Indonesia sure has a comprehensive list of recipes for delicious desserts. Many of the sweets are produced with abundant tropical produce such as coconuts and rice flour. We also love to use pandan as ubiquitous vanilla in the Western desserts to enhance baked goods and sweets. Some desserts would just use the leaves for the taste and aromatic fragrance, while you can find the other in bright green hue color specifying using Pandan Extract for both the taste and color.
Pandan Extract can be bought from traditional market, baking supply, or grocery store. However, let me tell you that the homemade one will taste so much batter than artificial pandan extract. If you have access to fresh or frozen pandan leaes, follow my recipe and try making your own extract at home.
Pandan leaves (Pandanus amaryllifolius) are long and slender green leaves of a member of the pandanus palm or screwpine family. The plant is grown in South and Southeast Asia. They are popular in Southeast Asian cooking as the leaves impart an aromatic notes to foods. They are also used as a natural food coloring, especially for desserts because of their intense green color.
Similar to vanilla, the unique aroma of pandan leaves is used to flavor many desserts. However, it should also be noted that pandan tastes nothing like vanilla. Pandan’s flavor profile is indescribable, which is not like anything else. The fresh leaves of pandan tastes sorta grassy and nutty. They are most commonly infused with coconut milk to create those delicate notes with a staunchly tropical taste.
Tips for Making Pandan Extract
1. Use mature pandan leaves
To make pandan extract at home, choose mature pandan leaves, which usually have darker green color in color compared to the young ones. The darker they are, your desserts will be more fragrant and greener.
2. Cut the leaves into smaller pieces
You can either use a mortar and pestle or blend using a food processor to make this pandan extract. As pandan leaves are extremely fibrous, you need to cut them in smaller pieces before you throw them in the blender.
3. Mix with suji leaves for darker green color
Pandan extract made from pure pandan leaves will result in pale green color dessert with intense pandan flavor. To get the signature darker bright green color, I usually mix pandan leaves with suji leaves (Dracaena angustifolia). Suji leaves look quite similar to pandan, but they do not have sweet fragrant aroma like pandan leaves and they give darker natural green color to foods than pandan leaves does. So, when I substitute half of the pandan leaves with suji leaves, I get darker green color, but the pandan taste is not as intense as the one made from pure pandan leaves.
This is the ratio of pandan and suji leaves I come with:
- 20 pandan leaves for pale green color extract and intense pandan flavor
- 10 pandan leaves and 10 suji leaves for darker green color extract with less intense pandan flavor
- 20 pandan leaves and 10 suji leaves for darker green color extract with intense pandan flavor
In summary, you can play with ratio of pandan and suji leaves as you wish to get the desired flavor and appearance. Add more pandan leaves more more intense pandan flavor, while add more suji leaves for darker green color. For me, I like to stick with 10:10 ratio because the green color and pandan flavor is just right for me.
Easily make your natural pandan extract from fresh pandan leaves at home for fragrant and tasty pandan desserts with bright green hues.
- 20 pandan leaves
- 1 cup filtered water (240 ml)
Cut the white bottom part of the leaves. Wash them to remove any dirt.
Use a pair of scissors to cut the leaves into 1/2-1 inch parts into a blender.
Add water and blend until the leaves are fully pulverized.
Use a strainer or cheesecloth to strain the pandan extract.
Use immediately or store in refrigerator up to 1 week.
- Use 20 pandan leaves for pale green color extract and intense pandan flavor
- Use 10 pandan leaves and 10 suji leaves for darker green color extract with less intense pandan flavor
- Use 20 pandan leaves and 10 suji leaves for darker green color extract and intense pandan flavor