These are a popular sweet in Malaysia, Singapore and Indonesia (where they are called klepon) and are eaten as a morning or afternoon snack. While not difficult to make, it takes a bit of practise to fashion the dough around the chopped sugar to form neat balls - dont worry if yours end up being misshapen, they will still be delicious! The sugar turns to liquid when these cook, so be wary when they’re hot as the sugar can burn your mouth. Use finely grated frozen coconut you prefer it to shredded.
- 200 g (2 cups) frozen shredded coconut, thawed (see Note)
- 1 tsp salt
- 20 pandan leaves, finely chopped
- 300 ml water
- 250 g glutinous rice flour
- 30 g (¼ cup) tapioca flour
- 120 g (⅔ cup) chopped palm sugar
Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.
Bring a steamer to the boil. Place the coconut on a plate large enough to fit inside the steamer then sprinkle over the salt. Steam the coconut for about 7 minutes or until tender. Remove and cool.
Meanwhile, combine the pandan leaves and water in a food processor or blender then process until the pandan is chopped to a fine mulch. Strain the mixture through a sieve lined with muslin, pressing hard on the solids to extract as much of the liquid as possible.
Combine the flours in a large bowl. Slowly add 250 ml (1 cup) of the pandan liquid, using your hands to stir until a smooth firm dough forms; if it is a little dry, add a few teaspoons of the remaining pandan liquid, or some water. Cover the dough in the bowl with a damp cloth to prevent it from drying out.
Bring a large saucepan of water the boil. Take a tablespoonful of the dough and roll into a ball. Flatten the ball using your hands to form a circle about 6 cm across. Place the flattened dough in your palm then place about a teaspoonful of palm sugar in the centre of the circle. Bring the edges together over the sugar to enclose, then pinch together to seal. Re-roll into a neat shape. Repeat with the remaining dough and sugar.
Drop the balls, in 2 batches, into the boiling water and cook until they rise to the surface. Cook for another 3 minutes then remove using a slotted spoon, draining well.
Place the coconut into a bowl and roll the balls in the coconut to coat. Serve on the day of making.
• You can find frozen shredded coconut in the freezer section of Thai supermarkets.
Photography, styling and food preparation by china squirrel.