Pandan Chiffon Cake
The verdant, cushiony pandan chiffon cake is said to be of Indonesian or Malaysian origin with Dutch influences. Its striking green hue comes from the juice of pandan leaves, a popular ingredient in Asian desserts (not to be confused with pandas). Coconut milk, another ingredient common in Southeast Asian cooking, gives the cake a creamy richness. The dessert’s fame has spread far and wide, so much so that American news outlet CNN crowned it ‘Singapore’s national cake’ – which makes it even more tempting for you to sink your teeth into one.
Chendol snuggles its way into the hearts of Singaporeans like an essential cup of morning kopi (coffee). Even though it’s a common Southeast Asian dessert (also found in countries like Indonesia and Malaysia), the Singaporean version is one of the best. Chendol is composed of shaved ice drenched in syrupy palm sugar and creamy coconut milk, filled with squiggly, green rice flour jelly (or pandan mung bean flour jelly) and sweetened red adzuki beans. Topped with creamed corn, durian or grass jelly, you can customize this sweet treat to your personal liking.
Ah Balling, also called tang yuan, are soft and slightly chewy glutinous rice balls stuffed with mouthwatering ingredients like peanut, red bean or sesame paste. They are served in a sweet broth which is often infused with ginger, although peanut soup is also very popular. Ah Balling is a Chinese dessert that was traditionally served during the Winter Solstice and Chinese New Year to symbolize togetherness. Today you can enjoy this dish all year round.
Cheng Tng means ‘clear soup’ – a refreshing bowl of cane sugar soup that comes with ample red dates, longans, lotus seeds, sago, barley and white fungus. This classic Chinese dessert is a quintessential offering in Singapore’s hawker centers and can be eaten hot or cold, depending on how you like it. It is thought to soothe the throat and quench thirst, making it a perfect dessert for Singapore’s sweltering weather.
This list would not be complete without what might be the mother of all Singapore desserts, Ice Kachang. There are red beans, jelly, chendol and attap chee (palm seed) hidden under a mountain of shaved ice, then soaked in the rainbow and doused with evaporated milk. A hit of Ice Kachang is sublime in the hot and humid weather. At many stalls, you can also add extra toppings like sweet corn, mango, durian or chopped peanuts.
This dessert of Indonesian origin has all the typical Southeast Asian ingredients: coconut milk, pandan leaves and palm sugar. Black glutinous rice is painstakingly boiled until soft and creamy, then simmered with palm sugar and pandan leaves and served with swirls of coconut milk. Also a fixture of many dessert stalls in Singapore’s hawker centres, pulut hitam is both a filling snack and dessert of choice for many locals.