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Archive for January, 2009

Palm Sugar in Kanom Chan

In an attempt for authenticity, purchase I made two kanom chans today.  The first is my standard kanom chan recipe.  The second was with palm sugar instead of refined white sugar.

Because palm sugar is less sweet than white sugar, I changed the recipe to include 1 cup of palm sugar.

The result was surprising (at least to me).   Even with 1 cup palm sugar vs 3/4 cup palm sugar, the sugar syrup was less sweet.  This was expected.  What I didn’t expect was the intensity of the caramel flavor of the palm sugar after cooking.

The biggest surprise was that I preferred the white sugar version. The palm sugar and coconut flavor was hedonistic – slightly custardy is taste, but it reminded me of another Thai dessert.

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Kanom Chan recipe

I have over 10 Thai cookbooks from the 70’s to 00’s, diagnosis and surprisingly no Kanom Chan recipes.

The range of recipes on the Internet is quite daunting. Different flours, different ratios, different cooking times, etc. The basic recipe appears to be a mix of two different liquids and two types of flour.

The liquids are always coconut milk and water infused with a flower (jasmine or rose). The first flour is always rice flour, not glutinous rice flour. The second flour is often tapioca flour (also known as cassava flour).

Given the variety, I knew it would be a lot of time in the kitchen. Based on my biases and availability of product, I selected a UK kanom chan recipe as my base line.

Over the course of the week, I produced 5 kanom chan. First following the recipe explicitly, second reducing the liquid amount, third adjusting the sugar content, and lastly playing with different flavorings and cooking times.

My Kanom Chan Recipe


  • 1/2 Cup Tapioca Starch/Flour
  • 1/4 Cup Rice Flour
  • 1 Tablespoon Arrowroot Starch/Flour
  • 3/4 Cup Sugar*
  • 1/2 Cup Water, infused with Jasmine **
  • 1 Teaspoon Concentrated Pandanus Juice***
  • 1/2 Cup Coconut Milk


  1. Add 1 Tablespoon of water to Arrowroot Starch to create a slurry. Avoiding this step resulted in Arrowroot clumps.
  2. Combine flower water and sugar, and heat till sugar is completely dissolved.
  3. Sift Tapioca Starch and Rice Flour together.
  4. Mix Arrowroot Starch, coconut milk, and sugar water into the flours.
  5. Divide the batter into two equal parts – should yield two cups total. To half of the batter, add the pandanus flavor.
  6. Steam a tray in boiling water.
  7. Add coconut only flavored batter to cover the bottom of the tray. Cook for 10-15 minutes until done (no visible liquid on the surface).
  8. Add pandanus flavored batter to cover the bottom. Cook for 10-15 minutes until done.
  9. Repeat Steps 7 and 8 until no batter remains.

* The original recipe called for 1 cup of sugar, but it was just too sugary sweet. Interestingly, after reducing the sugar content to 3/4 cup, I read an article on palm oil and palm sugar. In the article, Kasma Loha-unchit uses palm sugar for her Thai desserts. As a side note, sugar in Thailand is less sweet than in the US. So straight conversions of recipes will not work.

** To make, infuse Jasmine in water overnight. However, I omitted this step entirely and just used plain water.

*** This will depend greatly on your pandanus concentrate. Some are quite intense, and the original tablespoon requirement is too much. Add a little to the batter and taste. The flavor will be more intense when cooked.

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Kanom Chan

Growing up, viagra sale kanom chan was only one of two desserts that my older brother would eat. The sweet pandan flavor offered a familiar floral vanilla flavor that resonated well with our Americanized taste buds.

In our last trip to Thailand in December, we comb the markets of Bangkok and tasted kanom chan from as many vendors as possible. The best was delicate but not sticky. The layers were of alternating colors and easily separated for playful eating. The taste of pandan was pronounced yet not overpowering.

So that our friends in the US could enjoy the taste, we hand carried a few samples back (along with 70lbs of other thai treats). But now that they are long gone, what are we to do?

Thanks to the Internet, there are many many options. A search on Yahoo! yields 12,500 results. Google brings back 11,500 hits. Well, that’s actually too many options. Looks like I’ll be spending the next week making a lot of kanom chan. Will report back with the success and failures.

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