Pandan-almond “butterfly” cake

Ever since I got my Pavoni butterfly molds, I had been itching to use them in something. This cake was a last-minute cake order, so it got to be the lucky recipient to some butterfly shaped tuile garnishes! When it came to the cake and the flavors, I knew I wanted to do pandan, but I was between coconut or almond for the secondary flavor. The reason for this was primarily that I only had 1 can of coconut milk left, but I had a lot of almond flour and almond milk, and almond slivers. So it became a no-brainer to use the almond instead for this recipe. With pandan, you have this almost herbaceous floral note, since it is a leaf from a tree that basically the Asian cousin to a pine tree. I figured with natural almond flavoring from almond flour and almond milk, you would contrast the fragrance of pandan with something toasty and nutty to sort for bring it back down to earth, so to speak. Since pandan is commonly paired with ube or coconut, both of which have nutty or toasty flavor profiles, I figured it made sense. And upon tasting it, it did. So I was glad to see that almond and pandan could indeed be friends!

For the components, we have an almond-pandan chiffon cake, an almond-pandan mousse, an almond-pandan soak, garnished with almond-pandan tuiles, and toasted almond flakes. I’m sure if you read that sentence aloud, you’d be sick of hearing the term “almond-pandan” right about now. The cake itself has almond flour in it, while the entire recipe is dyed green using Suncore Food’s Emerald pandan leaf powder, as well as green spirulina powder, while I flavored everything with pandan extract. While you can sub out the powders with food coloring, you would still need the pandan extract for the flavor. I prefer to use the Emerald pandan leaf powder for that same reason, since it will just add color and flavor to the cake! The tuiles were made using Pavoni bonsai and butterfly molds, though if you do not have those, you can just use a piping bag to pipe out your own tuiles with! When it came to the plating, I just wanted it to resemble a forest with butterflies and the almonds almost looking like dirt. Needless to say, I appreciate the last-minute cake order, just because it introduced me to a really fun flavor combination, and gave me a chance to create a really cute and pretty cake!

For the chiffon cake:
3 egg whites
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1 egg yolk
1/4 cup almond flour
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
2 drops pandan extract
1 tsp Emerald pandan leaf powder
1/4 tsp green spirulina powder
a pinch of salt
2 tbsp almond milk
2 tbsp canola oil

In a mixing bowl, whip egg whites with sugar to stiff peaks. Fold the whipped egg whites with the other ingredients to form your batter. Pour onto a lined quarter sheet pan and spread into a thin layer. Bake at 350 degrees F for 15 minutes. Cool completely.

For the soak:
1/4 cup almond milk
1 drop pandan extract
a pinch of salt

Mix to combine.

For the mousse:
1/4 cup almond milk
1 tsp gelatin powder + 2 tbsp almond milk
a pinch of salt
3 egg yolks
1/4 cup granulated sugar
2 tsp Emerald pandan leaf powder
1/4 tsp green spirulina powder
5 drops pandan extract
1 cup heavy cream, whipped stiff

Heat up almond milk with gelatin and salt until dissolved. Whip egg yolks with sugar first. Pour half of the almond milk over the egg yolks first. Then whisk the egg yolk-almond milk mixture with the almond milk-gelatin mixture on medium heat for 1-2 minutes. Strain and cool down. Then mix into the egg yolk mixture the powders and pandan extract first. Then fold in the heavy cream to form your pandan mousse.

For initial assembly:
6-inch ring mold
Cling film
Cooking spray

Cut out 2 perfect rounds out of the cake using the ring mold and create a 3rd round using the scraps. Place the ring mold with cling film on one side, then acetate, and cooking spray. Place down the scrap layer first. Then 1/3 of your soak. Then spread in an even layer 1/3 of your mousse. Repeat twice. Freeze the cake for at least 2 hours before attempting to unmold.

For the tuiles:
1 egg white
3 tbsp all-purpose flour
1 tbsp almond flour
3 tbsp confectioner’s sugar
a pinch of salt
1 drop pandan extract
2 tsp Emerald pandan leaf powder
1/4 tsp green spirulina powder

Mix to form your batter. Spread into Pavoni butterfly and bonsai molds. For the butterflies, bake at 300 degrees F for 15 minutes. The bonsai would take 20 minutes at the same temperature.

For garnish:
Toasted almond slices

Unmold the cake and garnish the sides with your tuiles and almond slices.

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