Pandan Christmas Tree
Pandan is the trend of 2018! Well, according to British TV chief Nigella Lawson in The Times. ‘Pandan leaf is the new matcha’, she states and of course, she is right ;-). That’s why we make a Pandan Christmas Tree today!
Pandan or Pandanus amaryllifolius comes from a type of palm that is also called screwpine. Just look at these Google search results; this is how a pandanus looks like.
Cakes and cookies
Pandan amaryllifolius is delicious in sweet desserts like cakes and cookies. But also terrific in curry’s or wrapped around chicken for example.
Pandan is widely used in Thailand and Indonesia. I also ate it a lot in Burma and Malaysia.
The smell of pandan always does something to me. It evokes images of my Indo family years ago or all the trips we’ve made to Asia.
Today I use pandan extract (I buy at my local Asian store) and I mix it through my meringue!
This pandan Christmas tree consists of several disks that I pipped a little smaller each time on parchment paper. I’ve stacked them up just before serving and I’ve sprinkled icing sugar over them; a beautiful edible tree in the middle of a Christmas table.
Pandan Christmas tree
This recipe is enough for 1 large pandan Christmas tree and some little ones around it. It takes two hours to make (including baking time).
2 egg whites (from large to medium eggs)
100 grams of white caster sugar (50 grams per egg white)
edible silver pearls to garnish (metal pearls remain in the oven, the ordinary ones are not)
glass or metal dish
Preheat the oven to 100 degrees and (if possible) set also on ‘hot air‘.
Use a super clean bowl and whisks. A little bit of fat (also from the egg yolk) will ensure the egg whites to collapse; they will never be frothy and foamy.
Beat 2 egg whites with a mixer at half speed. You can separate the eggs yourself, or buy a jar of egg whites in the supermarket.
When the egg whites form cloudy peaks, the sugar can be added. Spoon sugar slowly ( tablespoon by tablespoon) into the egg whites and mix well with each scoop until all sugar has disappeared. Add two teaspoons of pandan extract when all the sugar is added.
Mix well for a few minutes. You’ll see that the foam starts to shine, because of the sugar. The egg whites are ready when it forms a firm, motionless peak when you take out the whisk. The peak must remain its shape. Then you know for sure that your egg whites are perfect.
In the picture above I’ve added no pandan as you can see. This way I can show better how the whipped egg whites should look like when they are done.
For my pandan meringue Christmas tree, I fill a piping bag with a narrow tip. This way the edges of the tree look like real branches. But really any piping bag tip works. For the tree, it is important that you pipe nice even discs. Not too thin and not too thick (about 1,5 centimeters).
Pipe on the baking sheet covered with parchment paper, several slices from big to small. Here and there I place a silver pearl to make my tree even more Christmassy!
Egg white leftover?
Now make a few smaller meringues to place around the tree. I use a different nozzle (5 point nozzle) for my little ones. That way they get beautiful edges. The most beautiful meringue goes on top of the tree.
My little meringues are marbled with pandan.
I achieve the marble effect by dipping a skewer into the jar of pandan extract and I ‘paint’ streaks of pandan extract from the bottom to the top of the bag before I add the batter.
Baking = drying
Bake or better ‘dry’ the meringues in an oven of 100 degrees Celsius for 1 hour and 45 minutes dry and crispy. Leave them to cool for 15 minutes in an open oven.
Carefully remove the discs from the baking paper. You can build and serve them half-warm immediately, but this dessert is easy to prepare (a week in advance) too.
If you keep the disks in an airtight container or ziplock bag they will stay really crispy for a long time. Once on the table, they really need to be eaten. Meringues eventually turn soft.
Build the tree just before serving and sprinkle some icing sugar over it for an extra Christmas effect! Make a strong cup of coffee or tea and your Christmas dessert is a true feast!