Here's what pandan looks like:
While it's pretty non-descript looking, it has a very distinctive fragrance. It smells a little bit sweet and floral and coconut-y. If you don't live in these parts, you can probably find it at an Asian store, or at the very least, you can likely find pandan paste or flavor there.
There are TONS of recipes for Pandan Chiffon Cakes, a popular way to use pandan leaves. I opted for the following one from a blog, because it had American measurements and the author had converted the recipe to cupcakes which I also needed to do since I don't have a tube pan. It follows at the end of this post.
We could have opted to use the pandan paste instead of making our own pandan juice. But I thought if the whole point was for The Whirl Girl to learn something about Malaysia, then it was a good idea for her to actually see, smell, and touch the ingredient that made the cake Malaysian.
We blended the leaves in the food processor (about 15 leaves) with about 6 TBS of water. Then we pressed the juice out of the paste using a strainer.
Unfortunately when they came out of the oven, they didn't look very green...
...until we broke them open and found the slight greenish hue.
More importantly, they tasted great and were a big hit here. And with our neighbors too, because as delicious and light as they were, there is no way we could polish off 30 on our own.
Pandan Chiffon Cake (or Cupcakes)
1 3/4 cup all-purpose flour, sifted
1 Tbp. baking powder
1 tsp. salt
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup vegetable or canola oil
6 egg yolks
3/4 cup coconut milk
1 tsp. pandan paste (I used 1 1/2 tsp of pandan juice that we made from the leaves and 1/2 tsp of pandan paste from the jar)
6 egg whites
1/2 tsp. cream of tartar
3/4 cup sugar
Preheat oven to 350'F (175'C).
Combine (A) in a bowl. Stir well to blend. Add (B). Beat with an electric mixer until smooth.
Beat (C) (egg whites and cream of tartar) in a separate bowl until moist peaks formed. Gradually add 3/4 cup sugar, beating until stiff and shiny peaks are formed. Fold 1/3 of the egg whites into the egg yolks mixture, fold to mix and then add the rest of the egg whites. Fold gently but thoroughly, so no white streaks remain. Turn batter into ungreased 10" tube pan (OR into cupcake tins).
Bake for 60 mins (OR 20 minutes for cupcakes) or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Invert cake and cool completely in pan. Make sure oven has reached 350 F before putting cake in oven. When cool, loosen the edges and shake pan to remove.
It made about 30 cupcakes.