01 August 2015

Pandan Coconut Cupcake with Gula Melaka Buttercream Frosting

Wow, I realised that I haven't been baking anything new for months, apart from my cake orders and the same old like Blueberry Yogurt Muffin (for the kiddo) or Gula Melaka Banana Walnut Cake (for the hb).

And I haven't eaten any cupcake with frosting for months too. Well, I'm on diet for the past few months (still am) so it's bake-no-evil, eat-no-evil :p

I'm proud to announce that I've achieved my first weight loss target, hoping to lose more, but probably at a more relaxed pace :p So decided to reward myself with a cupcake! Actually it's because I have some leftover ingredients I want to use up before going on a holiday :) #excusetobake

So here's presenting my Pandan Coconut Cupcake with Gula Melaka Buttercream Frosting! I have a small block of Gula Melaka left over from my banana cake bakes, it's kind of irritating taking up space in the fridge so I gotta use it up. Have bookmarked several recipes on pandan and gula melaka, finally decided to adapt a recipe from BitterSweetSpicy. I think the combination of Pandan Coconut Cupcake and Gula Melaka Buttercream sounds heavenly.

Initially I had doubts about making this particular cake and frosting because looking at the sugar content and method, I knew that this was going to be sweet, and the cake texture would be more dense type. Personally I prefer cakes that are light and tender and less sweet such as sponge cake, combined with chantilly cream or whipped cream. Or just a simple chiffon cake.

Finally decided to just do it! I could probably jog a longer distance or eat lesser for dinner to compensate :p
Made slight changes to the recipe like reducing amount of sugar for both cupcake and frosting. Also increased the amount of pandan juice and reduced the amount of coconut milk, hoping that the coconut milk flavour will not be too strong and pandan flavour will stand out more.

Initially I didn't drizzle any Gula Melaka syrup onto the buttercream frosting and the cupcakes looked kind of plain. Was about to wash the pot (with a bit of syrup left) when the idea came to my mind. Bingo! The cupcakes looked more interesting now. And then, suddenly another idea of decorating the cupcakes further with tiny pandan leaves. Wow, now my cupcakes look kinda of chic and atas-looking. LOL!

I didn't bother with any colouring to the cake as well, so the cake wasn't tinted green, but rather a tinge of pale green tone, something like avocado.

The cupcake turned out quite well, moist and dense, but not too heavy. The coconut fragrance is present, slightly overpowering that of the pandan. Still a tad sweet, luckily I reduced some sugar. The buttercream is surprisingly not too heavy with a tinge of Gula Melaka taste. The additional drizzled syrup accentuated the overall taste, glad that I decided to drizzle some onto the frosting. The combination of the pandan coconut cake and Gula Melaka buttercream is so much better than expected, I found myself having one bite after another and soon, one cupcake gone, leaving me craving for more. Had to stop myself from having another one.

Pandan Coconut Cupcake with Gula Melaka Swiss Meringue Buttercream Frosting
(makes 18 cupcakes, 4cm base, adapted from BitterSweetSpicy)

(A) Pandan Juice
  • 20 Pandan leaves (the pandan leaves I bought are quite small, if large leaves, use 10)
  • 3 tbsp water

(B) Cupcake
  • 200g Cake flour
  • 1/2 tsp Baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp Fine salt
  • 125g Unsalted butter, slightly softened
  • 150g Caster sugar (I use golden granulated unrefined sugar)
  • 2 eggs (I use 60g egg with shell)
  • 1/2 tsp Vanilla extract
  • 65g Coconut milk + 25g Water
  • 2.5 tbsp Pandan juice (from A)

(C) Gula Melaka Syrup
  • 50g Gula Melaka
  • 3 Pandan leaves 
  • 2 tbsp Water

 (D) Gula Melaka Swiss Meringue Buttercream Frosting
  • 3 Egg whites
  • 50g Caster sugar (I use golden granulated unrefined sugar)
  • 1/4 tsp Fine salt
  • 150g Unsalted butter, slightly softened
  • 5-6 tsp Gula Melaka Syrup (from C)

  1. (A) Prepare pandan juice. Wash and trim 20 pandan leaves into 1" length. Place the leaves into electric food chopper and grind finely. Add about 3 tbsp of water to the ground pandan leaves and squeeze the juice. Sieve and set aside.
  2. (B) Prepare cupcake batter. Preheat oven (top/bottom heat) to 180 degree celsius. Line muffin pan with cupcake cases. Set aside.
  3. Sift the cake flour, baking powder and fine salt into a bowl. Set side.
  4. Mix coconut milk, water, pandan juice (from step 1) and vanilla extract, stir till blended. Set aside.
  5. Place unsalted butter in a mixing bowl, add sugar and beat at medium speed using the paddle attachment till creamy and fluffy. This will take about 3 mins, stop to scrap sides of bowl, then continue for another minute.
  6. Add eggs, one at a time, mix till incorporated.
  7. Add the flour mixture (from step 3), alternating with the coconut/pandan mixture (from step 4), in 3 additions. With each addition, mix till just incorporated, do not overbeat.
  8. Using ice-cream scoop, fill batter into cupcake cases, till about 2/3 full.
  9. Place muffin pan on the middle rack of the oven and bake for about 20 mins.
  10. Remove from oven and cool the cupcakes on a wire rack completely before frosting.
  11. (C) Prepare Gula Melaka Syrup. Place Gula Melaka, water and pandan leaves in a heavy-based saucepan over low heat. Stir until all the sugar has melted, and mixture comes to a boil. Remove from heat and set aside to cool completely.
  12. (D) Prepare buttercream. Place egg whites, sugar and salt in a mixing bowl over a pot of simmering water. Whisk continuously until the mixture is hot to touch and sugar is dissolved (rub some mixture using fingers, if it feels grainy, sugar hasn't dissolved completely).
  13. Transfer to mixer, beat the mixture using whisk attachment on medium high speed for about 4-5 mins, until stiff peaks and mixture has cooled to room temperature (touch the bottom of bowl).
  14. Turn speed to medium and add the butter, piece by piece. Keep beating till mixture gradually turns creamy and velvety, about 4-5 mins.
  15. Add the Gula Melaka syrup, 1 tsp at a time, till incorporated. I added about 5-6 tsp. The buttercream is ready for use.
  16. Transfer buttercream to piping bag and frost the cupcakes. Drizzle some Gula Melaka Syrup leftover (from C) onto the frosting if desired.


This recipe is definitely a keeper!

And if anyone is interested in ordering this cupcake, drop me a note at megtan@singnet.com.sg.


  1. Hi Meg,
    I'm glad you like the cake, it's my favourite too! You sure cannot go wrong with coconut, pandan & gula Melaka. And yes, your presentation with the pandan leaf on the frosting does look atas, seriously. :D Thank you for trying and the shoutout.:)

  2. Hi Meg.
    Congrats for your first weight loss achievement! 加油!
    Your cupcakes sure look very atas with the pandan leaf on the frosting :D
    How i wish i can a cupcake from you :p

  3. Hi Faeez,
    Yes I'm now craving for it again =D

  4. Hi mui mui,
    Thanks! Weight loss is not easy, since I love to eat so much :p
    You can try baking the cake too :)

  5. Hi, your cake looks yummy. Btw can I bake it as a whole cake instead of cupcake. If yes, which inch tray should I use for this recipe? Tks

  6. Hi,
    I haven't tried baking it as a whole cake. Should be able to do it. I reckon you can try 2 x 7" or 8" round pans. And since it's a whole cake, have to bake for 35-45 mins at a lower temperature, probably 160-170 degree celsius. Check surface of cake to prevent browning too fast and test using skewers to check doneness.

  7. Do you have any advice if my cupcake has a hump on top n cracks? Like a volcano peak. Thanks.

  8. Hi Fiona,
    Sometimes my cupcakes also have humps and cracks, it could be the oven temperature, or filling the cases with too much batter. How about try to lower the temp for 5 or 10 degree, and/or filling lesser batter per cup? If the cupcake is cooked through, usually I will shave off the hump and topped with cream to coverup :)

  9. Will the buttercream gets soft or melts?
    I usually have problems with maintaining the stability of buttercream.

  10. This buttercream can stay at room temperature for around 30 mins and remain firm. Beyond that, it will get softer and softer for probably another 30 mins. If you have chilled the whole cupcake together with the buttercream beforehand, the buttercream will stay hard and firm for longer period of time.

  11. Hi, I want to make this cupcake for an event this weekend, and im worried about the frosting. if i substitute the butter with shortening/krimwell, will that make it stay firm longer? helppp

  12. Hi Sya,
    I haven't tried any shortening/krimwell before. What I suggest is to make and frost the cupcakes, chill them in the fridge till the buttercream frosting is hard and firm. Then it will be able to last longer in the open.

  13. You are an artistic baker..lovely cake and deco .I am going to use your this recipe with reduced sugar