Palm sugar was originally made from the sugary sap of the Palmyra palm or the date palm. Now it is also made from the sap of the sago and coconut palms and may be sold as "coconut sugar." The sugar is a golden brown paste, sold in tubes, blocks or tin cans. It may be light-coloured or dark, soft and gooey or hard. As a lightly-processed product of cottage industry, it varies greatly from batch to batch.
then came the moment of truth...the TASTE test! yes, i always allow myself one cupcake of every batch i make because i need to be able to judge the taste, consistency, texture, etc. otherwise how can i compare? well, this one i think is probably one of my favourites in the taste department. the flavours went so well together i was so pleased. there was this lovely almost burnt sugar taste of the cupcake that palm sugar often gives off (that's not a great description but hopefully you get what i mean here!) that contrasted so well with the sweet, creaminess of the vanilla rice pudding. i really couldn't have asked for anything better. just adored it! this would be a perfect choice for an asian dinner party because the flavours are not too strong of ginger or cardamom but still exotic and a joy to eat with the different textures of the spongey cupcake and the creamy rice pudding. i am, of course, seriously considering another one of these!
and the recipe...
Palm Sugar Cupcakes
1 3/4 c. all purpose flour
1 t. baking soda
1/2 t. salt
200 g palm sugar, grated
1/2 c. butter
2/3 c. coconut milk
1 t. vanilla extract
preheat your oven to usual temperature. line your cupcake pan.
in a mixer, beat butter and palm sugar until light and fluffy (note : this will not be the same texture as when you use regular sugar)
add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.
combine coconut milk and vanilla together.
sift flour, baking soda and salt together and add to the batter alternating with coconut milk mixture until fully incorporate.
spoon batter into cupcake cases and bake for 20 mins. cool on a wire rack.
Vanilla Rice Pudding
1 c. water
pinch of salt
1/2 T. butter
1/2 c. arborio rice
2 c. milk
4 T. sugar
1 t. vanilla extract or 1 vanilla pod
few dashes of ground cinnamon
bring water, salt and butter to the boil in a saucepan. add rice and return to the boil. reduce heat and using the lowest setting, cook the rice until rice has absorbed the water but is still al dente - about 15 mins.
bring milk, sugar, vanilla and cinnamon to a simmer in a separate saucepan. add cooked rice and simmer over medium-low heat until rice absorbs most of the milk and mixture starts to get thick and silky - about 15 mins.
transfer to a bowl to cool.
using the cone method cut out a section from each cupcake, scooping out more cake if necessary. trim the top. fill each hole with the rice pudding and replace the top or put to one side. sprinkle with nutmeg.