Pandan Cupcakes with Lychee Buttercream Frosting
If you’re familiar with Southeast Asian desserts, you might have heard of an ingredient called Pandan- an aromatic green leaf that lends a distinctive flavor and sweet scent. When I think of Pandan I automatically think of Indonesia and Singapore where all types of Pandan cakes abound. While living in America, I created these Pandan Cupcakes with Lychee Buttercream Frosting to bring a little of home to my kitchen. Lychee is another naturally sweet and aromatic fruit from Asia that pairs beautifully with a lightly flavored cupcake. These green cupcakes use no food coloring so they make a perfect dessert for St. Patrick’s Day or Christmas.

Makes 1 dozen

3/4 cup unsalted butter at room temperature
2/3 cup sugar
4 medium sized eggs
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup whole milk
1 tablespoon pandan extract
Lychee Buttercream
1 cup unsalted butter
1 1/2 cups confectioners’ sugar (powdered sugar)
1 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla essence
1/3 cup whole milk
1 cup lychee, seeded and finely chopped


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. In one bowl, sift together the dry ingredients- flour, baking powder and salt. Set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, whisk the butter until fluffy then add the sugar and cream until smooth. Add the eggs one by one, whisking briefly between each.

Add the vanilla extract and whisk for another minute. Alternate between adding the dry ingredients and the milk, starting with the dry ingredients first. Do this in 3 to 4 batches, whisking briefly between each addition. Finally, add the Pandan extract using a spatula to gently mix it in.

Line a cupcake baking sheet with cupcake liners. Bake the batter for 18 to 20 minutes. Use a skewer to gently pierce the middle of a cupcake and test for moistness. If it’s very moist then bake for another 2 to 3 minutes or so. Remove the cupcakes from the oven and allow to cool completely before frosting.

For the buttercream frosting, in another mixing bowl, whip the butter until fluffy then add the vanilla essence and whip again for a few second before adding the confectioners’ sugar. Scrape down the sides and whip the butter and sugar until thoroughly mixed. Slowly add the milk and continue whipping for a few more seconds. Finally add the lychee, mixing until well incorporated. Spoon onto the cupcakes for a rustic look or use a frosting pipe bag to create swirls.