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For some reason, I have been craving a taste of home lately. I tried my best with my version of comfort food: century egg porridge. But I wanted something sweet. I wanted something that tastes like home but with my own unique twist. And thus I present, a fusion of East meets West: pandan cupcakes with kaya whipped cream frosting. The English word for pandan is screwpine. I only found out about that recently, actually. Kaya is a coconut and egg jam that is typically flavored with either pandan or gula melaka, i.e. palm sugar.

I googled “pandan cupcakes”, and found a recipe that included yogurt. I had a bucket of it sitting in my fridge, which I thought would substitute for chocolate pudding if I added cocoa powder and sweetener in it, but that didn’t work out quite so well. I don’t really like yogurt by itself – it’s usually too sweet, or too sour – and it just feels very gloopy in the mouth. I won’t say no to froyo, though.

The cupcakes had a nice brown rim on the edge of the cupcake, and it really provided a nice textural contrast to the cupcake. I’m not extremely fond of the texture itself. The recipe called for cake flour, but I only had all-purpose flour so I used that instead. Perhaps that created a less tender crumb.

The cupcake had a texture not unlike like fa gao. It was slightly rubbery, I thought. That’s not a good thing though. I cored the cupcakes and added a small amount of kaya in it, just for a nice little hit of kaya, but the kaya I got was very mediocre. I wouldn’t want anymore in my cupcake. The brand of the kaya is Yeo’s. It was the only brand available – I didn’t have a choice! Maybe I could try my hand at homemade kaya some day… some day.

Pandan Cupcakes with Kaya Whipped Cream Frosting
Adapted from My Kitchen:My Laboratory
Makes 7 cupcakes

3/4 cups cake flour (I used all-purpose, you’d be fine if you did too but cake flour would yield a more tender crumb)
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons butter
6 1/2 tablespoons sugar
1 egg
1/2 cup non-fat, plain yogurt
1/2 tsp pandan paste
7 teaspoons of kaya, approximately

Line 7 cupcake tins; and preheat oven to 350F. Mix flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a small bowl. Set aside. Mix yogurt and pandan paste; set aside. Cream butter and sugar in a medium bowl till light and fluffy. Add egg and mix till incorporated. Add 1/3 portion of flour mixture to butter mixture. Add 1/2 of yogurt mixture to butter mixture. Add another 1/3 of flour to butter mixture. Add remaining yogurt mixture to butter mixture. Add remaining flour to butter mixture.

Divide into 7 cupcake liners and bake for 18 minutes, turning from front to back midway. Cool in pan for 7 minutes. Remove and cool on rack.

When completely cool, core cupcakes. I used a narrow knife and cut a pyramid-shaped piece out in the middle. Fill holes with kaya. Do not overfill.

Kaya Whipped Cream Frosting
Makes enough to frost 7 cupcakes, and then some to lick from the bowl

1/2 cup heavy cream, well chilled
1 tablespoon sugar
3 tablespoons kaya (or to taste)

Add sugar to heavy cream. Beat till soft peaks form. Fold in kaya. Frost on completely cool cupcakes.