially.
  12. Coconut buttercream icing:
  13. Beat butter until soft and pale, then add coconut milk.
  14. Add icing sugar a little at a time, beating until smooth.
  15. Assembly:
  16. When cupcakes and caramel are completely cool, it’s time to get filling. This can be done in two ways: cutting a hole out of the top of the cupcake (use the bottom of an icing tip, an apple corer or a small knife) and using a piping bag to put the caramel in, or fitting your piping bag with a narrow tip and putting it directly into the middle of the cupcake. If you choose the second method, be careful not to overfill or your cakes will burst!
  17. Ice!


This recipe originally appeared on thebakingof.