Note: Pandan (or pandanus) leaves are available frozen at most Asian grocery stores. If you can find them, you can leave them out entirely and scent the dip with a teaspoon of vanilla extract. You can also use a teaspoon of artificial pandan extract (it comes in a small glass bottle) in place of pandan leaves, if you can find it. What you should steer clear of, however, is what is labeled "pandan juice" or "pandan extract" that comes in a can. It's too diluted; its green color is marred by oxidation; its scent is almost nonexistent; it's completely useless in this application.
- 2 to 3 frozen pandan leaves, thawed, rinsed, and blotted dry (see note)
- 1 cup coconut milk or a combination of ½ cup coconut milk and ½ cup of whole milk
- 3 large egg yolks
- ½ cup plus 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
- 1/8 teaspoon salt
- 1 tablespoon cornstarch
- About 6 ounces of white bread (pain de mie, brioche, sweet dinner rolls work well), cut into 1-inch cubes
Cut the pandan leaves into one-inch pieces and place them in a blender or food processor along with the coconut milk. Blend until smooth and strain. With a rubber spatula, press out as much liquid out of the mixture as possible. Hopefully, you’ll get one cup of the pandan-coconut milk mixture. If not, add more coconut milk or whole milk to the liquid so that it measures one cup.
In a medium saucepan, whisk together the yolks, sugar, salt, and cornstarch until smooth. Very slowly whisk in the pandan-coconut milk mixture. Make sure there are no lumps.
Place the saucepan over medium heat and slowly bring the mixture to a gentle boil, whisking constantly. In about two minutes the mixture will thicken up to the consistency of yogurt. When that happens, take the saucepan off the heat.
Let the custard cool.
In the meantime, steam the bread cubes by place them in a heatproof bowl, covered with a piece of plastic wrap, and microwaved on high for 40 to 60 seconds. Keep the bread covered.
Once the dip has cooled down to slightly warmer than room temperature, transfer it to a serving bowl and serve with the steamed bread cubes.