Thursday, 29 November 2012

DIY Flavoured Sugars-- Pandan Sugar (Christmas presents, sorted!)



The lights are up, the Christmas songs are playing, and Starbucks have already rolled out their Red Cups of eggnog latte. We are less than a month away from Christmas kids!

To be honest, Christmas has never meant much to me. My family, being very traditional, has never made a huge deal of this "angmoh" (i.e. Caucasian) celebration, and the most we did was to get into my dad's car and join the traffic jam down at Orchard Road to see the Christmas lights. I remember hanging up stockings at the foot of my bed and finding, well, nothing in it the next morning. I blamed it on Enid Blyton's rubbish advice and Santa's carelessness (I was pretty sure I was a good girl), but now I just see that my poor perplexed parents were the ones responsible for my lack of presents. I never got into the habit of sending Christmas cards or buying Christmas presents even when I got older, except for specific Secret Santas/ parties/ unashamed requests, but when I moved to London, I found I could hardly get away with this.

Christmas shopping is a nightmare. All shopping is, really (I know I must be the weirdest girl out there), but the shoppers around this season are the worst; the music around this season, the loudest; and the prices, just ridiculous. Never mind the fact that you're paying 20 pounds for a useless mug, it's also a mug that 2000 other people out there have bought and that 2000 other people out there will receive. I love making my own presents because they are so much more special and meaningful. I've made jams or shit-hot sambals for friends, personalised with a cute hand-drawn label, but this year, I've got an even simpler trick up my sleeve-- flavoured sugars!




DIY Flavoured Sugar
Ingredients
3-4 sprigs of fresh herbs/flowers*
OR 1-2 pandan leaves 
2 cups of unrefined raw cane sugar **

Method
1. Tie the pandan leaves into knots/ lightly bruise and crush the herbs to release their essential oils. 
2. In an airtight jar, add the sugar to the herbs, stirring to distribute and making sure the herbs are submerged.
3. Seal and leave to stand in a cool, dry place for 2 weeks (hence why you must start NOW), stirring every couple of days to evenly distribute the herbal essence and to keep the sugar from clumping (the herbs still have natural moisture in them at this stage).
4. 2 weeks later, the herbs will have started to dry out and the sugar will have absorbed the herbs' essential oils. Tie a pretty ribbon and/or stick on a pretty label and that's your Christmas present sorted!



*You can do this with any fresh herbs on hand, like mint or thyme, or perhaps lavender. I've gone for pandan, otherwise known as screwpine leaves. I smuggled a plant back from Singapore, but you can buy the leaves from Asian stores, or your own pot from some nurseries. It's not been doing well, so on a trusted plant-geek's (James Wong @botanygeek) tip, I've snipped off all the leaves to prevent further dehydration until it's (hopefully) resurrected, and so this is a brilliant way to make the most of/ preserve my crop.

Pandan is THE Singaporean/ Malaysian plant used to add fragrance to all manners of sweet and savoury dishes. I don't even know how to describe the fragrance because it's so distinct and unique. It would be like trying to describe vanilla.This is wonderful to sweeten puddings and jellies (especially those made with coconut milk) or you can even use it to give a sweet contrasting note to a soy sauce marinade for instance, with an extra whiff of heavenly pandan fragrance. **It's great to sprinkle over your puds and pies too, in which case consider icing sugar for a powdery finish or demerera sugar for a crunchy touch. 

Flavoured sugars sound like the sort of thing you might find in a posh Selfridges counter, but are so simple to make, don't  cost much at all, and can take you less time than the tube ride down to Oxford Circus. And presents are so much better when they're edible, don't you think?



These were some other pandan gift ideas I was contemplating, worth checking out:
Kaya (pandan coconut curd jam)
Wendy's pandan essence/ concentrate


45 comments:

  1. absolutely beautiful! i love edible christmas gifts. where can you get pandan leaves in london?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You can get them from Chinatown! You can also find them in certain nurseries here, apparently they grow quite well here (:

      Delete
  2. I know what it smells like; stinky old-fashioned taxis! But still I long for some pandan sugar to make kaya for my husband's Christmas. Going to scour the web for a place that will send me fresh pandan leaves (not holding out much hope). Gorgeous pics btw :-)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. My mum also threw pandan leaves into the backseat of her car to keep cockroaches away. I know you find it stinky but I love the smell! I throw some around the flat and in the cupboards too when I've got extra. For one week my clothes all smelt of pandan, mmmm...

      Delete
  3. I love the idea of making edible Christmas presents, especially as it saves the stress of Christmas shopping! These are really unique, great idea and they look so pretty in their jars too. :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes anythign to avoid Christmas shopping ;) Plus, these really are so easy to make :)

      Delete
  4. Nice idea, practical and budget friendly:)
    Does your home have a chimney? If not that probably explains why the stockings never got filled up.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hah nice try. But I think I found out Santa doesn't exist quite a few years ago.

      Delete
  5. great idea my hubby is Indian but is happy for Kids to have christmas I am christian not sure where I would find pandan leaves though

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. you can do this with other herbs at hand, this is just a great gift idea anyway (:

      Delete
  6. I learn something new everyday---love the pandan leaves =)

    ReplyDelete
  7. I love the idea of edible presents... the best kind I say...
    So, tell me, is pandan leaf now available in the UK? or do I need to smuggle some from Indonesia before I leave back for the UK? :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. all things are better edible I say. yep, chinatown has it ;)

      Delete
  8. I don't comment often but I'm constantly amazed with your creativity with Southeast Asian culinary. This is such a cute gift :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. aw thanks jo! Please comment more often, it's great to hear from you!

      Delete
  9. Hi SH, that's very interesting and creative. I'll be very happy to receive that as a X'mas gift.

    Totally agree with you that edible x'mas presents are so much better. I'm making chocolates this weekend!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Trade you that for pandan sugar? ;)

      Delete
  10. You are so creative!! i remembered i did vanilla beans sugar before but never thought of pandan sugar..and it sound like a wonderful idea as a Christmas gift!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Aw thanks sonia! You are always the one inspiring me with your blog!

      Delete
  11. These look amazing. It would be great to get one for a Christmas gift.

    ReplyDelete
  12. Hi Shu Han, I do see our mutual friends...thanks for hopping over to my blog, and for your kind words...I hopped back and following your blog; invite you to do the same!

    I love the idea of of 'edible' presents; I agree with Michael:) such a pretty presentation of your Pandan sugar in pretty jars! Very innovative, and original! xo

    ReplyDelete
  13. Shu Han, I would not be very attached to Christmas if it wasn't for the presents... Frankly, I'm like a child: every present excuse is good :-)
    I love shopping, but hate doing it for Christmas, especially when everyone is running like crazy and shops are full of nervous customers.
    Home-made presents are the best, but your pandan sugar would be a huge hit especially in Europe where few people have ever heard of pandan. Thank you for inspiring idea! I'm not sure though if I would be able to decorate it as beautifully as you...

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I love presents too sissi, just that it never was a thing we did for xmas.

      Hehe maybe I should have made loads and brought them over to france eh? ;)
      And, I'm sure you can decorate it as beautifully, in your own way!

      Delete
  14. Awesome idea, Shu Han, I'll be looking for Pandan leaves in Chinatown for sure.

    ReplyDelete
  15. I am with you on the home made gifts. I think people appreciate them far more anyhow as you have thought about the gifts and created them. I will be making some presents this year but the trouble is pandan leaves are tricky although I do live very near to a lavender field so this may be my choice of sugar this year :))

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'm a fan of homemade gifts (: Lavender sugar sounds amazing, yes do please make it! This post is relaly just to give people ideas on making their own flavoured sugars, you can use any herb you fancy/ can get hold of! (although, if you really want pandan, you can get some in ctown)

      Delete
  16. I've never heard of pandan - what does it taste like? I like the idea of flavoured sugars though. Normally I stick a load of sugar in a tub and dump in the scraped out vanilla pods when I use them, to make vanilla sugar, but that's very widely used, so wouldn't be that special - I love the idea of other varieties though - great idea!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You can use any herbs you like to flavour sugar too, so don't let the lack of pandan restrict you! You should tyr pandan one day, I have a feelign you'll really like it. ILike I said, I can't describe what it tastes like :/ It's a smell of its own...

      Delete
  17. I read the Facebook update and it tickled me pink.
    That's how your friends percieve the smell of pandan?
    LOL, now I know why westerners dislike Pandan

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. haha not all of them feel the same don't worry!!! I think most people do love the smell of pandan...

      Delete
  18. The only way to do Christmas shopping in London is to go equipped with a taser and a cattle prod. I hate Oxford Street at the best of times, but when you add Xmas madness to the mix is becomes the tenth circle of Hell.

    So, I reckon your home made present idea is a winner. I've done the same with flavoured oils in the sash - chilli and herb mostly - and it was a winner. Maybe this year I'll give sweet things a go. Wondering they sell pandan leaves in Brighton...

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. hah I'll keep the taser and cattle prod tip in mind. I hate oxford street whihever time of the year it is.

      well even if there's no pandan, don't give up on this! use lavender or mint or some herb you can find,; these make wonderful easy gifts!

      Delete
  19. Ooooh... What a coincidence that I just blogged a pandan dessert recipe!! I seriously can't get enough of the stuff. Pandan and gula melaka are my two ultimate favourite Asian ingredients ever. You really are so creative to store them with your sugar sounds absolutely amazeballs I wanna do it too! Very sharp of you to pick up this idea by taking the usual vanilla pod in sugar and replacing it with our Asian vanilla. Hope all is well with you, Shu Han and that you've got a great Christmas planned ahead! =D

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. aw thanks so much winston, I jsut went over to see you kueh seri muka. wow. this is total peanuts compared to what you did. hats off.

      Delete
  20. I like edible gifts :) this seems to be the perfect gift!

    ReplyDelete
  21. I am always amazed by your beautiful pictures every time I visit your site. I've never cooked with pandan leaves but I've had wonderful experience with pandan flavored cakes. I'll keep my eyes open next time I visit a Southeast Asian supermarket. Thanks for sharing this wonderful gift:)

    ReplyDelete
  22. Oh, flavoured sugars, what a perfectly delightful Christmas present! I would love to receive any of them under the tree :) I hope Santa fills your stocking this year ;)

    ReplyDelete
  23. I love pandan flavored cakes. These sugars sound so easy & perfect as a homemade holiday gift! Love the idea.

    ReplyDelete
  24. Clever girl you :) thats a nice idea, but i guess its too late for me this christmas round. I'm sure your friends will love this. Merry Christmas!

    ReplyDelete
  25. Hi Shu Han, Wow! This is a great idea! I've never thought of adding pandan leaf in my sugar jar before. Only added vanilla pod. Thanks for sharing , will definitely do that!

    ReplyDelete
  26. I think this is a wonderful gift idea. It shows a lot more creativity and imagination. Silly me - I thought Pandan leaves were from Thailand as I've used them a lot in Thai cuisine but thanks for clarifying Shu-Han :-)

    ReplyDelete
  27. This comment has been removed by the author.

    ReplyDelete
  28. I like this recipe . I think it will be better to use cookware set to make this type of cake . I also try to make it by using cookware set because it helps not to cling with utensils and gives a proper shape for decoration .proper decoration helps for eating .

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Do you need Sugar Mummy/Daddy? Hurry up now and contact Mrs Sandra on (08140553826) she just linked/hook me up with a rich mummy after I have been played/scam online by some people all the name of sugar mummy, no much talks hurry up now call her on ( 08140553826) and testify/see for your own self don't waist time, she is genuine just follow her rules and in 24hours she will link
      you up! Allah she is nice.

      Delete
  29. The best post.
    Thanks for share this article.
    I look forward to your new article
    browse around this web-site p

    ReplyDelete