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Sunday, June 19, 2011

Toasted Coconut Pandan Macarons - tastes, smells and feels like home

Pandan is a prominent feature in Asian dessert, especially for Southeast Asia region where I came from. Its use is similar to vanilla to western cooking, to flavour dessert and cakes. It is also used with meat and rice dishes (the popular chicken wrapped in pandan leaves, and rice cooked with pandan as examples).

Pandan leaves (Bai-toey inThai) is an upright green plant with fan-shaped sprays of long, narrow, bladelike leaves (source: It has fragrant, sweet and mellow aroma and usually available frozen at Asian grocery stores (or fresh if you live in Southeast Asia).

Pandan and coconut are classic food pairing in Asian dessert (like vanilla and milk/cream in western cuisine). It is used in cake, pudding, jelly, and many more. I wanted to try making Asian inspired macaron. Umm, sort of east meets west. Pandan and coconut was the first flavour that came to my mind.

I used pandan leaves (you can also used the pandan flavouring essence, available at Asian stores) to infuse the cream used in white chocolate ganache. I also included toasted desiccated coconuts in the ganache and macaron shell. I love toasted coconut. I think toasting them enhanced their flavour and delivered fantastic aroma. It made the cooking/baking even more enjoyable.

I replaced both icing sugar and almond meal at the equal amount with desiccated coconut. When I made Cherry Ripe macarons  a couple of months back, I only replaced almond meal with desiccated coconut (kept the icing sugar the same), I found macarons were too sweet as desiccated coconut was already sweet itself.

Macaron shells were a little chewier and stickier than usual which I believed resulted from desiccated coconut in the shell. The flavour was great. It was really aromatic with toasted coconut and pandan. The taste and aroma reminded me of my hometown.

Toasted Coconut Pandan Macarons Recipe
Make about 25 3-cm macarons

More details on Basic Mararons using Italian Meringue techniques can be found here.

You can also see more detailed intructions on making macarons in my Basic Macaron Recipe and I heart Macarons blogs (however, they are recipes using French meringue method. Most of the processes are similar between Italian’s and French’s. The only difference is the handling of sugar and egg white).

Macarons shell ingredients

100 g pure icing sugar
100 g almond meal (almond flour or ground almond)
50 g ground toasted desiccated coconut
100 g egg whites (separated 24 -48 hours in advance and is at room temperature)
125 g caster sugar (super fine sugar)
30 ml water (2 tablespoons)
Green colouring powder or liquid

Toasted coconut pandan chocolate ganache
100 g white chocolate, chopped
100 ml thickened cream (minimum 35% fat content)
4 -5 pandan leaves  or 1 teaspoon pandan essence
20 g butter

35 g toasted desiccated coconut
few drops of green colouring liquid (optional)

Making macarons shells
Roast desiccated coconut in the heavy-base pan over low-medium heat until they are slightly golden and aromatic. Regularly shake the pan to ensure that they are toasted evenly and not getting burnt.

Grind roasted coconut in food processor until finely ground. Divide into two portions for making shell (50 g) and ganache (35 g).

Sift almond meal, 50 g ground coconut and icing sugar together through fine sieve and set aside.

Divide egg whites into two equal portions (50 g each portion).  Pour the first portion of egg white (50 g) and colouring powder into the icing sugar mixture.  Don’t mix or stir them, just leave it as is.

Put the water and caster sugar in a heavy-base saucepan over medium-high heat. When the syrup start to boil, place the rest of egg white (50 g) into a mixing bowl, using the whip attachment, whip egg white to the soft peak. When the syrup reaches 118°C (on a thermometer), take if off the heat and let it cool down to 115°C (or until the bubbles subside).

While the mixer is still running, slowly pour the sugar syrup down the side of the bowl. Be careful not to pour syrup onto the whip as it might spatter.
Continue mixing until the meringue cool down to slightly above body temperature (50°C) or when the side of the mixing bowl is warm to touch. The whipped egg white will be (very) stiff and glossy.

Mix a third of whipped egg white into the almond meal mixture and combine them well. At this step, I work the mixture very vigorously to blend the egg white with almond meal mixture. Fold the rest of whipped egg white into the mixture and mix well, yet gently, until the batter is smooth. The batter will be thick. It resembles a very thick cake batter, or as many web sites describe it as a magma-like consistency (I believe it means the thick batter would flow slowly like a magma).

Put the mixture into a piping bag fitted with 1-cm plain tip (size #11). Pipe the staggering rows of 1-inch rounds onto baking papers or baking sheets. You will need two trays for this recipe.

Let the piped shells stand at room temperature for 30 – 60 minutes to let the crust forms. This depends on the room temperature and humidity. When the piped shells are dry to touch without it sticking to your fingers, they are ready to go into the oven.

Preheat the oven to 160°C (fan-force or convection oven, increase the temperature by 20°C if you’re using conventional oven) for at least 15 minutes. Just before baking, turn the temperature down to 150°C and bake the macarons for 15 minutes.

Lift the baking papers/sheets off the baking tray to the cooling rack and let it completely cool down before removing macarons (it is easier to remove cool macarons off the sheet. They are also less likely to stick to the paper). 

Sandwich cool macarons shell with chilled coconut pandan ganache.

Store macarons in airtight container in the fridge. Macarons will taste better after they are chilled overnight.

Making toasted coconut pandan chocolate ganache
Put white chocolate in a separate bowl. 

Wash pandan leaves and tie them into knots (I tied leaves together into one knots).

Place cream and pandan leaves in a small saucepan over medium heat and bring the mixture to the boil. Turn off the heat and let the mixture stand for 30 minutes to infuse the pandan flavour.

Return the cream mixture to the medium heat and bring it to the boil. Remove pandan leaves and pour the cream mixture over white chocolate. Leave it for about 10-20 seconds. Stir the chocolate and cream mixture until melted. Scatter butter pieces on the mixture and stir until well combine. Mix through toasted coconut and colouring liquid (if using) until well combined.
Chill the ganache at least an hour before using.  

Submitting this post to Weekend Herb Blogging hosted by Winnie at Healthy Green Kitchen.


  1. hi Sue,

    oh it must be so good, I can smell them from here :)
    I so need to get my hands on some almond flour, I'm in an abstinence for macarons :D


  2. You had me at coconut!!! I think I would love the chewier macaron shell. Now I just have to figure out where to get Pandan leaves in Ottawa. These are just gorgeous. Did you use sweetened or unsweetened desiccated coconut? I will be trying these very soon.

  3. Great looking macarons! Thanks for submitting them to WHB 288!

  4. @ Ceren...the macaron was really aromatic, from both toasted coconut and pandan. It smelt like an Asian dessert:)

    @ saltandserenity - Hahaha, aren't we all coconut lover? I used the organic unsweetened coconut. With pandan, try the Asian grocer, they usually stock frozen pandan leaves, or even pandan essence. I was surprised that it was easier to find pandan leaves in Australia than in Bangkok. I mean the convenience and easy access, pandan can be found in any Asian grocers here. But, I would have to seek out in a major fresh food market in Bangkok. If all else fails, you can always used vanilla instead (or lavender, perhaps).

    @Winnie - It's a pleasure to participate in WHB and thanks for hosting:)


  5. hi, i probably been here before cos i've bookmarked your site in my computer. it's my first time seeing coconut pandan macarons, the colour is so lovely, great blog!!

  6. thank you, lena. I'm glad you like the macaron and the blog:)