Take one bite into these Pandan waffles and you will be met with the crispy outer skin, a chewy soft interior that is bursting with a delightful coconut pandan flavor. This Vietnamese Pandan waffle is everything you never know you needed.
Have you ever walked into a Vietnamese shop that sold pandan waffles? The smell is intoxicating. The deep coconut and pandan smell seep into every pore of your being and you instantly transport to a tropical haven. The smell catches your immediate attention, but the texture and taste seal the deal. These complex novel green waffles have a crispy golden brown casing that wraps around the airy and chewy center that is incredibly addicting. They are made with three distinct flours and a rich coconut milk base that blends beautifully with freshly squeezed pandan extract. You can grab this waffle as a snack along with some Vietnamese spring rolls (Goi Cuon, Bo Bia, or Nem Nuong) and you have got yourself a delicious Vietnamese-themed picnic!
What is Pandan?
Pandan is a tropical plant that is grown mostly in Southeast Asia. It has fragrant leaves which are used widely for flavoring in Southeast Asian cuisines. Pandan has a naturally sweet taste and soft aroma that is grassy with hints of rose, almond, vanilla, and coconut. Pandan leaves provide a unique taste and aroma to flavor desserts and drinks as well as savory dishes. There are many different uses for pandan depending on its form—leaves, paste, extract, or powder. They can be used to wrap steamed foods or as a flavoring in baked goods and desserts.
Pandan leaves can be purchased fresh, frozen, or dried at Asian grocery stores or online. You can also find the paste, extract, and powder in any Asian grocery store or online.
What is the texture of a Pandan Waffle?
A Vietnamese Pandan Waffle (Banh Kep La Dua) has a crisp outer skin and a soft and chewy texture on the inside. The secret to achieving this beautiful texture is in the mixture of 3 flours: 1) Tapioca starch, 2) rice flour and 3) all-purpose flour. The tapioca starch provides the chewy center, the rice flour makes the waffle crispy and the all-purpose flour ties it all together.
Kitchen Equipment Needed
- Mixing Bowls: I love using these Duralex nesting glass mixing bowls. They are perfect when you need multiple mixing bowls in various sizes.
- Whisk: a whisk is used to mix the batter together.
- Fine Mesh Sieve: sifting the ingredients with a fine mesh sieve is key to providing a smoother batter without over mixing
- Waffle Maker: You can use any waffle maker for this recipe. Traditionally pandan waffles are made in a deeper Belgium waffle maker. I used this Cuisinart Waffle Maker and it turned out crispy and delicious.
Ingredients For This Recipe
You can find all of these ingredients online or at your local Chinese, Vietnamese or Asian grocery store.
- Pandan Leaves or Pandan Extract: This is the star ingredient of the waffle. I recommend trying to find fresh or frozen leaves to create the extract yourself at home. Otherwise if pandan leaves are not readily available, you can buy this pandan extract online.
- Tapioca Starch: or Tapioca flour gives the waffle a chewy, gooey texture.
- Rice Flour: do not confuse this with glutinous rice flour. The rice flour also allows the waffle to have a crisp outer texture.
- All Purpose Flour: regular all purpose flour mixed with the tapioca starch and the rice flour will create that perfect chewy texture.
- Granulated Sugar: the granulated sugar adds a touch of sweetness to the coconut milk and pandan flavor
- Baking Powder: the baking powder is the rising agent in the waffle that allows the batter to rise.
- Salt: the salt balances out the sweetness of the coconut milk.
- Large Eggs: the eggs assist in the rise of the waffle
- Coconut Milk the coconut milk sweetens the pandan flavor and creates a rich coconut flavor to the waffle. Opt for Chef's Choice coconut milk for the best flavor.
- Vegetable Oil: the vegetable oil smooths out the consistency of the batter and helps create the crunchy coating on the outside of the waffle. Without oil, waffles are likely to have a soft outside with one-dimensional color.
- Heavy Whipping Cream the heavy whipping cream is a base for the whipped cream and helps the coconut milk to thicken
- Powdered Sugar adds a touch of sweetness to the coconut whipped cream
How to Make This Recipe
For this recipe, I provided two different options depending on whether you are using fresh pandan leaves or artificial pandan extract. I recommend fresh pandan leaves for a beautiful rich pandan flavor without any artificial ingredients. But if you cannot find pandan leaves near you the extract works too!
Fresh Pandan Extract (Option 1)
- Blend the pandan leaves. Defrost pandan leaves, if frozen, and wash the leaves under running water. Slice the pandan leaves into 1 inch sections and add to your blender. Pour in the water and pulverize the leaves into tiny pieces.
- Strain the extract. Place a cheese cloth, or thin dish towel or linen over a bowl and pour the blended pandan leaves onto it. Squeeze all the juice out of the pandan leaves into the bowl.
Artificial Extract (Option 2)
- In a small mixing bowl, add the artificial extract drops to the water and mix. Set aside.
- Mix the dry ingredients. In a medium mixing bowl, sift the tapioca starch, rice flour, all purpose flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt whisk until thoroughly combined.
- Mix the wet ingredients. In second large mixing bowl, whisk the eggs . Then, add the coconut milk, pandan extract, and oil.
- Mix the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients. Carefully pour the dry mixture into the wet mixture bowl and fold carefully to prevent from over mixing the batter. The batter should thicken and leave some remaining lumps.
- Let the batter rest for 1 hour. Leave the batter on the counter and rest for one hour to allow the baking powder to absorb the wet ingredients which will allow the waffle to rise.
- Preheat the waffle iron. Give the batter a quick stir and pre-heat your waffle iron. Lightly grease the waffle iron with spray oil. Using a ladle, pour three to four scoops onto the waffle iron and cook on medium high heat. Do not open the waffle maker while it is releasing steam. The waffle should be done when there is little to no steam coming out of your waffle maker. Your waffle should be golden brown with some green peeking out on the sides.
- Serve. Take out the waffle and let it cool on a wire rack to crisp up. Sprinkle on some powdered sugar and enjoy!
Tips for This Recipe
- Use real pandan leaves. Using fresh pandan leaves provides a more delicious and fresh flavor you just will not get from an artificial extract.
- For a boost in green color, use a couple drops of pandan extract or food coloring. The one downside in using fresh pandan leaves is that you will not have as rich of a green color to your waffles. To achieve that vibrant green color, simply drop 1-2 drops of pandan extract in your batter or add gel-food coloring.
- Sift your dry ingredients! This is important in creating a smoother batter without having to over mix your batter.
- Do not over mix your batter. It is OKAY to leave some clumps in your batter. This will aid in its rise in the waffle maker.
- Let the batter rest for at least 1 hour. This resting time is KEY for the batter to rise. This time gives the baking powder time to absorb into the batter evenly and provide an even rise in the waffle.
- Do not open the waffle maker while it is releasing steam. This is entirely normal for the waffle maker to steam while cooking this waffle. Make sure to not open the waffle maker until all the steam has dissipated.
Can you make this recipe ahead of time?
Yes! You can make the batter up to 1 week in advance. Simply cover the batter with plastic wrap pressed directly on the batter to prevent it from developing a film or in an airtight container and place it in the refrigerator.
For already cooked waffles, you can store them in the refrigerator or freezer and reheat them in the oven before serving. They will not have the same texture as fresh waffles but they will still taste delicious!