Thai Steamed Coconut-Pandan Cake (Khanom Chan)

Thai Steamed Coconut-Pandan Cake (Khanom Chan)

khanom chan
Thai Steamed Coconut-Pandan Cake (Khanom Chan)Matt Taylor-Gross

Think of these silky, chewy, coconutty gummies as richer, more flavorful Jello jigglers, made with a steamed batter of coconut milk with sticky rice flour and tapioca and arrowroot starches. It's a labor of love: to form the neat layers, you have to let the previous layer steam enough until set but still a little tacky before adding the next. The cake also benefits enormously from making your own pandan extract; though you can buy pre-made extract in Thai groceries, it won't compare to the unique sweet herbal fragrance of the fresh leaves. (You can buy fresh or frozen pandan leaves online or in well-stocked Thai groceries.)

Peerasri Montreeprasat, the chef at Sugar Club, a Thai grocery and cafe in New York, stresses the importance of wiping down the lid of the steamer during cooking to avoid any water dripping onto the top of the cake (at Sugar Club she does this every few minutes). And about that food coloring: It's optional, but it's the best way to keep the green layer of the cake looking bright, not olive drab.