Pandan is a tropical plant widely available and used in cooking in Southeast Asia. My Lola always told me to place a pandan leaf in the water when cooking rice to make it special; I would be the one told to cut a leaf off our plant in the backyard. I didn't mind since I know I'm in for something special - just the lovely scent that fills the house as it cook is just heavenly.
I have not had luck finding a pandan plant here in US but the leaves can be found in the frozen section of most Asian stores. Some stores will have fresh leaves once in a while so that's when I stock up. Pandan's flavor matches perfectly with coconut, a popular Filipino dessert is Coconut Pandan Gelatin with strips of young coconut and green cubes of pandan gelatin.
Taking those flavors and putting it in a cake form with added leche flan (and caramel) puts this cake over the top! The smooth, creamy coconut leche flan along with light and airy coconut pandan chiffon cake are like yin and yang textures but with both flavors in harmony.
There are plenty of steps in making the cake but don't let that deter you. I promise it's all worth it!
Coconut Pandan Chiffon Flan Bundt Cake
For Coconut Flan:
1 cup sugar
1/4 cup water
7 egg yolks
1 cup unsweetened coconut milk
1 cup sweetened condensed milk
1 tsp vanilla
For Coconut Pandan Chiffon Cake:
240g (2 cups) all-purpose flour
300g (1 1/2 cups) granulated sugar
15g (1 TBSP) baking powder
5g (1 tsp) salt
7 pandan leaves, chopped into 1-inch pieces
3/4 cup unsweetened coconut milk
125ml (1/2 cup) vegetable oil
7 large eggs, separated
1 tsp. vanilla extract
few drops pandan essence
3/4 cup cold water
1/2 tsp. cream of tartar
- Make the caramel. Mix sugar and water together in a small saucepan and stir until sugar dissolves. Bring mixture to boil in medium-high heat until golden brown in color. Immediately pour into bundt pan, swirling caramel around until it covers the bottom and sides of pan. (Bundt pan will become hot from caramel, wear protective mitts!) Set aside to cool.
- Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Bring a pot full of water to boil needed for bain marie.
- In a bowl, stir egg yolks. Add both milks and vanilla extract and salt. Stir to combine completely. Strain mixture to rid of yolk solids and set aside while you prepare the chiffon cake.
- In a large bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt; set aside.
- Place pandan leaves and coconut milk in a blender and puree until all leaves are finely shredded and mixture looks green. Strain through several layers of cheesecloth, squeezing out all the liquid.
- Add oil, egg yolks, vanilla and pandan essence to the pandan-coconut mixture. Stir thoroughly to combine. Add to flour mixture and whisk until smooth.
- In another large bowl, beat egg whites and cream of tartar using an electric mixer until stiff peaks form. With a rubber spatula, gently fold beaten egg whites into batter, a third at a time, just until incorporated. Set aside.
- Pour leche flan mixture into the caramel-lined bundt pan.
- Spoon the chiffon cake batter into the bundt pan. DON'T WORRY, THE CHIFFON CAKE BATTER WILL STAY FLOATING ON TOP OF LECHE FLAN. Fill only up to 2 inches from top of pan -- batter will rise as the cake bakes. *You will have leftover chiffon batter, enough to make 6 cupcakes; something to tie you over while your bundt cake chill overnight. :)
- Pour boiling water into a bigger roasting pan - this is your bain marie. Place the bundt pan in and bake for 45-50 minutes. Check doneness of cake by inserting toothpick.
- Take out of oven and let cool completely.
- Cover top with plastic wrap and place in refrigerator to chill at least 4 hours, preferably overnight.
- To serve, invert onto a plate and enjoy!