In any given restaurant, almost anywhere in the world, I’ll always be the girl that gets handed the menu and immediately turns to the back page to look at desserts. My fingers have become conditioned to doing it instinctively. This inclination will not work out well for my teeth, my waistline or my heart in the future so believe me when I say, I do try and curtail it. That said, over in Singapore last year, some of the delicious deserts I came across were so unusual, unique and unfamiliar that I almost felt I had a duty to “research” them. Ahem..
Singapore’s Delicious Desserts
I always endeavour to try to find local food specialities during my travels but in Singapore, even local specialities are internationally inspired, since it is a country made up of a mix of populations including Chinese, Malay and Indian and large communities of ex-pats. I didn’t have a single bad meal in Singapore and the quality of the food there was just one of the things that surprised me about this little nation.
The sweet treats I have outlined below went some way towards reflecting the mosaic population so you’ll forgive me, I hope, for including some Japanese delicacies amongst this list!
A traditional dessert from Malaysia, this is easily the strangest dessert I’ve ever eaten and my portion was found at Plaza Singapura food court on Orchard Road. Served in a bowl and more akin to a semi slush-puppie / semi cold soup, this delicacy was made of crushed ice, coconut milk, pandan sugar shavings and sweet red beans.
The beans made it very filling, almost a meal in its own right and there was no way I was ever going to finish this volume of coconut milk. It was very refreshing in the humidity that was starting to take its toll on us and in a very bizarre way, it almost felt a bit virtuous with its bulk of pulses but although I was glad to have tried this dessert, I can’t say it was something I would be ordering again in a hurry. 😀
Pandan Chiffon Cake
Pandan leaves and flavouring are not so easy to locate in the UK, though I have succeeded in finding a handful of pandan cakes and products at Chinese supermarkets in Chinatown, London. Since my first introduction to pandan in Thailand a decade ago, I have yearned to sample just one more bite of its mild and sweet flavour. It is a common ingredient, used widely in East and South East Asia and the chiffon cake is one of the most loved ways to enjoy this flavour.
The chiffon cake is so-called because it is so light and airy that it just melts in the mouth. I found this one at a Malaysian dessert stall at the Paragon Mall and as an enthused but simple home-baker, I of course purchased a couple of bottles of pandan essence sitting proudly amongst my other, better known, baking ingredients.
Angku Kueh and Ondeh-Ondeh
These colourful, traditional Malay, sweet bites were found at the same stall as the pandan cake. Both are made from an outside casing of glutinous rice; the green Onde-Onde is filled with a molten sugary core that fills your mouth once you bite through (apologies for the lack of Ondeh-Ondeh photo but it was in my gut by the time I remembered) and the Angku Kueh (sometimes known as red tortoise cake) can come with a variety of fillings such as red bean, peanut, mung bean and palm sugar.
They were nice for a light bite, the kind of thing that would serve well as petits-four but I just didn’t gel (mind the pun) with the sticky rice exteriors.
Mr Obanyaki Pancakes
My final dessert of the trip was to be found at a food hall at Takashimaya. If you’ve visited Harrods or Selfridges in London, you’d be forgiven for thinking that is exactly where you are, as the layouts were quite similar and some concession brands were identical, such as Godiva.
What distinguished it, though, and what drew my attention were the abundance of Japanese desserts whether you just fancy a matcha and red bean ice cream (I wanted one of just about everything in this food hall but what was that thing about self-discipline I was mumbling about at the start of this post?) Instead, I opted for the more unusual Mr Obanyaki pancake with kaya jam and peanut.
I’ve been trying to think about how to describe it. Think of a pancake come doughnut, half filled with peanut paste inside the batter, half with kaya jam, which is like a sweetened curd made of eggs, coconut milk (and occasionally pandan.)
It reminded me of a very soft, peanut butter sandwich but with a decadent doughnut-like filling combining these flavours and housed in pancake-style batter. Perfect comfort food.
Ice Cream Sandwich
I’ve had ice cream sandwiches before. You see them in packets in England sandwiched between layers of biscuit or wafer but in Singapore, they are served in actual bread, soft enough that your fingers leave a gentle impression, rather like a brioche and with swirls of colour. A very generous slab of ice cream in stacked in the middle before the bread is compactly folded over for you to hold.
Always one to try something a bit different, I opted for yam, which was rather on the subtle side. Pumpkin instead went for mint chocolate, tasting identical to the standard tubs of mint choc chip we used to try as children. (I myself had never been a fan of mint and chocolate ice creams or desserts until this fine restaurant in Bali, which we had visited just a few days earlier, finally managed to persuade me.)
The ice cream flavours in the sandwiches were not particularly noteworthy in themselves but encased in one bite surrounded by a piece of bread so soft and buttery made it an ideal mid-afternoon snack, particularly as our clothes became progressively more sweat-drenched in the kind of temperatures our British bottoms were clearly not built for.
Japanese Cream Puffs
I’ll let you in on a confession about this cream puff. Despite the fact I have never been to Japan, I somehow managed to develop a bit of an obsession with the Beard Papa cream puff stores that opened in London a few years ago. My sister and I were regular frequenters down there but almost as quickly as it arrived on our soils, it vanished again, leaving us Londoners cream-puff-less. (If you know where I can find a similar cream puff dessert in London, I’ll be forever grateful!)
When I heard Tampopo mentioned as the place to locate the best cream puffs in Singapore, we got into a pricey cab and took a detour to grab one. How patiently Pumpkin navigates me from one cake shop to another. Can you imagine how our faces dropped when we got there and the lady told us “cream puff sold out.”
“But I came specially to try it”, I shrieked, my eyes revealing the extent of my disappointment. She stared back at me bemusedly, offering me a range of alternatives (and I am sure, secretly wondering how someone coming across as certifiably insane could have possibly made it through immigration?!)
As I sat drowning my cream puff sorrows in something else, slowly trying to come to terms with the fact that I ought to join a dessert support group (perhaps the meetings could be held at a patisserie), my ever-loving Pumpkin suggested we go back there the next day to try again and sure enough, it was second time lucky! The choux pastry with its delicious, custard filling, was worth all the drama and given that we had gone to so much trouble, we saw no point in sharing so also ordered a matcha flavoured choux bun.
Have you been to Singapore? Did you try any desserts or sweet treats out there?
29 thoughts on “6 Delicious and Unique Desserts I Devoured in Singapore”
Ahhhh, I’m so hungry after reading this post! I have a terrible sweet-tooth, so I would’ve also undertaken the great dessert research project. Need to get to Singapore soon!
Hehe, thanks Kasha! I feel better knowing I’m not the only one who does some dessert “research” whilst on holiday! There were some really unusual dishes in this list too!
Ooo, I’m hungry now Shikha! I can’t actually remember eating anything sweet the last time I was in Singapore (I was to busy filling my face with Indian food up Serangoon Road!) but I’ve tried a few of these treats in Malaysia.
I’m just not a fan of beans in sweet dishes, but pandan.. hello!
Kaya jam with pandan is one of my favourite things, yum! I ate so, so, so much of it! My biggest regret is not bringing tubs of it back with me.
I had never tried kaya jam till this trip Rachel but I loved it and I completely agree – it works an absolute dream with pandan! I’m so looking forward to playing around with some pandan bakes! Singapore was a serious food fest wasn’t it? Definitely a place where I would return more for the food than the sights even!
I only ate indian vegetarian food in Singapore! How unadventurous! But hey, it’s my favourite food and SEAsia does it so well so I don’t care! 😉
Nothing wrong in eating what you love! I do exactly the same thing when I go abroad 🙂
Wow, I didn’t try any of these when I was in Singapore! The ice cream sandwich looks epic!
Lots of love,
It totally was Angie! Such a great grab on the go treat in the heat, though I wish I’d stuck to a flavour that I knew I would like because the yam just didn’t quite taste of much!
I hadn’t heard of cendol but I do like pandan after trying it in Bali so would give it a go!
I wasn’t sure about the cendol but I’m with you on the pandan Suze – so delicious! I remember getting very excited when I found a pandan flavoured macaron at a restaurant in London once ☺
Ohhh pandan chiffon cake… so delicious! Those ice cream sandwiches look so beautiful, too!
Thank you Jess! Yes, I have no idea how they make that pandan chiffon cake just SO silky and light! The ice cream sandwiches were a real highlight – if there weren’t so many other scrumptious foodie things to eat in Singapore, I’d have definitely persuaded myself into having another one!
We have similar snacks in Taiwan as well. The pancake ones here are referred to as wheel cakes and they have an assortment of fillings such as buttercream, taro, red bean, and sweet potato. There is a famous vendor where I live that sells them and you could wait up to a 1/2 hour or longer to get your order.
Wow, that sounds so popular and how lucky that you live near it Constance. If it were me, I think I’d be in that queue all the time and the sweet potato filling sounds fabulous!
These all look totally weird but also extremely delicious. I love the look of the pancake filled with gooey sauces! If and when you find this dessert support group let me know so I can join with you 😉
Hehe, your comment really made me chuckle Ayla but yes, you’ve phrased it quite accurately – some of them really were weird (at least for those of us who aren’t used to these kind of desserts anyway!) Those pancakes were so good – I think I spent about 20 mins just trying to choose which flavour I wanted – big decisions huh?!
So many sweet treats, so little time…! I’ve never had an ice cream sandwich before so need to put that right very soon. The best sweet I’ve had on my travels was a little almond biscuit in Sicily – it was so good it brought tears to my eyes 🙂
That sounds too good to be true Suzanne! I keep hearing time and again about how utterly divine the food in Sicily is! I’d love to visit myself one day and will have to pick your brain about where to find the almond biscuit if I do! ☺
I love cream puffs!!! And I’m so glad you got a 2nd chance to try it! This post makes me wonder if I tried any of the desserts in Singapore, and weirdly, I don’t think I did! This is very strange because I love dessert too and sometimes I would rather eat dessert for a meal. Next time I’m in that area, I will definitely try the pandan stuff! And I love that the ice cream sandwiches are literally sandwiches in between two pieces of bread. I saw that too in Thailand and thought that was so funny!
So funny isn’t it Anna?! It was too intriguing not to try but actually quite filling and the pink and green swirly brioche bread was so pretty! I so wish I knew where to find similar Japanese cream puffs in London – in fact, I might try and Google it now!
ice cream sandwich? sounds like the only possible way to ruin an ice cream!
Lol, it was actually pretty good Andy! Think sweet soft bread rather than think, plain breakfast bread and your favourite flavour in the middle!
You’re killing me!!! My current pregnancy craving is anything sweet, so this post was almost painful to read. All if it looks absolutely divine, but I particularly drooled at the icecream sandwiches…I’m off to see if we have some icecream in the freezer and bread in the cupboard!!
Hehe, I wish I had a better excuse for my sugar cravings Polly other than just my lack of self discipline! Sadly I don’t think Hovis and Wartburton’s work quite as well for the ice cream sandwiches compared to whatever soft, sweet buttery bread they’re using, still you’ve definitely got me intrigued about testing that theory!! 🙂
I wish I’d been a bit more adventurous when I visited Singapore, I missed out on a lot of these, but mainly cos I found one of the market’s had the most amazing chocolate crepes, so I kept going back night after night for a sweet treat! Tried some amazing Singaporean cakes when I had a heritage tea at the Fullerton though the pandan ‘swiss roll’ was lovely. 🙂
Oh that pandan swiss roll thing sounds fabulous Keri, I love pandan desserts! But I know what you mean, if I found a sweet treat I absolutely loved, I’d probably keep returning night upon night too 🙂
These are so interesting! I didn’t try any of them while I was in Singapore but I would love to next time! Thanks for sharing! 🙂
Some of them were really unusual and I definitely preferred some more than others Maddy but I highly recommend the cream puff and the ice cream sandwich for something decadent or the other ones for something really quirky and with more unusual flavours!